Learning from COVID

Top Five IT Lessons – Number 3 : Networks and Remote Work


The business requirement to enable remote work was one of the most obvious IT challenges of the COVID lockdowns. This challenge was well met by most IT teams throughout Australia. So much so, that remote work is now being considered as a permanent part of the future of work.


Which is why networks and remote work is in our top five list, coming in at number three. The key lesson being that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and in businesses that are increasingly reliant on remote workers and cloud computing, the major link in the chain is networking.


Both large, multi-site companies requiring wide area networks (WAN) and small, single location businesses that need only a local area network (LAN) should pay careful attention to the design stage of their network. More than ever before, will consideration need to be given to support a large, remote workforce. Using best practices and standards will ensure that your network is optimised and will cause fewer issues in the future. So here are some network design best practices to help you create your WAN or LAN.


Think differently


With the advent of the new Covid Normal, a remote workforce is and will be a large part of many organisations for the foreseeable future, if not permanently. Covid-19 has pushed change in IT quicker than anything else in the past.


What does this mean to your business and IT services, those upgrades you had planned – do they look different now?


    • Is there a SaaS or cloud-native solution out there that works better for a remote workforce?
    • How do I get to keep my staff, services and data secure when I can’t manage them as I used to?
    • What other challenges will I face with a semi-permanent remote workforce?


Winthrop has focused on solutions that are connection agnostic for over 10 years; it is core to our business and offerings. When Covid-19 hit, for most of our customers it was business as usual with only minor changes to allow them to function in the new remote world. Winthrop can help you rethink your IT strategy and put together a plan for moving to a new modern environment.


Select the right solution


You’ll need to be able to find a balance between affordability and functionality.


The market is flooded with choices ranging from the inexpensive solutions designed for the consumer and small office sector; to enterprise-grade equipment with very sophisticated capabilities. Rather than using the selection criteria of the cheapest or the one you’re familiar with, aim for a selection that will fit your budget while meeting as much of your business needs as possible.


At Winthrop, our preference is to work to understand our customer’s environment, future direction and constraints to recommend the most appropriate solution for you. This starts with our sales and pre-sales team and where necessary, extends to our subject matter experts and the vendors themselves.


Plan your connectivity


When it comes to providing access to your network, consider what you need now and what you may need as your company grows.


    • Start with how many users you are going to need to support and what that will mean in terms of workstations and other devices that you will need to connect, including telephones.
    • With so many applications moving to Cloud and SaaS, you’ll need to have sufficient bandwidth available to meet your needs. This will affect your firewall, switches – even the type of cabling required. Fibre optic and Cat5/Cat6 selection will largely be dictated by the environment in which your network operates.
    • If Wi-Fi forms part of your strategy, the minimum you should consider is WPA2 but WPA3 is available from most key vendors in conjunction with Wi-Fi 6.


Whether you’re deploying a new Wi-Fi network or experiencing a degradation of your existing Wi-Fi, a site survey is a worthwhile investment. It is used to determine how many access points are required and where they need to be located. We can also assist with the design, configuration, assisting cablers to perform the install, then validate and test the network.


Benefit from standardising


Where possible, always use the same infrastructure hardware. It will make configuration and maintenance easier with fewer different assets to learn, manage and monitor; especially if something goes wrong. It also makes it less expensive to keep spares on hand for quick replacement if there are failures.


With hardware models continually being released and becoming end of life; it can be difficult to determine appropriate replacements. Draw upon the advice of our experts to find the best selection for your purchases.


Include monitoring and management


With proper management and monitoring solution, you can change your support from a reactive to proactive model and fix problems before your staff are even aware there is an issue. Including monitoring tools in your design can give you early indicators of the need for additional capacity across parts of the network. Likewise, management tools can give you the status of your equipment so you can see problems as they happen and fix them right away.


Our Managed Services include deploying sensors across your environment, including the network, to monitor performance and create alerts for deviations that require attention. These alerts are reviewed by our support team, providing remediation or escalation as required. Having this in place with Winthrop national support team frees IT staff to focus on driving innovation and business improvements.

Winthrop Australia

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