Tools to Optimize Bandwidth
At the beginning of the pandemic, CompTIA, an association of IT professionals, published a list of networking considerations for remote work, including the need for increased bandwidth based on workload expectations. As companies move toward hybrid work environments, other tools may also help them evaluate their bandwidth needs.
For example, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor allows network professionals to analyze bandwidth utilization and performance by providing visibility into internet use by application, protocol and IP address group. Cisco’s ThousandEyes Internet Insights combines data within users’ companies with external data, like provider outages, to provide network professionals with a big-picture view so they can make more informed decisions.
Eric Hanselman, principal analyst with 451 Research, says that these types of “endpoint agents” provide valuable visibility to help IT professionals quickly identify issues.
“Historically, we threw bandwidth at problems,” says Hanselman. “Now, we’re starting to see more performance management tools that are integrating with end-user systems. Sometimes bandwidth is beyond your control, but these tools help IT teams understand where the problem is.”
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Adding SASE Capabilities to VPNs
When entire workforces moved to remote locations in March 2020, many companies expanded their virtual private network capabilities by purchasing more licenses for products like Cisco’s AnyConnect, allowing at-home workers to virtually plug into the network through a secure connection.
However, VPNs can have scaling issues in large deployments, and connection constraints often led to suboptimal performance. In addition, many employees were bypassing their VPNs to log in to Software as a Service and cloud-based applications directly, exposing themselves and their companies to cyberattacks.
Secure Access Service Edge addresses many of those issues. According to Gartner, SASE helps solve problems created by “the patchwork of vendors, policies, and consoles creating complexity for security administrators and users.” SASE solutions, such as those offered by Akamai and Zscaler, among others, are tools that simplify management and add security to the increasing sprawl of both workers and applications.
Hanselman says that SASE is an excellent solution that can work alongside a VPN.
“The promise of SASE is that it has the ability to deliver scalable, granular control to technology professionals no matter where employees are located,” says Hanselman. “SASE isn’t necessarily exclusive of VPNs, but the concept includes an overarching set of protocols that are needed for remote access management.”