Business Agility and the Covid Delta Variant

Illustration of Covid virus

Covid-19 Redux?

It took just ten days for Israel to return its mask mandate for indoor public spaces. Daily cases of the new Covid Delta variant, first discovered in India, are spreading rapidly, affecting unvaccinated children and adolescents and even some vaccinated adults. In the UK and the EU, the Delta variant is quickly spreading, and evidence suggests that it is 60% more transmissible than the first Covid-19 virus that plunged the world economy into chaos. 

No one expected Covid-19 or its impact on the world economy in 2020. Neither did they expect the freak arctic winter storm that caused the Great Texas Blackout and nearly crashed the grid. Of course, natural disasters are hard to predict. So are unnatural disasters such as ransomware attacks on a hospital or medical clinic. But considering the business upheavals of 2020, it makes plenty of sense to be prepared for the unexpected. 

Agility or a Crisis? Which Comes First?

Organizations are most agile during a crisis. During the height of the Covid pandemic, GM and Ford rapidly converted idle vehicle production lines into ventilator production lines. Pfizer and BioNTech developed the corona vaccine in record time. And of course, many factories rapidly produced millions of surgical masks, whether from cloth, paper, or other materials. 

When failure is not an option, agility is often an outcome. People are forced to think out of the box, and the urgency of the tasks requires risk-taking. 

Agility can also be put into regular practice by tearing down hierarchies to create cross-functional teams that speed decision-making. Another technique is to divide larger projects or processes into smaller batches with quick feedback that can be rapidly implemented. Both these changes make people highly productive and enable them to continually refine and innovate to cost-effectively meet the goals of a project or the needs of a market. 

Creating an Agile Network

Initially formalized for software development, the agile mindset has been expanded as a general framework for business. And in our digital world, agility is equally applicable to corporate networks, where it is a key driver for migrating resources to the cloud. Cloud computing boosts organizations’ speed and scalability, enables rapid adjustments to changes in the market, and dramatically reduces IT costs.

Unlike the hardware and headquarters-based technologies that most companies used before Covid, cloud-delivered technologies enable IT and Security professionals to deploy networks in hours instead of weeks. They can add servers, applications, and databases without purchasing and waiting for the delivery of hardware and then spending hours and days on installations and configurations. 

Most importantly, cloud computing eliminates the need to deal with the constant stream of bug fixes and security updates. Just think of the risks of the 2021 Microsoft Exchange Server Hack vs. the safety of the cloud-based Outlook 365, and the choice is obvious.

Bringing Resources to the Edge

Network agility has rapidly progressed beyond cloud-based applications such as Gmail, Outlook, and Salesforce. There are now options for building virtual networks on the cloud, with all of the speed, scalability, and cost advantages of cloud computing. 

Network as a Service (NaaS) delivers networking “as a service,” providing access to networking tools and processes from a centralized location in the cloud. It can help IT teams deploy, interconnect and manage their networks, and optimize and segment access according to company policies. 

From the cloud, IT teams can deploy private gateways to connect international branches and employees with reduced latency and optimal speed, use a variety of tunneling techniques, segment network access, create access policies and enforce security measures such as Single Sign-On integration and Two-Factor Authentication. 

Stay Agile & Stay Safe

Network as a Service offers a low-latency and cloud-native solution. Providers will have multiple managed data centers throughout the world to bring networking to the edge where your employees are located. It lets you quickly and easily integrate networking and security functionality directly into cloud-based business applications such as Salesforce, Google Suite, AWS, and more. In addition, it offers a variety of security tools, including multifactor authentication, automatic Wi-Fi security, DNS filtering, device posture security, and more—from the ease of a single, integrated suite of applications. 

NaaS is part of the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) blueprint for using software-defined edge networking, user-focused authentication, access control, and seamless integration across the cloud. It is a key enabler of the permanent hybrid workforce and delivers the agility we need to successfully handle seasonal hurricanes, snowstorms, and whatever Covid variant comes our way.