Hybrid working: the implications of an ‘always on’ network and its solution

With flexible working set to remain a permanent fixture for many businesses, Mike Osborne, managing director for managed services at Intercity discusses the resultant infrastructure implications and solutions for businesses

The Hybrid Working Model

The hybrid working model is now favoured among many businesses in the UK. In addition to giving employees greater flexibility for a better work-life balance, the pandemic forced organisations to review their on-premise and remote IT infrastructures.

‘Working from home’ has enabled a huge shift in our working behaviours as employees can theoretically work from anywhere and are no longer restricted by traditional office opening times. Research from Gartner found that the majority (87%) of employees want flexibility in their role, so it’s clear hybrid working is not only here to stay, but an anywhere, anytime approach to work is likely to become expected from employees. Many businesses must now consider how the needs of their network have changed over the past two years. This means there has been a shift in priority and the focus is now about supporting the remote users of their network to give them a seamless experience regardless of their location.

One key consideration of this new way of working is employees need network access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and so any redesigned solution needs to deliver an ‘always on’ service which can resolve issues whenever they arise – something that can place a huge strain on an in-house IT department.

So, how does an Anything-as-a-Service solution work?

Bolstered by the pandemic, the subscription economy has grown extensively over the past few years, encouraging a shift in the supplier landscape where resellers have moved away from selling solo products and, instead, customers can now subscribe to a bundle of solutions, tools, technologies – a full service.

The recently coined term ‘anything-as-a-service’ (XaaS) recognises the solutions that vendors can deliver to users, which are both more holistic and often capable of being delivered remotely over a private or public network. The most common of these have been cloud computing models like software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

But with deep roots in physical hardware sales, where does this shift leave the networking industry? How can providers offer the SaaS, the 24/7 support as well as the hardware on which the network must run?

The times they are a-changin’

A common trend for the past 20 years or so has seen customers specifying a network be installed in their environment, working with a reseller that is solely focused on selling hardware solutions, fulfilling one-off customer requirements to set up IT infrastructure alone. But now, customer needs are changing.

More and more organisations are looking for integrated ‘Network as-a-Service’ (NaaS) offerings that are not just focused on the software side of the network, but also the hardware side, and the ongoing support technicians can provide. As businesses continue to extend corporate networks into users’ homes, round-the-clock monitoring and management of in-house networks have become increasingly challenging and expensive to resource.

Further to this, in recent years, cyber threats and the proliferation of connected devices has forced network security protocols to constantly evolve and improve. Wi-Fi standards 3, 4, 5 and now 6 improve speed and bandwidth with each evolution. Networks now offer embedded beacon technology, artificial intelligence, and self-healing capabilities.

The key question now is, why would you buy network hardware in the traditional way? When scaled against of constant innovation and change in user requirements; is ownership really a fundamental criterion? Or, should customers source a solution that brings with it flexibility and technology evolution?

Juniper driven by AI Mist

To offer the best possible service to our customers, Intercity has partnered with Juniper Networks to offer a market-leading NaaS solution. Juniper is leading the revolution in networking, with a sole mission to create innovative solutions that meet the growing demands of the hybrid connected world.

Our partnership with Juniper allows us access to its specialist Mist AI system, which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and data science tools to optimise user experiences (UX) and simplify operations for networks. Because of this, our dedicated support team at Intercity can offer a full network management service with a ground-breaking agreement that we will keep networks at peak performance and identify if a network is down within just six minutes, in comparison to the average time of an hour, with four-hour target remediation 24/7. This takes the pressure off an organisation’s own IT team, allowing them to focus on their strategic business priorities.

The Mist AI solution offers deep insights into wired and wireless networks with features such as rapid root cause analysis, proactive anomaly detection, and automated event correlation. This means we can troubleshoot and solve issues before they become apparent. With a more agile network solution, the organisation experiences a 70% reduction in network-related support tickets and reduces its mean time to resolution for technical issues from one hour to 30 minutes. This means smooth-running Wi-Fi and LAN connectivity is ensured for all employees, wherever and whenever they are working.

With a completely bespoke solution, Intercity can help to remove the noise. Ultimately, this means your IT team will have more time to focus on innovation and collaboration. At the same time, the business can benefit from CapEx free hardware and software that is always upgrading to be the best available and paid for overtime.

Are you ready to take the next step to evolve your network, ready for a hybrid world? Get in touch with the team at Intercity to learn more about our all-inclusive NaaS solutions.

Written by Mike Osborne, managing director for managed services at Intercity