Enterprises Adapt to the New Business as Usual

The intensity and the rapid spread of COVID-19 have taken everyone by surprise, forcing many companies to implement work-from-home (WFH) policies with a clearly defined objective: to maintain business as usual. Business continuity and resiliency are being stressed beyond what many had anticipated. Extraordinary events, such as extreme weather conditions (like storms) or worker strikes, have already been addressed in the past. Those would typically be localized and temporary. However, today’s pandemic situation is global with no clear exit dates.

A survey published on March 10, 2020, highlighted that only 12% of organizations were highly prepared for this new way of doing business.1 Since then, a lot of work has been done and tools (for video conferencing, remote access VPNs, etc.) have been implemented to help employees to continue doing their jobs as usual. I call this the “new business as usual.” New business tools and methods are being provided to continue doing business as usual. This new business way is an adaptation of our way of working by using those tools from home.

A follow-up survey published on April 3, 2020, highlighted that a quarter of the surveyed companies will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.2

74% of Companies Plan to Permanently Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID-19
Figure 1. 74% of Companies Plan to Permanently Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID-19.3

While companies are adapting to this new way of doing business, what impact will we see on the underlying infrastructure that supports these initiatives? WFH fully relies on the Internet to connect to business applications that are being delivered via SaaS or remote access VPNs.

With such reliance on the Internet, ISPs are coming front and center. In our weekly show, The Internet Report, we observed the number of ISP outages globally fluctuating in recent weeks, as shown in the following chart.

ISP Network Outages
Figure 2. ISP Network Outages

Although the number of ISP outages appears to be elevated compared to what we saw in back early February, the downward trend demonstrates that ISPs networks are working hard to address the additional load on their underlying networks.

Another technology component being heavily used is Remote Access VPNs. While many applications are increasingly being deployed as SaaS in the cloud, many business applications are still hosted on premises and require VPN access. Getting insights in terms of user experience when accessing applications through your VPN concentrators is becoming even more critical. Typically, VPN concentrators are sized for 10 to 20% of the total workforce, assuming other employees are in the office. Today, this ratio is much higher and moving towards 80 to 100%.

Leveraging the ThousandEyes platform, you can easily gain intelligence on user experience for your on-premises applications. Many VPN concentrators offer SSL based connectivity. Users authenticate on a portal and then click on links to connect to internal on-premises applications. The following ThousandEyes test measures user experience from various cloud agents that represent user geographical presence and looks at getting intelligence on the end-to-end connectivity: user to VPN, authenticating to the VPN, connecting to the on-premise application. In addition to the end-to-end connectivity, the Browser Synthetics capability also gives us insight into application-level transactions.

Example of monitoring user experience with transactions
Figure 3. Example of monitoring user experience with transactions

For example, in this scenario, we were able to identify that user experience is being impacted by the server delivering the application to the user. In the chart below, we can clearly see that connecting to the on-premises application is the key contributing factor to slowness.

Example of monitoring user experience with transaction markers
Figure 4. Example of monitoring user experience with transaction markers

The novel coronavirus is transforming our world in many ways: working from home is quickly becoming the norm, and maintaining business continuity is a key objective—in other words, it is the “new business as usual.”

Subscribe to our weekly show, The Internet Report, to stay up-to-date on the latest state of Internet health and learn how it impacts your business.

Sources:

1 Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Business Continuity Survey Shows Just 12 Percent of Organizations Are Highly Prepared for Coronavirus,” March 10, 2020. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-03-10-gartner-business-continuity-survey-shows-just-twelve-percernt-of-organizations-are-highly-prepared-for-coronavirsu

2 Gartner Press Release, “Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently,” April 3, 2020. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently2

3 Gartner Press Release, “Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently,” April 3, 2020. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently2

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