Before this spring, many organizations were already set up to accommodate some portion of their employees working remotely. But very few businesses were equipped to handle all of their employees working from home.

Learn how CDW can help you support crisis management and business continuity.

Workers who were accustomed to being in the office every day bombarded their corporate networks with remote requests for access to applications that often weren’t configured in the best way to be delivered remotely. As a result, many employees saw performance problems and reduced functionality in the very applications they relied on to do their jobs.

It’s been said that we’re living through what is effectively the world’s largest business continuity exercise. Here are three lessons that business and IT leaders should take away from it.

The Elasticity of the Cloud Can Make Organizations More Nimble

For obvious reasons, cloud-hosted desktops and applications can help alleviate pressure on corporate networks. But many organizations also overlook another key public cloud offering: Platform as a Service. While there is some effort needed to replatform custom applications in the public cloud, the benefits are often well worth it. Utilizing PaaS allows organizations to eliminate many of the components previously needed to manage applications and infrastructure, including, sometimes, monitoring tools.

Once applications are up and running, organizations essentially need only to provide employees with access to them. This can result in considerable cost savings and also creates a scenario where employees can do 95 percent of their job without having to come back to the “mother ship” of the corporate data center.

Tiering Applications Is Essential to Business Continuity

When we talk with IT leaders about business continuity, they often conflate the term with disaster recovery and focus on elements such as their data backup schedules. But business continuity — the ability of an organization to run its critical business functions during an emergency — is too often an afterthought.

To spin up critical applications, of course, business and IT leaders first must know which applications are critical. It’s important for organizations to take the time to rate and tier their applications, identify those that are essential for business operations and formulate a plan for ensuring access to those apps during a crisis. Where applicable, they also must test those plans (this is a big one).

Organizations Need Robust, Distributed Networks

Many of the problems that employees have experienced with application performance in recent weeks can be chalked up to the hub-and-spoke design of many networks. This architecture relies heavily on backhaul to a central location to push and pull data. The model may hold up under typical use, but when 10,000 employees are all trying to remotely access virtual desktops and applications at the same time, the system can often buckle.

If organizations take steps to build out more distributed networks, they can help ensure business continuity even in a situation like the one we’re currently living through. Rather than trying to pump a tidal wave of data through a garden hose, a distributed network essentially allows organizations to pump that same tidal wave through 1,000 hoses.

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