The Cloud Experience Everywhere

Redefining the Workplace with Secure, Pervasive Access

Businesses are starting to see the workplace experience not just as a strong competitive differentiator in the market for talent – though it’s certainly that – but also as a key enabler for innovation and profitability (see my previous post Want to Drive Innovation and Profitability? Create a Great Employee Experience). To unlock these deep potentials of the workplace, it’s crucial to focus closely on employee needs – which may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised how often companies structure their workplace transformations around the technologies rather than around the people.

Employees in the modern workplace are hungry for a more dynamic, collaborative experience. They’re deeply interested in how workplaces are structured, and they’re aware of the possibilities on the technology side. They understand that the nature of work is changing. Low-complexity, repetitive tasks are now, typically, the domain of robots or automated workflows, and that will increasingly be the case as the AI revolution unfolds. Consider the typical office design from just five or ten years ago, which required you to sit in a cubicle, at your desk, connected via an ethernet cable. It was hard to move around your office space into different neighborhoods, and engage people in natural working styles. Paper-pushing was a big part of the job. Not so much nowadays; we've automated a lot of those workflows.HPE20160726071_800_0_72_RGB.jpg

 The new normal

Employees want pervasive access to enable that experience of working wherever they choose – in work areas, office cafeterias, conference rooms. They want to be untethered from their desks so they can interact with people and their physical surroundings in much more dynamic ways. But beyond that, they want secure pervasive access. They need to know that they can trust the infrastructure they’re using and that their work output isn’t going to be lost through some compliance issue, malware, fraud, or even theft.

Thinking about secure, pervasive access takes us beyond simply focusing on wireless vs. wired infrastructure. It means thinking about things like seamless identity access management (IAM) to simplify employees’ access to the apps and data they rely on. It means building in data protection at the foundation level to provide not just reliable networking, but the trust and the security that employees need, consciously or subconsciously, to maintain high productivity levels.

Defending the borderless perimeter

Just as work spaces are adapting rapidly to new styles of collaboration and decision-making, security is evolving quickly, too. Not so long ago, if someone gained unauthorized access to a corporate building – maybe by tailgating in behind an employee – they could connect a laptop to the ethernet and get access to some or all of the company’s IT assets. The unspoken assumption was, "Well, if you've gained physical entry to a building, you probably should be there. And in that case, you should have access to IT resources.”

Those days are gone. Companies are now thinking in terms of a borderless perimeter. Rather than regarding physical spaces as defining the perimeter for security, we now seek to expand security across boundaries. It shouldn’t really matter whether you're inside company headquarters in the United States, or you’re at a branch in Japan, for example. The goal is to deliver the same level of advanced security regardless of where you access from, who you are, or what you're trying to do.

How to cast the net

To provide that kind of employee experience, security and IAM must become more context-sensitive. Contextual information enables you to design highly customized access to corporate resources and helps you defend against intrusions.

HPE20170223049_800_0_72_RGB.jpgLet’s say an employee’s personal identity – we’ll call the employee Alex – is stolen through a phishing scam. Armed with that data, a bad actor might try to access confidential documents or manipulate servers.

By merging contextual security with the network infrastructure, we can leverage identities, locations, and activities dynamically to allow or disallow access. Essentially, the network can say "Alex typically logs on at 9:00 a.m., and accesses three different document shares. Today, he's logging in at a different time, he's trying to access different resources, and he's trying to do things that he's never done before. Plus, he’s logged in from a place that’s 300 miles away from his usual location, and this is the first time he's done that." Those are major red flags. A decision-making algorithm kicks in and – based on the company’s specific policies and use cases – denies access. That action has now shut down a crime that might have been committed under Alex’s name, even though Alex knew nothing about it.

Secure, pervasive access is a must-have for the next generation workplace, and it’s the foundation for an equally important goal: creating an environment that enables activity-based work anywhere, anytime, from any device. I’ll explain how companies can achieve that in my next blog. 

In the meantime, learn more about HPE Pointnext Mobility and Workplace Services here

Find us in Vegas!

See how Aruba and HPE Pointnext are helping customers create the modern workplace of the future, come visit us at Aruba Atmosphere, Vegas March 25-30 in the Innovation Zone.

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Global Solution Strategist