Many organizations are just now starting to come to terms with the inherent challenges with supporting employees as an anticipated second wave of COVID-19 infections appears to be all but inevitable.

A survey of more than 100 C-level executives and IT professionals in the U.S. published this week by Navisite, a provider of IT infrastructure services, finds more than more than one-third (36 percent) of companies are still not prepared to support large scale remote workforce. More than half of respondents (51 percent) also admitted to experiencing IT pains during the initial transition process, with 29 percent reporting they are still facing issues.

The survey finds that prior to the pandemic only 14 percent of companies had more than half of their employees working from home. Now more than 64 percent of companies have more than half of their employees working remotely. A full 83 percent of respondents said they expect their companies will continue with more liberal work-from-home policies even after the pandemic subsides.

Options for MSPs emerge

Most organizations have by now discovered the limitations of providing access to applications over virtual private networks (VPNs) that are difficult to manage, don’t scale especially well and are frequently disabled by end users whenever they need additional bandwidth for a videoconference.

In an ideal world, end users would be accessing a mix of cloud and on-premises applications over a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) that not only provides a better applications experience, but also ensures security by implementing a zero-trust architecture. Most IT organizations, however, simply don’t have the capability or expertise required to build out a secure SD-WAN service on their own. Naturally, that creates a significant opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs).

As is always the case, there is more than one way to deliver a service. MSPs can always buy all the required gear and roll it themselves. Alternatively, they can resell a service that is either fully managed on behalf of the end customers or co-managed with the end user.

A third option is to employ a cloud service to reduce the total cost of deploying an SD-WAN around a set of appliances deployed in a remote office. Depending on both the level of capital investment an MSP wants to make, and the margins it wants to generate, all three options are perfectly legitimate approaches.

MSPs must make choice now

Whatever the path chosen, the time is now for MSPs to make that decision as organizations begin to determine their IT strategies for 2021. Many customers now realize that most employees will not be spending the bulk of their time back in the office any time soon. A large segment of them are also thinking about eliminating the need for a lot of physical office space altogether. As a result, the network perimeter around which most legacy IT security strategies were constructed is dissolving.

MSPs can either stand by and wait for their customers to come to this conclusion, or they can proactively engage them now. If they don’t engage them now, those same customers will wonder why their MSP didn’t when they eventually do figure it out.

That may not be a conversation that every MSP is necessarily prepared to have. However, it should also be clear there is not going to be any going back. The network perimeter has for all intents and purposes become a victim of the pandemic.

Photo: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

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.

One Comment

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    Hi, great article! Some really good insights. I work for a MSP and we have written an article highlighting some of the benefits to come for workplaces during covid if you wanted to have a read https://www.itopia.com.au/blog/remote-support-and-covid19-what-have-we-learned/
    All the best

    Reply

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