Making a case for cloud service providers over on-premises software
March 29, 2020
Caught with your pants down
Who saw it coming—an invisible coronavirus has spread around the globe in just 60 days, and now a worldwide pandemic has us all working from home. As the IT specialist at your place of employment, you suddenly realize that your IT systems were not designed for “everyone” to work from home. Having the entire workforce (or close to it) work from home is bringing your IT system to its knees. You are seeing in real time why not moving your on-premises IT systems to a true cloud service provider was a mistake. Let’s take a look at a few major issues you are now dealing with by supporting a workforce trapped in their homes without a cloud service provider.
While my VPN gently weeps
The logical answer to remote access for most IT professionals is the good old VPN. Isn’t it cool that a virtual connection can allow your employees in but keep the bad guys out? Well, it certainly is cool, but at a cost. Let’s take a look at some of the immediate VPN problems you are currently dealing with during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
VPN client connections are taxing on VPN servers and VPN’s don’t vertically scale well. The more users on the VPN the more it taxes the VPN servers, so taxing in fact that the VPN starts failing for everyone.
VPNs utilize the bandwidth of internet connectivity both in and out of the corporate network (upload and download). Since all remote workers’ VPN connections have to come into the corporate network using the same internet connection, the bandwidth available on the corporate internet connection is quickly saturated.
No matter how much we want them to be, VPN connections are NOT inherently persistent connections. VPN connections will disconnect and need something or someone to reconnect them. Employees are not familiar with this and often find themselves disconnected, wondering why their applications are not connecting/working. This is especially problematic for software applications like security monitoring services where alerts are received within the software application, indicating to a human that a response is needed. If the VPN connection goes down, the alert will never make it to where it needs to go.
Worst of all, and the most overlooked, since VPN connections are Layer 2 or Layer 3 anything connected on the “user end” of the VPN is as though it were connected directly to your corporate network. Since employees are most likely using their personal computers at home to VPN connect into the corporate network, all of the viruses, malware, and ransomware is coming into the corporate network and potentially infecting other remote computers via the VPN.
The irony of the last bullet should not be lost on any of us IT professionals. While you fight the community spread of the coronavirus by social distancing, you now are also enabling the more rampant spread of digital viruses within your own computer networks.
How I miss my gigabit network
Although broadband speeds into our homes have increased dramatically in recent years, they are typically not even close to the gigabit plus speeds we are used to at the office. This obvious discrepancy in data speeds shows its ugly face when an employee tries to use the fat client of an on-premises software application that also needs to connect back to an on-premises server. Employees are complaining that these applications are slow and are, at times, even non-responsive. This is not something you want to hear. Let’s face it—on-premises software was never meant to be run over internet connections.
The help desk bears the brunt
The help desk job was tough enough when all desktops were in one location, under one roof. With a remote workforce, those desktops are now distributed all over our various communities. The help desk job is now nearly impossible, especially if employees are using their own personal computers at home. Between differing hardware and OS versions, the varying home-internet connections, and the various IT skill levels of the remote workforce, the IT help desk has a massive uphill battle. My hat goes off to all of you IT help desk folks!
There is a better way
Now that I’ve filled your mind up with despair, I feel it is only fair to now give you hope. There has never been a better time to re-evaluate your IT strategy as it relates to truly moving to the cloud. I know many readers may misunderstand what I mean by moving to the cloud. I’m not suggesting that companies simply “lift and shift” their on-premises services to the cloud. Your problems do not go away under that model, especially the optimization, security, and remote help desk issues. Instead, I’m suggesting that you completely re-evaluate your need for an on-premises, fat Win32 Client/Server, old-school-way-of-doing-things application. Start considering a cloud service provider that delivers applications 100% via web browser. (And NO, remote desktops do not count.) I urge you to read my article titled “It’s on the Cloud and Other Misunderstandings.”
The proof is in the pudding
We’ve heard from, and personally seen, many companies who have on-premises systems that are struggling to move their workforce to a work-from-home model. We’ve also seen other companies who currently and solely use cloud service providers, who made the transition to work-from-home rather easily.
Case in point, our company, LiveView Technologies, has no on-premises systems. Every software application we use from sales, engineering, HR, finance, manufacturing, communications (phone, messaging, email, web conference, etc.), and access control/security are all provided by best-in-class cloud service providers. When our employees recently started working from home, they literally just woke up in the morning, turned on their personal computers, and safely and efficiently started their workday. Now that’s cool!
Even partners of LiveView Technologies were able to do the same. We have many partners, from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses, who use our video management system (VMS), video archiving, security monitoring, and IoT data pipeline SaaS solutions. They also had their workforce just start working from home with no problems. Patrick Henderson of Protos Security based in Roanoke, VA said it best:
“Think about this, these LVT (LiveView Technologies) units are immune to coronavirus and our dispatch is working remotely from home monitoring these units because LVT has a cloud-based platform. We are excited to say we are at 100% while the ‘big monitoring’ centers cannot operate agile like us. I am not sure what they are doing to serve their clients.”
So what are you trying to say?
Simply put—if you thought the impossible was impossible think again. Here we are, in a worldwide stay-in-place quarantine. Very few health experts predicted this even two months ago. As IT professionals, it is our job to anticipate all threats on the business continuity of the companies we work for. It is time to reevaluate our on-premises IT systems. It is time to truly move to the cloud.
If you are a security monitoring professional or are in charge of the video and IoT systems at your company and you are still using legacy on-premises systems, let us at LiveView Technologies help you get to the cloud.