Does your network have what it takes to support the growing number of remote workers in your organization? This is the central question facing many IT organizations today as they work to stretch their network capabilities out to the edge, where the majority of their employees, contractors and partners are now telecommuting from home.
Even before the Coronavirus shifted the global workforce from offices to homes, the U.S. alone had 5 million employees regularly telecommuting to their workplaces as of 2018.[i] And you can add to that the 1.6 million U.S. contractors who regularly work from home as part of the gig economy.[ii] In the European Union, 5.2% of persons between 15 to 64 years old usually worked from home in 2018.[iii] Gartner estimates that “By 2024, 30% of office employees globally will partly or fully work remotely — up from 5% in 2019. [iv]”
To address the increasing demands today’s remote working trends are placing on public and private networks, our enterprise, public sector and service provider customers are adopting a number of creative strategies for deploying networking and cloud-based UCC solutions on Platform Equinix®.
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The following are some of the key approaches our customers are embracing to quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively reinforce their networking capabilities for a growing “work from home” world.
- Going virtual for greater flexibility and scale
Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) can extend your current network capabilities without requiring you to purchase special-purpose hardware. A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) moves more of the network control into the cloud, enabling you to more quickly and cost effectively connect your enterprise network over a large geographic distance. SD-WAN services can help you quickly extend your network backbone closer to where your remote users are, using either the public internet or private interconnection. There are many virtual private network (VPN) interconnection solutions available today on Platform Equinix, such as for Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN, Cisco SD-WAN and Verizon Virtual Network Services SD-WAN.
- Tapping into cloud-based UCC
SD-WAN solutions also enable you to quickly access cloud-based UCC platforms either via the public internet or VPNs. For organizations that require users to take the VPN route, there are solutions such as Orange Business Services, which enables direct and secure access to cloud-based UCC service providers such as Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. And Zoom also delivers private interconnection as a service on Platform Equinix to its customers as an alternative to the public internet when accessing its video unified communications services.
In addition to leveraging SD-WANs for private peering between your business and network and cloud providers, you can use them to gain fast and secure access to critical partner ecosystems.
- Ramping-up network bandwidth for increased productivity
HD video conferencing and other types of UCC applications require extremely large amounts of network bandwidth. Users can consult their UCC provider’s website to see their individual requirements, but to give you a general idea, for high-quality WebEx meeting voice and video,[v] Cisco recommends 2.5 Mbps to receive and 3.0 Mbps to send – and that’s just for a one-to-one conversation. Now think about an enterprise supporting thousands of concurrent HD video sessions for its telecommuting employees!
Fast provisioning of higher bandwidth connections for both VPN and public internet access will also be critical to support high user volumes for other remote worker productivity solutions such as virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI). By leveraging interconnection SD-WAN technologies on Platform Equinix, you can quickly tap into greater bandwidth capacity on-demand. For example, Verizon’s Software-Defined Interconnect (SDI) solution applies SDN technology to deliver direct and secure interconnection to its private IP MPLS network globally between Verizon MPLS networks and Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX ®) data centers around the world within minutes. Verizon also supports vManage, which ensures visibility and control over your end-to-end SD-WAN infrastructure, including interconnecting to multiple clouds.
- Expanding IP coverage through peering
Global IP peering and internet exchanges, such as those managed by Equinix and its partners, are critical to scaling public internet networking reach and capacity. These internet exchange points aggregate IP traffic among multiple internet services, networks and content delivery network providers within the same physical location. This proximity among these providers reduces the number of hops between them as they “share” moving IP traffic between their networks. IP exchange points scale network traffic while reducing latency and improving round-trip time, as well as potentially reducing costs.
The other advantage of leveraging internet exchanges on Platform Equinix is that those network peers are also in the same location as leading cloud providers. This includes on-ramps to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and Oracle cloud platforms, which enable fast access to cloud-based UCC platforms and other virtual services such as VMware Cloud on AWS.
- Increasing proximity to network, cloud services and business ecosystems
Placing your computing resources closer to networking and cloud ecosystems reduces latency and enables your users to more quickly and easily access the essential services they need to achieve optimum performance. More than 1,800 network and 2,900+ cloud and IT service providers reside on Platform Equinix in 55 metro markets around the world, providing you with on-demand access to the critical services your telecommuting users need to keep working.
Equinix provides the digital infrastructure and solutions today’s organizations require to empower a growing remote workforce. Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) delivers fast software-defined interconnection between enterprises, networks and clouds by reducing the connection provisioning time to minutes versus weeks. Network Edge is optimized for instant selection, deployment and interconnection to leading virtual network services on demand, with no additional hardware requirements. And Equinix Internet Exchange scales exchange internet traffic through the largest global peering solution across more than 30 markets.
Read more about ECX Fabric to learn how you can quickly scale your networking capabilities regionally, nationally and around the world.
[i] Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 American Community Service (ACS) data.
[ii] USAFacts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “What is the gig economy?” 2019.
[iii] Eurostat, “How usual is it to work from home?” June 2020.
[iv] Gartner, “Market Trends: Acceleration of Remote Work Leads to a Shift in Enterprise Communications Services Consumption,” (Gartner subscription required) By Analysts Hanna Karki, Grigory Betskov, Susanna Silvennoinen, 5 February 2020 – ID G00715355. Gartner subscription required.
[v] Cisco, “What are the minimum bandwidth requirements for sending and receiving video in Cisco WebEx meetings?’
HD video conferencing and other types of UCC applications require extremely large amounts of network bandwidth.