Following an era of IT centralization, one might think today’s branch office easily accepts everything that comes from corporate headquarters and seamlessly hums along, operating like a mini version of headquarters and, of course, looking just like all the other branch offices. But nothing could be further from the truth. Branch offices are alive and well and a new version of “branch IT,” one that’s cloud-savvy and security-enabled, must become part of our IT mindset. With more than 50 branch offices operating in 40 countries, CAME Group values and embraces branches. We also recognize that “branch office IT” isn’t just an IT or even a CIO problem – the trends we see require buy-in from executive and board-level managers to make it an actionable priority.
Geographically dispersed and operating across regional and national boundaries, branch offices are sometimes brought into the fold through acquisition and are opened over time at different points in a company’s maturity. Branches may vary widely in their IT infrastructure, endpoints in use, connectivity requirements and even their degree of modernity. Branch offices have always been challenging, but in an era where cybersecurity is paramount, they matter more than ever and need to be prioritized.
Here are three trends that are elevating the importance of consistent IT policy and security that embraces and protects branch offices:
- Public cloud
- Cloud security is now one of the most pressing areas for IT investment; not only are most enterprises using the cloud, but branch offices may vary widely in how they are using the public cloud, and which cloud/s they use.
- Many SaaS companies now host in the cloud; that means the data in those applications is in the public cloud, so the security extended to those applications is a pressing matter for C-suite attention.
- Shadow IT: Branches are a likely place for “do it yourself” IT and now, with the public cloud so easy to access, IT must ensure security is extensible to and from public clouds—and across them. That means IT policies should govern centrally, yet universally, and automation that ensures branches get the speed, scale and policy enforcement they need.
- Internet of Things
- IT is still learning how to fully incorporate mobile devices and BYOD into the enterprise; now that IoT devices are coming online and creating new threat vectors, it’s critical that endpoint security be mainstreamed as a top business initiative.
- Consistent policies and governance are key to ensuring that user profiles, permissions and access properly secure users as they move across devices. With IoT, this expanding device universe enlarges our definition of “end user” to include “things” acting in our ecosystem.
- IT Cost Containment
- The age-old mandate for IT—to manage and even reduce costs yet meet accelerating needs for speed, scale and application diversity—hasn’t gone away. Today’s next-generation security platforms make it possible to secure the enterprise and make IT more efficient and cost-effective. Those two actions are not mutually exclusive if the right priorities drive your initiatives.
All executives and boards should be having the following conversations with their technical teams about branch office security:
- Have we estimated the cost of a breach before it happens?
- Prevention costs far less than mitigation. Understand that even a fairly aggressive estimate of mediation cannot account for the true, long-term impact to your brand and on customer relationships.
- Have we insisted on a security solution that is actionable for all stakeholder teams?
- Make sure your security solution not only notifies you of threats, but also reports back when the threat has been eliminated.
- Are we the most efficient we can be when it comes to IT?
- Cybersecurity can improve efficiencies, resulting in greater network bandwidth; security and reducing overhead are not mutually exclusive. Network bandwidth is a key issue for branch offices.
- How is our security solution delivering ROI and how can we measure it?
- With a centralized platform, you can efficiently distribute the same security to all branches with one interface; a singular point of access reduces costs by avoiding the overhead of different security devices.
- Are we secure on a per-file basis?
- Aim for security per file for all users independent of branch or country. Secure and deliver “one desktop” so user’s permissions, access, profile and desktop all move with them across devices throughout the day.
Central policies are critical to ensure effective security in an “any cloud” world. Central policies and a unified view of a multi-cloud enterprise drive cost containment as well as security. A centralized, flexible platform ensures consistent security levels to branches and endpoints.
Finally, you can stay more secure by delivering a great user experience. The IT organization that prioritizes the user experience for remote offices helps eliminate “shadow IT” before it happens. A comprehensive solution that provides access to the user’s desktop from any device can turn these branch citizens into your best champions.