The Work-From-Home Revolution Drives Edge Cloud Adoption
August 14, 2023

Shamus McGillicuddy

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Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 92% of enterprises have experienced a permanent increase in employees who work from home on at least a part-time basis. According to new Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research, the average enterprise has about 43% of its employees working from home. By 2025, that number will increase to 49%.

When I first started talking to NetOps pros about the challenges of supporting remote workers, there was one recurring theme. When troubleshooting home office user experience, network admins and engineers focused on discovering whether the root cause of the problem was the internet connection or the Wi-Fi router. Today, those remain top issues, but something else has also emerged.

EMA recently surveyed 354 IT professionals about how they support the networking requirements of remote workers. We identified three leading sources of trouble that significantly impact the network experience of remote workers. Two of the top issues are well-known to frontline NetOps teams. Nearly 42% called out problems with the home Wi-Fi setup. Nearly 41% complained about the quality of the local internet service provider. However, a third issue has emerged as a major headache. Nearly 42% pointed to network latency caused by the distance between remote users and the applications they are trying to access. Larger enterprises were more likely to cite this latency as a major issue.

With remote work persisting, companies have started hiring from global labor pools. They no longer confine their search to local talent. A company that was once 100% located in one city today won't hesitate to hire a talent that lives thousands of miles away. The result is a hyper-distributed workforce, where many end users are a world away from that company's data center.

This new dynamic is forcing a shift in infrastructure and cloud strategy. Nearly 83% of IT organizations told EMA that in recent years they have tried to optimize digital experience by deploying their applications into new cloud regions and edge cloud environments. Specifically, they are trying to bring their applications closer to the homes of their employees. For example, a company in New York may find that it's hired hundreds of new employees in Texas and California. In response, the IT organization establishes footprints with cloud providers in both regions to host a portfolio of latency-sensitive applications.

This architectural realignment will require network teams to work closely with cloud and DevOps teams to ensure that application infrastructure is optimized for these increasingly distributed remote workers. In fact, EMA sees evidence of this collaboration already. More than 40% of network teams are collaborating closely with cloud operations in response to the work-from-home revolution. More than 25% are working closer with DevOps teams. Also, 54% are partnering with IT service management, the group responsible for overall governance of IT services and best practices.

Clearly, the work-from-home revolution is more complex than many IT organizations originally thought. In the early days, most organizations focused on scaling up or modernizing their secure remote access infrastructure, replacing VPNs with zero trust network access and other products. Now they're realizing that the core of their digital infrastructure — where applications and data reside — also needs to transform.

Use the player or download the MP3 below to listen to EMA-APMdigest Podcast Episode 2:
Shamus McGillicuddy talks about Network Observability.

Click here for a direct MP3 download of Episode 2 - Part 1

Shamus McGillicuddy is VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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