Sunday, 29th November 2020

Time to remotify your IT?

DW talks to Jim Crook, Senior Director of Marketing, CTERA, about the likelihood that the current imperative to embrace remote working will, in fact, become a permanent feature of the enterprise into the future.

1.Please can you provide some background on CTERA?

CTERA helps organizations use cloud to replace legacy file storage systems without compromising security or performance.

Our technology provides a hybrid connection for remote sites and users to a global file system powered by any public or private cloud infrastructure. Customers gain new levels of multi-site productivity and centralized data management while keeping costs under control.

Today our global file system powers more than 50,000 enterprise locations and millions of corporate devices in 110 countries. We’re proud to count McDonald’s, Humana, WPP, the U.S. Department of Defense, and many other leading organizations as customers.

2.COVID-19 is top of mind for organizations everywhere.What are you seeing from the CTERA POV?

Obviously, this is an event of historic magnitude. The short-term implications create a serious global economic challenge, especially in directly affected industries. As the realization grows that the current situation could span several months at least, we are now receiving inquiries from enterprise customers looking to rapidly expand remote working option to all their employees, and to provide better independence for remote site workers who cannot come to the main HQ.

For CTERA as a high-tech company, remote work is part of our DNA. All our employees have laptop and VPN access and can serve customers from anywhere. We also use our own products, which provide fast and secure data access to all our global employees and branches.

In a longer-term perspective, this crisis, unfortunate as it is, has the potentially to dramatically accelerate industry’s approach to remote work and cloud services, which will contribute to less traffic congestion, less air pollution and better health and life quality.

3.You mentioned remote work, which has become a huge area of focus for enterprises. How are you helping customers with this shift?

We’ve always believed the future to be remote and the COVID pandemic has proven that to be true. Even before the coronavirus hit, the trend of remote work was emerging, and now businesses have begun to realize and embrace the fact that a remote workforce is a positive. Once we are post-coronavirus, remote work won’t go away. Many workers will continue working from home. Smaller offices and travel restrictions will be commonplace; employees will be further divided into silos; and organizations will seek to improve their readiness for disasters and pandemics.

To that end, our focus is helping customers close the gaps in their remote work/WFH strategies that have been revealed by COVID-19. We help them extend their corporate file system to remote users without breaking file access protocols, changing file structures, or compromising security.

4.How does your approach differ from other remote work strategies?

The general approach to remote work, especially in traditional industries in which cloud adoption is not prevalent, has been to set up VPNs for office users to connect to an office file server and then to hope the end user has strong enough connectivity to ensure files can be accessed quickly through a web browser. Of course, this tends to be a clunky, inefficient process that slows user productivity and is generally not sustainable for extended periods, such as the weeks/months spent working from home in a global pandemic.

But going all-in on a SaaS or cloud-based alternative also doesn’t make sense for these companies because of the significant change required, such as user access experience/protocols, restructuring of file systems, security practices, etc. Especially when the organization wants to return to their normal ways of working at the office when the crisis abates.

Organizations are finding it more productive and cost-efficient to use cloud technology to extend traditional file infrastructure capabilities by replicating office data to the cloud and enabling WFH users to access the corporate file system from their usual network file sharing protocols. This is the basic CTERA solution architecture and it will become increasingly useful in the post-COVID era, where remote work perhaps will be the norm for many businesses.

5.Which CTERA products / services are seeing the most interest from customers in this new environment?

The unified architecture of our global file system replicates file data across branch filers, remote desktops, and mobile and VDI clients. This means we can support a wide variety of file services use cases, and therefore our customers are well-positioned to securely extend corporate data to users working anywhere.

Currently customers are looking for the most seamless, secure, and quick way to ensure productivity for WFH users. They want as little change to the file services experiences users enjoyed at the office, and they want to maintain the security and performance of the office environment as well. This is the main reason customers and partners find the totality of the CTERA platform to be the right fit.

Without any new infrastructure investment, organizations can enable secure file sharing and collaboration and data protection through our endpoint client or build the CTERA global file system into their VDI deployments. Both paths enable WFH users to have an office-like experience with full synchronization to corporate data. We call it Remotifying Your IT.

6.Do you think it will be possible to quickly return to the pre-crisis level of activity once the containment measures are lifted? Or do you think it will be longer?

While we believe remote work will remain in force long after the health crisis subsides, that doesn’t mean user productivity levels cannot return to what they once were. In fact, the adoption of remote work models provides huge advantages in terms of business continuity, productivity, and operational efficiency.We’re seeing it in our customers, in our partners, and in our own organization.

But most organizations, including those in traditional industries, will need to quickly learn how to enable their remote workforce from the current level of around 20% to over 90%. As such, we are focusing much of our efforts on assisting customers with IT Remotification and ensuring they are ready to meet the challenges of remote workforce enablement today and tomorrow.

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