Adapting to a post-COVID-19 world

19th June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise, no question. Just a few months ago, most organisations could not have imagined closing their operations down completely, switching their manufacturing from cars and designer clothes to respirators and face masks, or asking entire workforces to work remotely.

As organisations wrestled with drastically changing circumstances, many digital transformation programs were put on hold while a whole set of new and unprecedented challenges were tackled.

Nowhere has the pressure been felt more than within IT departments, with CIO’s centre-stage, tasked with making remote working happen as fast as possible to ensure their organisations could continue to function. The corporate network has never been as pressured as it has in recent months where gaining secure and reliable access to company resources has been absolutely critical to allow people to continue doing their jobs. Remote working brought with it the need for urgent and secure access to both cloud and datacentre resources, and new video-based collaboration apps such as Skype, Teams, Zoom – all expected to operate seamlessly, at the same quality as we expect from our TV’s –  all putting massive pressure on corporate networks and, importantly, on network security.

Short-term fixes 

Many organisations reacted quickly, rolling out VPNs at scale, sourcing new collaboration and communication tools, and adding bandwidth to cope with new, exceptional levels of demand.  At the same time steps were taken, from patching through to training, to ensure that organisations, their corporate assets and their employees, were not going to suddenly be at increased risk of cyber-attack. CIOs and their IT teams rose to the challenge and put in place many and varied measures to tackle this immediate crisis.

Post-COVID-19, time for long-term actions?

But what now? How do organisations get their technology transformations back on track in the new and different world that will undoubtedly emerge post-pandemic? Many of the solutions put in quickly may last, but for most organisations, they represent short-term fixes or sticking plasters that addressed the urgent, short-term need. Policies were often circumvented and security procedures less robust than usual as new solutions were put in place – all vital in the quest for speed and the even bigger need to keep organisations operating.

Priorities for businesses, and therefore for IT, are likely to be different now as we emerge. Boards are going to demand an even sharper focus on business continuity, security, and more than anything, will want cast-iron assurances that their organisations are well equipped, with the right technology solutions now in place for the long term, properly prepared for any similar crisis should it happen. And that in itself is now a much higher and more believable risk than any of us might have imagined just six months ago.

Time for Accelerated Transformation

We believe that for most organisations the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis will represent an opportunity to re-start and then accelerate digital transformation, starting with networks. Applications were for most, already shifting to the cloud of course and that strategy certainly helped as remote working became the norm. But much more can and must be done at the network level to reduce corporate risk and meet this heightened demand for future preparedness.

Forward-thinking CIOs should take this opportunity to accelerate their transformation plans – and ensure that the right foundations for the future are put in place – by designing new, cloud-centred networks that are both flexible and secure, ready to adapt to any future circumstance. In the same way you wouldn’t build a house on a bed of sand, you wouldn’t build a business today on an outdated MPLS network, with security designed for traditional corporate locations and a datacentre world; you’d want the most flexible and secure network possible, designed for the cloud and adaptable for the future.

Software-Defined Solutions and Zero-Trust

 By flexible we mean software-defined – dynamic and elastic, able to manage both huge volumes of data whilst maintaining high quality, able to cope with spikes in demand, with zero-touch provisioning, global consistency and full resilience. And by secure, we mean not only securing applications and business systems, regardless of where they reside, but also securing access to those systems. We firmly believe in the concept of zero-trust, a model that meets today’s need for trusted access from anywhere and any device regardless of location, with identity at its core – trusting no-one unless authenticated by policy-based access rules.

At Xalient we are expert in software-defined network and zero-trust security technologies, which when converged and delivered as a single cloud service is together increasingly known as SASE -Secure Access Service Edge. We design deliver and manage complete solutions that enable enterprises to operate in an agile, efficient and secure manner, ensuring, more important now than ever, they are fully prepared for the demands and uncertainties of a ‘post-COVID-19’ world.

We work with large and complex organisations including major global brands. With our help, many of these innovative businesses are already reaping the benefits of our partnership and expertise. And that’s exactly why they were so well prepared when the pandemic hit: with the right software-defined network foundations and a zero-trust security posture firmly in place, they were able to meet the recent challenges, specifically those of safe, remote working at scale, rapidly and effectively.

We believe that the majority of organisations have passed the “react” phase of the COVID-19 challenge. Now, as they take time to reflect, reassess and plan for the longer term, we can help CIO’s, CISO’s and their teams. Our portfolio of solutions ranging from SD-WAN to identity management, cloud security and unified communications, is perfectly suited to address many of the longer-term challenges they will be facing at this crucial time.

We bring expertise and experience of helping large and complex organisations, such as Kellogg’s, Keurig Dr Pepper, DWF, Govia Thameslink Rail and WSP, transform their networks and move to zero-trust; we also have very recent examples of how we’ve helped clients overcome specific challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.

The time to act is now

Never has the time been more right than now to start rethinking those traditional network approaches that were designed for a datacentre rather than a cloud-centric world, to ensure reliable and resilient global connectivity, ultimate network flexibility and zero-trust security for your organisation. 

Xalient is the trusted, independent, partner that can help you.