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Building a Network Architecture to Support the Next Phase of Remote Work

The global pandemic continues to fluctuate, but the reliance on IT services and teams to support service continuity in the public sector remains steady. To ensure network operations continue running at peak performance, there are several actions government IT teams can take to consistently maintain a network architecture capable of supporting a remote workforce. IT tools like support tickets and the IT service desk directly support end users and organizational goals. Consider, too, creating a business continuity plan (BCP) to help business restoration efforts. Finally, ensure all members of your organization understand monitoring metrics and monitoring requirements, so they can best evaluate telework risk and preparedness.

IT Service Desk and Support Tickets

Agencies must ensure their IT service desk system is easily accessible to employees, so they can quickly create a trouble ticket if they experience issues. Also, support personnel responding to reported issues are most effective when the service desk ticketing system is integrated with existing remote support tools, network monitoring tools, and authentication tools. Having a performance baseline, monitoring and authentication history, and a knowledge base of previous remote employee issues helps the team more quickly and effectively identify and mitigate issues. Remember, tools allowing support personnel to control remote systems and devices when resolving tickets will enhance support capabilities while minimizing response times.

Business Continuity Plan

A BCP ensures an organization’s critical business processes continue running during a disaster or emergency. With a BCP in place, government IT teams can react quickly and effectively to a crisis without risking a loss in organizational reputation or public confidence. What types of detail should an effective BCP cover? Compared to disaster plans focusing solely on technical operations, BCPs also take personnel into account when considering business continuity. A BCP should ensure organizational data is backed up and stored externally to your operational environment and include an up-to-date checklist of information to help your employees keep in touch during a crisis. This checklist should also include incident response activities. Lastly, a BCP should be tested prior to any crisis to ensure the information contained is readily available and can efficiently support response activities.

Monitoring Requirements

Did you know there are security, telework, and remote access best practices outlined in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Special Publication (NIST) 800-46, “Guide to Enterprise Telework, Remote Access, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Security?” Here are a few examples of evaluation metrics recommended by NIST to help support successful and safe telework:
  • Enable scalability. Migrate organizational workloads to scalable, cloud-based solutions capable of accommodating a remote workforce and supporting continuity of operations per the BCP.
  • Minimize the attack surface. Adopt cloud-based solutions designed to implement a single outbound port, preferably over an encrypted communications channel (e.g., HTTPS over port 443) that communicates with multiple internal endpoints.
  • Enforce zero-trust access. Implementing zero-trust access ensures all users—even those inside the organization’s enterprise network—must be authenticated and authorized prior to being granted or keeping access to applications and data. Zero-trust access incorporates technologies such as multi-factor authentication, identity and access management, and endpoint security technologies to verify the user’s identity and support system security policy goals.
One year into the pandemic, not much is changing; government IT teams must continue to effectively support long-term telework capabilities. Ensuring your service desk and ticketing system are integrated across all IT platforms, maintaining an up-to-date BCP capable of supporting organizational goals and personnel identification requirements, and migrating existing workloads to a multitenant cloud platform with zero-trust access and scalability will provide a solid foundation for future success. Find the full article on Government Technology Insider.
Brandon Shopp
Brandon Shopp is the vice president of product strategy for security, compliance, and tools at SolarWinds. He served as our director of product management since…
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