The Network of Now: Inside Analysis Radio Interview with Bloor’s Eric Kavanaugh
A couple weeks ago Stefano and I had a chance to talk to Bloor’s Eric Kavanaugh and Anthony James of Infoblox about the new network demands of remote work. The effects are profound, from the short to the long term. So the question is: how do you prepare?
Eric introduces the show by talking about the “tremendous upheaval” in the networking industry caused by employees working from home. He explains how (before Covid-19) the vast majority of employees worked from corporate offices with big wide area networks with well-understood traffic patterns.
Then, almost overnight, close to 80% of information workers started working from home. He experienced the impacts personally, with lower internet speeds and even issues with Google Classroom. He was well aware the remote office is operating with a “very diverse world”of service providers, from large to small, delivering home internet access.
The challenge: allowing remote workers to be productive by getting them the bandwidth they need.
The Remote Shift is the Biggest Thing in Decades
I told Eric the “remote shift” is the most interesting thing I’ve seen across more than twenty years in Silicon Valley. And it has huge implications, even more so than the rise of the enterprise web and load balancing, which allowed employees to access company software and conduct basic transactions over the internet.
A recent Upwork survey predicted as many as 23M households are about to leave the cities of their employers to work remote. And about 40% will relocate more than 4 hours away from their former offices.
That’s a huge migration of epic proportions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined some industries will be much more impacted than others, especially financial services, technology, business services, universities and government services.
Most of these employees will be going from well-manicured, highly observable corporate networks to patchworks of ISPs, VPNs, cloud apps and consumer gear while being dependent upon higher cost remote/field support, including 3rd party van rolls. And per Upwork, these are people who are “about to move.”
So it’s about to get real interesting trying to maintain observability and security within these new remote networks.
Eric pointed out how much has been invested in observability over the last ten years, only to see a sudden shift, changing the ballgame. These investments haven’t been rendered irrelevant, but they’re now less relevant to worker productivity and digital experience.
Network Execs Have Points of Historical Reference
In the same way that the rise of enterprise web apps forced the evolution from server load balancing to application delivery controllers (or app front ends as we used to call them), we’ll see the forced evolution of network monitoring away from network device status/uptime pings to more user experience-related capabilities. So we’ll see amazing growth over this notion of a flexible area network over the next 2-3 years, not just from Covid but from a new future of work perspective.
Loss of Observability and Control
Stefano added how important it is becoming to have the monitoring as close to the user as possible. And legacy solutions were primarily built to monitor switches, routers, firewalls, etc focused on network device performance… with little interest in real-time user experience. It is now clear that SNMP is not effective in supporting the new remote workforce. Too many issues cannot be detected by device status/performance monitoring.
Business Impacts Easy to Understand
Eric drove home the business impacts already noticeable in terms of remote customer service and support representatives who depend upon a high quality digital experience for productivity. Now more workers will become dependent upon network performance for their productivity.
Stefano pointed out that, in addition to lost observability, network admins used to have much more control of the office infrastructure.
Want to learn more about The Network of Now? Listen to the entire program. Or Contact us if you would like a transcript.
Future of Work Survey by Allwork
The 4th annual report is the result of data collected by OWL Labs, a collaborative technology company, conducted this year in partnership with Global Workspace Analytics, a leading remote analytics firm. The data was collected during June and July of 2020 from 2,025 full time workers at companies with ten or more employees and a range of ages from 21 to 65.
Recently aired (11/17) webinar: NetBeez CTO Panickos Neophytou on the challenges of remote user networks and what to do about them. Watch it here!