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There’s much speculation about the degree to which employees will return to the workplace versus continuing to work from home. The truth of the matter is work as a concept will remain fluid. While more employees will be returning to office, they may only show up in the workplace a couple of days a week. As organizations begin to come to terms with social distancing in the enterprise, many of them are finding there simply isn’t enough physical space to accommodate all the employees that might have once shared an office.

Organizations are now evaluating how they will, from an IT perspective, cope with this so-called new normal. IT teams were, for the most part, able to quickly support large numbers of employees working remotely using legacy virtual private networks (VPNs). However, with employees shifting between home and the office, most organizations will soon be implementing new IT strategies anchored around cloud applications, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and digital workspaces.

Organizations are moving toward providing end users with a consistent application experience, otherwise known as a digital workspace, regardless of where end users happen to be physically located or what application happens to be running. Those digital workspaces will likely to not only provide access to a disparate mix of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications; they will also enable end users, when necessary, to access legacy applications that for whatever reason will continue to run in a local data center.

That goal will be achieved by accessing digital workspaces over SD-WANs. And rather than backhauling all network traffic through a local data center, organizations will look to provide direct access to cloud applications using a public internet connection that reduces costs while improving application latency. At the same time, the SD-WAN will also be able to route traffic to an on-premises application if needed.

Access to cloud applications needs to be secure

SD-WAN and firewall services are starting to converge under a single management console to achieve this goal. The only question is to what degree will digital workspaces be delivered as a service or created and maintained by an internal IT team.

As IT environments become more distributed, it can be argued that MSPs will be in a better position to manage digital workspaces. When every application runs in a handful of local data centers, internal IT teams often have the skills and tools required. However, as applications become increasingly accessed via an SD-WAN, the expertise of an MSP will become indispensable.

Savvy MSPs should start talking about the art of the new possible for this new age. MSPs are in a much better position to facilitate this transition because all the capital costs are absorbed by either the MSP or the cloud service provider. At a time when most business executives are inclined to save as much cash as possible, a managed services approach to consuming IT has likely never been more appealing. The rate at which applications are shifting to the cloud is already accelerating. Digital workspaces simply take that concept to its next logical conclusion.

Photo: 13_Phunkod / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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