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Networks rise up to connectivity demands of 2020’s great disruption

13 Aug 2020
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Nikhil Batra

Associate Research Director, Telecom, IoT and Enterprise ICT, IDC Asia/Pacific

Not just a health issue, the COVID-19 crisis has hit all businesses, some more than others, with industries such as airlines, tourism, manufacturing, retail, logistics, and education impacted the most.

This biggest disruption of our time, not seen since the Great Depression has sparked what many have called the "great remote working experiment" as millions of employees work from their homes. For some, deciding what to wear to an online meeting has become less important than what is visible in the background – some companies have even held competitions for the best virtual backgrounds.

In these unprecedented times, the modern telecommunications infrastructure, an interconnected global IP and cloud platform, has played a central role in holding relationships, communities, businesses, and economies together.

Concerns about whether the Internet would stand up to the test of increased bandwidth demand driven by the rise in videoconferencing and digital media consumption have been quelled. Telecom providers across the world have adapted, adjusted, and delivered on their promise to provide and maintain high levels of service for connectivity.

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Balancing the demand of mass remote working

This pandemic serves as a reminder of the criticality of telecom networks as a major lifeline in critical industries such as health care and emergency services, by enabling first responders and frontline workers to stay connected and to deliver care at a distance. Across the business spectrum, those forced into digital to stay afloat or to tap into new markets recognize the opportunities in plugging into the digital economy.

As economies slowly emerge from the COVID-19 related standstill, teleworking is still widely encouraged in many countries, leaving office connections effectively unused as traffic from cloud and datacenters shift towards households. IT departments have their work cut out for them as they work toward a full resumption of the workplace, support remote employees, and plan for new technology implementations.

According to IDC's COVID-19 Survey, the top 4 technology investment priorities for Asia/Pacific businesses in 2020 and 2021 are cloud, remote learning and training, virtual workspaces, and videoconferencing. While this reflects forward planning, are their networks able to handle the additional workloads? Will these additional technology investments put strain on their networks that are not geared up to meet the needs of their future digital businesses?

Re-designing connectivity for the new normal

The performance of corporate WANs has to move firmly to the foreground, especially for those companies lagging the market on digital transformation. Many of them rely on corporate VPNs as the sole method of remote access to corporate resources, applications, and data. Unless the enterprise high-bandwidth links are sized and architected for performance, they could at best become frustrating bottlenecks, and at worst single points of failure that bring business operations to a halt.

Facing the great pandemic disruption will require investing in one's digital resiliency, not just business recovery. Are you ready to turbocharge your enterprise network transformation journey?

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