Coronavirus exposes security and networking issues

Research from NTT and a product launch from 8x8 indicate some of the areas where the channel should be focusing

The lockdown has highlighted some technology issues for customers who are trying to keep staff working remotely.

There have been some challenges in providing staff with hardware and there are also bandwidth restrictions that have undermined collaboration attempts.

The consequence of the shift towards remote working has also exposed security problems with the number of ageing devices on the network.

Research from NTT has found that nearly half of European customers’ assets were ageing or obsolete and struggling to support moving applications to the cloud.

“In this ‘new normal’, many businesses will need, if not be forced, to review their network and security architecture strategies, operating and support models to better manage operational risk,” said Rob Lopez, executive vice-president, Intelligent Infrastructure, NTT.

“We expect to see strategy shift from a focus on business continuity to preparation for the future as lockdown begins to ease. Network infrastructure needs to be appropriately architected and managed to deal with unplanned surges, which will require a relook at cloud and on-premise infrastructure to reduce the impact and frequency of business-critical outages.”

NTT’s 2020 Global network insights report quizzed customers across Europe who were responsible for 800,000 network devices, and discovered that 45.6% of organisations’ network assets in Europe were ageing or obsolete.

As well as highlighting the security consequences of using old equipment, the research focused on the need for many users to upgrade the network.

“The network is the platform for business digital transformation,” said Lopez. “It needs to be ubiquitous, flexible, robust and secure to adapt easily to business change, while increasing the maturity of the operational support environment. Businesses that use a high level of network automation and intelligence to optimise operations will gain a significant competitive advantage and realise the benefits of the cloud economy, securely.”

Meanwhile, vendors are taking steps to address problems that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus, with 8x8 cutting the ribbon on its Open Communications Platform this afternoon.

The firm’s communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offering should make life easier for users who have struggled to exploit tools such as team meetings, chat and contact centre solutions.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown many customers that their current technology is just not up to speed and they will have to make changes in the next few years because the shift to digital is unstoppable.

“Through to 2022, half of organisations will determine that their technology for enterprise communications is ineffective for meeting business continuity needs and falls short in the open communications requirements for secured and seamless interactions across devices and people,” said Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer at Ventana Research.

Many in the channel are expecting a lot of the changes forced on customers during lockdown to have a lasting impact, particularly those that have accelerated digital transformation efforts.

The expectation that the “new normal” will involve more collaboration is also shared by those running 8x8.

“Work-from-anywhere has recently become a top-of-mind, board-level initiative, and a critical element for every organisation’s business resilience strategy,” said Bryan Martin, chairman and CTO at 8x8. 

“Forward-thinking CIOs must reimagine how their businesses move ahead. Without effective communications, organisations crumble.”

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