Today’s workplaces are vastly different to the way they were even just 12 months ago. In the wake of COVID-19, many people are still choosing to work from home. In fact, according to a recent poll, 86% of people said they would like to keep working from home, and 73% said their employers would be open to working from home arrangements.¹
Even when employees do go into the office, they’re more dispersed than usual, and expect to be able to connect to the network from anywhere – whether it’s a workstation, meeting room, foyer or break-out space. When customers or guests come into a modern corporate space, they also expect to be able to connect seamlessly to the Wi-Fi. Plus, even before the pandemic changed the layout and nature of the office space, the need for a fast, reliable wireless network was paramount. Employees expect round-the-clock connectivity. Cloud-based productivity and collaboration solutions have become a central part of the modern workplace.
At Blue Connections, we can help our clients design, implement and manage solutions built on Aruba’s market-leading technologies. Based on our experience, here are four key areas in which we see the need for modern wireless networking:
#1 – Support for flexible working – both in and out of the office
As we mentioned earlier, remote working is – for many businesses – here to stay, at least in some capacity. 28% of employees say they want to work from home full time permanently, 39% want to work from home a couple of days per week, and 20% would like to work from home 3-4 days per week.²
To support this, businesses need to invest in modern wireless networking solutions, which can provide employees with the connectivity they need, regardless of when and where they are working.
Aruba helps by offering a range of powerful wireless connectivity solutions, with support for LAN, WLAN, VPN and SD-WAN connections. Aruba’s access points also use AI-powered RF optimisation, and rich user and app intelligence, dynamic segmentation and smart management options, to ensure a streamlined, positive user experience.
Plus, an Aruba wireless network can all be managed, centrally and seamlessly, via Aruba Central – the industry’s only cloud-native command centre. Businesses that are embarking on new remote working initiatives can use Aruba Central to easily connect end-users to cloud and on-premises services for an in-office experience at home or on-the-go.
Aruba also offers Remote Access Points (RAPs), which essentially provide secure connectivity from any location. They are automatically configured, so employees simply plug them into any existing internet connection and they’re ready to go. RAPs support the latest Wi-Fi standards, have up to four wired points and multiple WAN uplinks, which means employees can enjoy incredibly fast connectivity and can even connect wireless printers or power IP phones, to ensure productivity is maintained.
#2 – Enabling collaboration
Collaboration is now an essential part of the modern workplace. Recent Australian research by Deloitte Access Economics and Deloitte Digital found that by unlocking the potential capacity and knowledge of its people, employees who collaborate are 10 times more likely to be satisfied with their job. The research also suggested that only 20% of businesses without collaboration strategies outgrew the market, compared with 30% with a middling strategy, and 52% with an important strategy.³
A modern wireless network enables the collaboration that today’s businesses need, by providing the foundation for powerful collaboration software – like Microsoft Teams.
In the past, wireless connections required a dedicated ‘channel’ in order to transmit information, which meant that if there was a lot of traffic competing for attention, connectivity could be slow. With a modern solution from Aruba, however, multiple channels can be used, which means it can be up to four times faster than a traditional network.
With a modern network, employees and network guests have all the bandwidth and speed they need. They can collaborate without interruption, from anywhere and using any approved device.
#3 – Streamlined access for all users
It’s not just permanent employees who need to access an organisation’s corporate network. Contractors, freelancers, office visitors and even clients often need a seamless network connection too.
With a modern wireless solution and guest onboarding portal in place, guests can enjoy a seamless and positive wireless experience, accessed via an easy-to-use login.
Leveraging ClearPass Guest, Aruba makes it easy and efficient for anyone, whether they’re an employee, receptionist or contractor, to create temporary network access accounts, for any number of guests a day. The system stores these details, so that guests can easily connect throughout the day or weeks, without needing to re-enter their details on the guest portal. All of this can also be associated with sponsor approval, so guest access can be entirely secure.
#4 – Robust security, around the clock
In this new ‘work from home’ era, maintaining network security can be challenging. The security risk is also heightened by the growing number of IoT devices which are connecting at the edge of corporate networks – for example, temperature, lighting or location sensors, surveillance cameras or audio-visual equipment.
Aruba Zero Trust Security ensures that the same controls which are applied to the office network also apply to devices and users that are accessing the network remotely. With Aruba ClearPass Device Insight, for instance, IT teams can see everything on the network – whether IoT devices or traditional devices like tablets and laptops.
Once connected, IT and security teams can also control who can access certain components of the wireless network – via principles of least access and micro-segmentation privileges – using Aruba Dynamic Segmentation.
Aruba’s ClearPass Policy Manager also enables you to centrally create role-based policies that enable teams to monitor and enforce how devices behave throughout a session, regardless of location or time-of-day.
And Aruba Policy Enforcement Firewall lets you set rules on your wireless network to help keep Zero Trust principles in check at the session and traffic level.
Want to learn more?
To learn more about how a modern wireless network, implemented by the experts at Blue Connections, could benefit your business, get in touch.
Chief Technology Officer, Blue Connections IT