How Managed Network Services Facilitate Remote Work and Business Continuity (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Effective communication between workers is a key factor contributing to organizational productivity. When in the office, the interactions between individual employees, teams, and the random encounters at the water cooler, all contribute to the sharing of information, a feeling of well-being, and overall productivity.
The unprecedented move to a remote working model completely changed this aspect of work life. A hybrid model combining remote and on-prem is still in play. Since employees are no longer physically co-located every day, the reliance on communication and collaboration technologies escalated quickly.
Enabling remote interaction is no longer just a driver of productivity — it is essential to business continuity and the survival of the enterprise.
The Rapid Evolution of UCC
In response to the distributed workforce, the unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools that were in place have been stretched. After all, they were designed mainly for use on premises or between offices. UCC does have some capability to support remote work, but nothing along the lines of supporting a predominantly remote workforce.
Infrastructure & Operations leaders hustled to find ways to facilitate better online communication and in-person interaction. Applications such as MS Teams and Webex, among others, rapidly started becoming the mainstream pathways of interaction. Today they are often used in conjunction with the legacy UCC services.
The Management Challenge
The need to support remote communications and collaboration, the multiple solution sets that came into use, and the pace at which all this had to happen, has had severe implications for the network infrastructure that support these services. Enterprises and managed network service (MNS) providers have had to overcome significant challenges in infrastructure operations and administration.
Traditional UCC implementations consist of multi-layered, distributed applications with multiple service components that make them inherently complex and difficult to manage. The rush to enhance UCC to support new capabilities, which required the management of more distributed assets, even more complexity came into play.
For example, the adoption of new tools such as MS Teams brought about its own set of challenges. With the proliferation of remote solutions came the need to understand multiple toolkits to deploy, operate, and manage these systems.
Monitoring Assets Equally
With so many elements constituting the service delivery chain, IT infrastructure monitoring becomes paramount to ensure that collaboration and communication systems are always available and operating properly. The enterprise monitoring strategy needs to provide visibility into all parts of the IT infrastructure equally – whether the components are in the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid.
Just because some services are outsourced and hosted in the cloud does not diminish the need to monitor the performance at the application level. After all, the IT infrastructure may be operating perfectly at the edge of the enterprise network, but there may be issues at the back-end, or on the provider’s end, that are impacting service quality.
MNS providers with collaboration experience offer extensive capabilities to monitor all of the UCC and MS Teams across the IT infrastructure estate. With integrations to the toolsets and APIs of these services, your MNS provider should offer reports and dashboards to monitor performance and expose issues as they occur, while providing proactive alerts.
If there is one overall indicator of how well the communication and collaboration systems are performing, it is the actual end-user experience.
Issues with video or audio quality, file-sharing, and finicky connectivity can all affect the experience. In addition, with the distributed nature of remote work, the kinds of devices used now include laptops, phones, and other mobile devices. Each new end-point brings its own quirks and issues that could affect performance.
MNS providers with end-user experience monitoring capabilities can help immensely in this regard. They can identify sets of end-users experiencing difficulties. They can determine whether they are in a particular geography, using a certain kind of device, or accessing a particular set of resources.
By embedding synthetic transaction processors across the user base to mimic video/audio and application traffic types, your MNS provider can offer accurate depictions of the end-user experience, speeding the resolution of problems.