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Biggest challenges UAE firms face as they switch to remote working

Biggest challenges UAE firms face as they switch to remote working

Companies must strengthen their IT systems to ensure they are able to support work-from-home policies, says Vijay Babber, senior channel manager, Middle East and Africa at Gigamon

With several organisations regionally now working out of home due to Covid-19, are companies equipped with the right IT infrastructure to support this shift?

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is forcing companies to completely re-think their workplace. Work-from-home (WFH), which used to be a model mostly for remote employees or something granted as an exception, has very quickly become the recommended and preferred approach across many large organisations, for all employees.

The short answer is no, most companies are not well equipped for this shift. Agile working policies, particularly in larger organisations, is a trend which has gradually been increasing over the last few years. However, we are definitely behind the curve in the Middle East region on this. Even the larger organisations who were moving towards this approach were not set up for rapid adoption of a work from home policy for all employees. This set-up dramatically increases strain on existing IT systems that were never designed for this scenario.

IT departments themselves are under huge pressure to get a sustainable, reliable infrastructure in place as the corporate LAN essentially moves primarily to the WAN.

And the situation is made more complex by the economic uncertainty which drives an increased focus on cost containment across every industry.

Clearly, this raises many concerns for any organisation on how they can remain successful and keep their networks secure.

How big a concern is security?

Security is a huge concern. Aside from the practical elements of getting everyone physically able to work from home in terms of their desk set-up, this shift in working model demands major changes to the organisation’s infrastructure.

This puts enormous strain on not only application performance but also on the entire security posture of the organisation. Both network performance and application performance tools will need to be deployed to manage the now predominantly WAN-based traffic.

As the world grapples with those impacts and a drastically changing working model, cyber attackers are already taking advantage of the situation, while thinly stretched IT departments are focused on responding to an unprecedented pandemic. Hackers will attempt to scam individuals, launch phishing attacks to get people to click on malicious links or open infected mail attachments. With your workforce operating from home, this clearly is a concern.

Some organisations have already been victim to this. As an example, fake Covid-19 maps are being used as a dropper for malware. Unsuspecting users who are seeking information on the Covid-19 spread are being enticed to download these maps, resulting in their systems being compromised. Often the goal is credential theft and if user IDs and passwords are obtained, they may be able to access the organizations “intranet” and with the implicit trust of being on the intranet, gain access to systems that can easily be compromised.

How can Gigamon support companies in the current scenario?

In order to survive this landscape, businesses need to adapt fast. Gigamon’s solutions can help companies to stay secure and efficient during this time by allowing you to maintain visibility of your network and solve security and performance needs across virtual and cloud networks.

The way in which Gigamon can help an organisation is actually threefold. Firstly, we can help companies to continue to run fast even in the shift from LAN to WAN. Secondly, we help them to stay secure as the organisation turns inside out. And thirdly, we help companies do more with less which, right now, is crucial.

During this transition, having accurate visibility of your network and traffic in motion is absolutely critical. Gigamon’s platform provides visibility into exactly what’s happening on the network. Application Intelligence automatically identifies over 3,300 applications on the network, thus allowing IT to prioritise some apps and ignore others. For example, most network tools can be spared from having to inspect the burgeoning WebEx and Zoom traffic.

In terms of security, Gigamon helps with visibility and threat detection on user traffic that was previously predominantly inside the firewall. By aggregating and redirecting traffic to security tools, Gigamon helps better monitor traffic to assist with the “Zero Trust” concept. And Gigamon’s ThreatINSIGHT solution helps detect and respond to threats faster.

And in these uncertain times when budgets are constrained, Gigamon helps IT get more out of their existing infrastructure investments. Our solutions increase the effectiveness of their existing tools and extends lives of older ones. This means that you don’t necessarily need to invest in more security tools.

Can you elaborate on the way you operate in the region?

We have a regional sales team who are all based in Dubai looking after Middle East, Africa and Russia.

As a channel-first company, we are focused on expanding our ecosystem. Gigamon is fundamentally changing how we go to market, and with partners initiating a significant portion of our business, we want to demonstrate our commitment to them in return.

With one of the industry’s strongest and most successful partner programmes, we empower our partners to identify and drive revenue opportunities. To support this, we provide online learning and certification for sales and technical, as well as discounts and incentive strategies.

We primarily focus on what I believe is our sweet spot and key growth area, and that is with the SP and enterprise/government customer. We therefore look to partner with companies who can help facilitate this and work with our eco-vendor community.

By sharing our expert knowledge and providing continuous enablement, we will help our partners identify and build upon new and existing business opportunities.

Looking ahead, what is your advice to companies that may switch to some form of remote working in the longer term?

While we hope and expect the pandemic to subside in the weeks and months to come, some of these working habit changes may never go back to “how it used to be”. Globally, agile working is a movement that was already in motion. We needed to catch up in the Middle East so this may provide an opportunity for many organisations to jump-start that change. While the conditions are not ideal, we have to look for the positives.

So, my advice would be to embrace it, and start making changes now that can be continued to bring your organisation into the future model of working.

Don’t rush into panic buying multiple security solutions and take the time to consider the most cost-effective solutions that will utilize and improve your existing tools to increase performance and security.

Lastly, what are your future plans for the region?

We already operate extensively throughout the GCC but we are focused on expanding our reach and our partner base further, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

To find out more about Gigamon, visit www.gigamon.com

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