Hybrid and the City: Five Ways SD WAN Solves Your Financial Services Industry Hybrid Work Challenges

  • Mimmo Zappi, VP – Enterprise and Capital Markets at Colt Technology Services

  • 11.09.2023 10:30 am
  • #financialServices

Unique challenges faced by the banking and financial services sector have made it complex for organisations to roll out clear flexible working policies. Robust regulations, the need for watertight security and the industry’s roots embedded deep in the physical heart of the world’s financial hubs create a challenging environment to shift from traditional to hybrid working models.

But the industry is more progressive and flexible than it’s being given credit for: visit financial centres across Europe and the US on Mondays and Fridays, and you’ll find it far quieter than the rest of the week, as workers continue to work remotely a few days a week. US firm Scoopfound more than two in three banks are offering workers hybrid work or full flexibility. In London,  Financial Times research found businesses including PwC, Société Générale and Aviva are encouraging staff to come into the office two or three days a week while others such as Allianz and Deloitte are offering more flexible working. Citi was featured in the Sunday Times recently for stipulating employees’ return to their London office, and Lloyds and HSBC are doing the same -but they’re not calling for staff to return five days a week. Most expect around three days a week in the office. One survey found 64% of all roles advertised by firms in London’s financial district are now listed as hybrid. 

For financial services’ IT departments, demand for flexible working continues to present difficulties as workers expect a consistent, seamless employee experience which replicates the office location – regardless of where they’re based. Now, IT teams’ priority is less focused on protecting endpoints within a set perimeter and more focused on providing workers with the ability to function productively and securely at any time and in a range of locations. Granting frictionless access to enterprise resources - without compromising network security - cannot easily be accomplished with traditional tools and legacy networking standards. Modern hybrid working requires agile, scalable technologies which enable safe access to essential workloads and applications, regardless of employees’ whereabouts.  

Next-generation technologies like SD WAN and SASE can provide a solution to that challenge, offering a foundation for a successful hybrid working strategy while removing stress, complexity and unnecessary cost.  Analysts Omdia have found that, by the end of 2023, most businesses will have deployed SD WAN in some parts of their network, with the market growing in spend across Enterprise firms from $5.5 billion in 2021 to $10.7 billion by 2027. 

Here are five hybrid challenges SD WAN and SASE technologies can help you solve:

Reducing network complexity
Complexity in your network is the nemesis of a successful hybrid work strategy: it makes it hard to guarantee democratic access to resources, for all employees. It also inhibits easy visibility for network managers. SD WAN or SASE are useful solutions if you want to replace disorderly, disparate solutions that make up the connectivity of many organisations with something more manageable. Many organisations currently struggle to control this mix of security appliances and point solutions, provisioned in different eras of the organisation’s development, or by different departments and with their own priorities in mind. A software-defined approach will replace this with consistent and secure network access of a uniform quality. 

Securing the hybrid workforce
With a hybrid workforce, the perimeter of your business is no longer fixed and defined. The more fluid your perimeter the more you need ways to understand and control it. The modern network edge will embrace remote locations and on-prem ones. These might be in the cloud or out in the field. A SASE deployment is all about enabling businesses to activate secure connectivity wherever it is needed, providing at the same time a single pane of glass offering insight into the status of network resources. All enterprises will have different types of requirement that must be considered before SASE can be effective.

Knowing who’s who on your network
To keep data and applications secure, you need to understand how your users are connecting and which devices they are using to do so. It will also be important to define their access profile. The attributes of SASE makes this easier than with legacy security standards. SASE security is driven by policy, and is not dependent on the location of the user. Access is based on a user’s identity rather than device or network access point. It also plays well with a range of different device types. SASE offers flexibility in where and when security services are applied, and meshed traffic patterns are handled with efficiency. 

Making the right long-term investments for the future
SASE and SD WAN are a plan for the future, not a quick fix for the past. They go well beyond the short-term solutions put in place in the pandemic, like legacy VPN connections, which are not up to supporting the complexities of hybrid work. Older solutions, created before the cloud era, will not protect against latest threats, and are difficult to scale and expensive to operate. These drawbacks will inevitably have a negative impact on network performance. New approaches and new technologies are needed, either to replace all older solutions wholesale or perhaps just to manage them better under a single platform. This is where a managed SASE solution can fit in.

Platform agnostic resolves compatibility challenges
SD WAN has the ability to unify the hybrid work experience. Where traditional connectivity struggles with hybrid work’s security and performance requirements, SD WAN is at home. It can save costs by working with existing network investments. It works in concert with MPLS and Internet connectivity, helping to empower employees with a consistent and ubiquitous experience whether they are working from the office or remotely. Because it is defined in software, SD WAN doesn’t leave you reliant on specific hardware or underlying technology. It is the perfect on ramp to cloud platforms and can prioritize business-critical traffic and real-time services. Packet loss and latency issues that might result from hybrid work are solved.

Given the unprecedented business and social change that we’re currently experiencing, it is imperative that our digital networks have the resilience and capability needed to enable them to scale in line with users’ needs. There’s no doubt that SD WAN and SASE are tomorrow’s connectivity solutions that should be implemented today in order to accommodate future needs and requirements.  

To find out more on SD WAN’s transformative impact on financial services, download our white paper here.

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