The Closed Beta Project

Lessons to learn from an IT company for working remotely

April 07, 2020 Lockstep Technology Group Season 2 Episode 3
The Closed Beta Project
Lessons to learn from an IT company for working remotely
Chapters
The Closed Beta Project
Lessons to learn from an IT company for working remotely
Apr 07, 2020 Season 2 Episode 3
Lockstep Technology Group

I've always had this question about our IT infrastructure: what steps did we take to make sure that we can be able to work securely from virtually anywhere? 

Well, in today's episode, Scott Anctil answers that question for us. Scott is our CTO at the Lockstep Technology Group. 

  • Enabling and optimizing remote workforce remotely
  • Importance of hybrid cloud infrastructure
  • best ways to communicate with your IT department
  • How to build ideal disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
  • and more!


Hope you're staying safe and healthy!

visit us at https://lockstepgroup.com/



Show Notes Transcript

I've always had this question about our IT infrastructure: what steps did we take to make sure that we can be able to work securely from virtually anywhere? 

Well, in today's episode, Scott Anctil answers that question for us. Scott is our CTO at the Lockstep Technology Group. 

  • Enabling and optimizing remote workforce remotely
  • Importance of hybrid cloud infrastructure
  • best ways to communicate with your IT department
  • How to build ideal disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
  • and more!


Hope you're staying safe and healthy!

visit us at https://lockstepgroup.com/



spk_1:   0:00
everyone. Um Haberman is Ali. I'm recording this from home. Hope you join this from the safety and comfort of your home as well. I just want to quickly tell you that we have a backlog of podcast every quarter earlier, before the cove in 19 crisis. But we will also have new content coming up that addresses the cry in pain points that all of us are going through. But I want to hear from you guys. Um what do you guys want us to cover? What pain points are you going through? What? What do you need? The recon share. For example, if you have any suggestions as far as the guests, um, that well, you like to see on the show? Uh, email me at Ali at lockstep group dot com. That's a l I at lock step group dot com limiting your thoughts, your feedback. And also I want to hear from you. Um, if you're a business owner a c i o. Director of I t c. So, engineer, how are you dealing with the current situation? What have you learned so far? I wantto created episode that bring you in as our guest and talk about your pain points. Your lesson was learned that we can share with the rest of community. Hope you enjoyed this episode. This episode um I talked to Scott, our cto Scott, and still about, um, what it took for us to become so nimble and build a foundation to be able to work from home so quickly and efficiently. But also, I pick his brain. About what tips and tricks does he have to stay, focus and be productive? Well, working from home hope you're staying safe and healthy and have a great day from locks of technology group Emilia de have This is a closed beta project. The show where we talk to you I t cybersecurity experts, pioneers and influencers about how we can live and grow conditional age. Oh, yeah. Personal. Thank you for joining me under your busy, super busy and, uh, this time around. So I ask you this question because it's kind of like has been back in my mind a lot. And I know a lot of companies are asking themselves right now is how do future proof from civil rights, if you to elaborate, enable themselves to have a remote workforce set up the infrastructure, you know, have laptops and all that stuff. Like, don't seem very, like superficial. Just having a laptop. People don't move around for Like what? What did we do? We've didn't doing this for years. I've been doing this for a long time. Um, being able to work remotely, um, you know, being secure, obviously, and serving our clients what steps to be take originally to build a foundation to make it such easy for us to just work remotely, like, easy.

spk_0:   3:02
Yeah, something from the beginning. We know we built the company from the ground up as a remote workforce. Even though we had a novice location, we knew that almost all of our work was gonna be done with customers infrastructure, not our own. So we built our infrastructure just how we would recommend ah, customer building it by making sure that we have remote access to everything that we need. All of our Internet users already at laptops. So for us to make the shift from a new internal workforce so remote workforce was pretty straightforward for us.

spk_1:   3:35
Um good. No, don't follow. What can you go into specifics? Like what It took you guys had to mind set on ready, but like, what infrastructure did you make to make sure one or secure moving forward? Whatever. But maybe. And, uh, far files air security accessible from anywhere everywhere. But whether it's steps to be taken to make sure that we can actually do this and just to kind

spk_0:   4:02
of give you an example, I'll kind of go what through what a lot of our clients are going through right now and what we've helped him with. Most of our clients have ah well established infrastructure already, and it's in either their main offices or in a data center or actually meant cloud. And to some degree, they all have a remote workforce that always salespeople are there. Some, you know, some portion of the staff that already has a way of accessing things remotely. Whether that is a virtual desktop or it's just VPN access, auras, published applications and published service is that available on the Internet without having to, uh, you know, connected into the infrastructure itself. Um, what we saw clients having a problem with was capacity was they have this great infrastructure where majority of their work versus local, and all of that work force is now part of the remote workforce. And we're seeing everything from, you know, band with issues on those incoming connections. License issues where road oh uses are only licensed for a certain number of users on those air having to rapidly expand. So for us, because we were already in the position of designing it with remote and all of our users internally, Even when we were at the office, we weren't in a remote capacity. So our systems were designed even when we were in the office were really just remove users, all sitting in the same place. So from the ground up, ours is billed as a remote, uh, environment. And for the most part, all of our clients have the functionality to it already set up with that, it was really just the capacity issues that people were running into. We address those a couple different ways, obviously band with this one thing. So we have customers that have bandwidth limitations set on their connections, but the connections could be faster. We're letting you know, talking with the I S. P s of the providers to say, Hey, can you crank up our van with or allow over just and it's a really quick change to make, and it releases some of those concerns. The other is that we've gone in and kind of optimized their user experience. So we may lower the quality on a session to forget more band with, um and um also increased filtering for traffic back and forth. So making sure users aren't connected into the work environment and also streaming Netflix. You know, we keep that traffic off a connection so that it's not I'm choking their of their Internet usage. Um, the other that we see isn't really a, um, issue. We've seen with any more flights so far, but one of the big concerns is security. So yes, we have. So for the customers that have established remote environments, they're pretty secure in their pretty locked down and, you know, because they there's an existing infrastructure that's been there. One of the concerns is that for customers that do not have that and have said, Oh, we need to open this up for more users or potentially, their old policy was on Lee Computer, a laptop computers owned by the company are allowed to connect to those service's those Those restrictions may have been relaxed and said, OK, now any computer can connect so that people can use their home computers because they don't have ah laptop. The work on its company owned, um the other is opening up. New service is saying, Hey, let's just open already P to the Internet like people already peon. And I know security, For the most part, on most of our clients, minds is not the highest priority. It's getting people back to work. But, you know, everyone needs to be aware that the rate of attacks and, um you know, compromises they're going eyes also increasing, taking advantage of the fact that people are doing this. Um, so if you open up new service is that we're working with our clients and making sure that if we open to things that that is also secure at the same time, um, kind of hand in hand with security One of the other request that we've seen that's coming in is the monitoring of employee behavior. So basically making sure people are actually working remote, we've, you know, deploys and things for them that allow us to use analytics and say, OK, this user was logged in for this much time. This is how much they did. So it's It's not a, um, to the level of spying on employees, but it really just shows that they were connected in that they were working accountability. What's that? Accountability right has an accountability for it. So we generate reports for him and let them monitor all their activity. Um, the other is also identifying where these connections air coming from. So obviously, you're gonna have a lot more remote sessions coming in, and you want to, um, allow users to command and work from where their home is, But a lot of these people have never connected before. So when you start looking at your traffic logs and your rules that you may have allowed for certain people are certain areas to connect, you really gotta watch where these connections are coming from. And you know, if you're a Georgia based company and your employees were in Georgia and all of a sudden you have remote users, they're coming in from all over the country are out of the country, then that's you know that's a concern to look at and make sure that those are actually where those users air coming from. They're not account that have gotten compromised.

spk_1:   8:57
Um, so what tips do you have? As far as the security you mentioned? A lot of people don't. That's not a primary objective for them at this moment, which is kind of scary, given the matter. Rates of separate Tax Brian Lee What tips do you have for the companies such as ice or any big response that trying to shift our work for us to promote, to consider that, you know, kind of like collaboration with enabling and optimizing their workforce?

spk_0:   9:24
The biggest thing is, is just to keep security in mind. You know when you're making changes in the environment, if you're going to open up something, if you already have established security tools in place after you opened up something new, or you make a change to a policy, run that scan again and just double check and make sure that nothing has changed or that there's not a new, uh, extremely, extremely vulnerable exploit out there that's you've now exposed. So it's really just keeping security in the back. Your mind even though it's not a hot the highest priority for everyone. Is that it? To keep that in mind when making changes that yes, you may need to get this done right now. Uh, but what can you do to do it quickly, but also the most secure way possible? You know, we've helped our clients through then like that we've had to where? Where we had to work with increased capacity and some with, you know, increased functionality. Um, the only other issue with they were really seeing out there, as far as our clients are concerned, is the internal capacity. So they have a server infrastructure. But if they have a remote workforce that comes in and works off, a specific servers were seeing where those servers are no longer able to handle the amount of users that are coming in. What we've done for them is if they have the internal resources available. Obviously we will spend up more servers to deserve that demand. Thea other is we've talked to a few where we have spun off additional resource is inside of there be our environments that one of our customers have a d r of environment ready to go. And instead of failing over to D r or considering it a d. R there's resource is that we're sitting on that other side that are not in use, So we were able to spend up additional work, you know, Um uh huh. Power over there by using some of that equipment to join their existing production environment and provide the resources they need for the distant, remote user workload. Um, the last one we did was also with azure. So we split up some additional workloads inside of Azure and connected that environment to fairs and made it a overflow functionality from their internal infrastructure. So when they start reading capacity issues, they just are rolling over to that as your environment and continue to work with the increased load.

spk_1:   11:32
The mission as your home port is cloud. When you're trying to move your workforce to remote when just having access to different files, Is this something that people need to consider now moving forward? Or is that something like a hybrid cloud? I think yeah. And then you have on premises Prem versus you know, one club.

spk_0:   11:53
So the biggest benefit with the with the customers have their infrastructures in Azure. Is that one of the choke point for seeing is that local I SP Is that all you're uses a remote now and everyone's coming into your eyes Speak, connection. Well, even for the customers that have enough band with are seeing that there are eyes p issues with contention on the UN bandwith and they're not getting the service they expect. And once you are getting limited by the I S P short of putting in a secondary connection or something, that's gonna take a long time to get installed, you know, you're restricted to whatever performance issues the I S P is having. If you've got your environment in a cloud environment, you know, as your Amazon any of those, then obviously the demand is not on your infrastructure at the data center. And you can, um, you know, they're Bayliss. It doesn't seem to have been impacted by any of this yet. Thea Other issue we're seeing is it relates to cloud is that a lot of people's home Internets are being stressed. So we're getting lots of reports of Hey, I'm having issues with clients connecting because we've got the right monitoring and analytics in place. We were able to see it and say, Well, the issues not on your end Unfortunates on their end either There's a issue with the I S P itself on not getting enough band with or is the fact that people are working from home and you know, the kids are watching Netflix

spk_1:   13:13
and, like you mentioned a lot of problems something for our clients. And the question I have is how What is the best way to connect with your I D department when you're and user? Everyone's having trouble right now, obviously, but tips do you have

spk_0:   13:29
when you can't communicate with them. The biggest thing is that we'd recommend for anybody who has an established I T department to send out some making communications to all of the employees with specific information on If you're having this kind of problem or if you're headed, these kind of resource is, here's who to contact and how to escalate. I know what I T departments are overburdened right now, especially with you're looking a lot of these issues and trying to resolve them. Um, so just clear communication in making sure that everybody knows that there's, ah, phone number and email address, whatever it is that they need to do so that there's a clear path to follow and that they can get the help they need.

spk_1:   14:07
You mentioned about being overloaded, the staff gaiety departments. Uh, what list is gonna be learned from the situation that we're in right now that a lot of people are like moving away from their offices and a lot of and this is the structures being or responsibly been called upon the IittIe staff of I T departments on most of the time, As you and I know they're understaffed as it is. What message do you have? What lessons I've Lesson learned can share to the CFO's

spk_0:   14:37
or leaders that are building two teams around them? Week forward? One of the biggest lesson learned. This one isn't in particular to I t staffing, but the biggest lesson learned is that when doing it is after you every planning a business continuity plan. A lot of people have plans that are out there that don't have an established process. For an event like this, there is no do you know the disaster is not that your data center is down or that building's been destroyed. Or that, um, you know, there's a you know, the normal 123 class disasters. It's everybody has to work for a vote now, and nobody could go outside. A majority of the business plans has got new plans and the our plans don't account for this is how do we do this? How do we switch over to a remote workforce overnight on and the biggest concern there is they work this into your plans in the future and also have that. You know, you don't always have to have the past of the available If you wouldn't wanna have, um, make the investment into a infrastructure the two to be unused most the time. But understand the plan and make sure you know how to switch those resource is and make them available as soon as possible. On that you have a secure, well functioning remote capacity. Already, you already have a way to do it again. Most of the clients have it because they have a small word for us. It's make sure that that that that functionality can be ramped up to handle your entire workforce becoming remote.

spk_1:   16:00
So you talked about in hand scene and expanding the digital resources. But I can cos enhance or expander. Um, I t staffing, you know, yeah, department itself when

spk_0:   16:15
it comes to staffing. So we're seeing you know, it's unfortunate to two fold is that there's more concern and more issues come again for I t to handle. And at the same time subcommittee's they're having to make cuts in i t. Which makes the order already overburdened. I t staff even more of a verdict for situations like that, you can either come to a company like us where we can help all of our existing clients. We have had additional help be requested, and we've wrapped up our services to them to help him out with issues they're having and addressing some of this, Um or if you know, you're not a current client of ours, you reach out to whoever it is. You're right provider, whether it's a man of service or, you know, just a nightie shop and see if you can get some additional help. Um, the other is really focusing on what the core concerns are, so you may have to tell people you know, when it comes to the I t work that's coming in. If people are in there requesting things, all of that work has two extremely be prioritized out we don't get. There were people that can't connecting it in. Then they were going to be a higher priority. If people are coming in saying, Hey, I need to change made or something like that, something they could live without that's really gonna be prioritized, that you can keep the workforce working Well, you know, still taking care of those concerns, but they've gotta fall to a lower priority. So, um, maybe up, up, up to upper management. So the c e o c I ose to all understand that they may indeed they're backing in order to say we have to communicate to the employees that these things aren't a priority right now so that you're gonna have to wait longer. Um, they really need executive sponsorship for these enforcements of what really is the priority and what needs to be taken care of.

spk_1:   17:53
Awesome. Do me free or useful resource leaking share with your colleagues and other I T departments that are struggling right now that they can only benefit from some resources.

spk_0:   18:09
There's, um, not specifically. There's a lot of tools out there, and it's all depending on. You know what the particular need is? There is only, you know, there are monitoring tools that are out there that you can get for free that will only monitor, you know certain, you know, Ah, free amount of devices that you could use. There are, uh, you know, a lot of diagnostic tools that are out very, really goes back to, um you know what? The issue is in different environments. So even with a remote enabled workforce client, we've got something you Citrix. We have some that used, you know, Artie s service is we've got something. Use the M where? So it all depends on what system they're using. Um, one of things that we could help with is that if they are having issues, you know, we've had some clients that said, Hey, we're having a Internet bandwidth issue and we came into their system and looked at it and said, Well, it appears that way, but you're not You're having a storage io problem. So, you know, working with us, we can help you, you know, figure out really what it is. You don't want to go through that process. Assume you have a band with problem and, um, you know, started troubleshooting that and getting more band talking to the ice B. And when you get that adjusted, you know you've made the progress of the issue hasn't gone away. So, you know, making sure that we really know what the root cause of the problems of any issues are before trying to make any adjustments to the

spk_1:   19:27
environment. So I have one more question for you. Farther you go as I think it made this company for you. Look, your office looks like a spaceship. Or like your command center. What tips do you have? Your kind of like a seasoned work from home person that, you know Grover come from. But, like, what tips do you have for people that are actually starting to work from home to stay productive and focused and delivered that you don't high

spk_0:   19:49
quality products were service is polite to crime. One of the biggest things I've always said and this was, was even before we were all forced to work from home, was The one of the downsides of the bad things about working from home is that you can't go home. You're there already. So having ah, you get a good work space to work in, try to keep it isolated. If you've got a room that you can close off, you know, animals, kids, other noises, whatever. Make that your work area. Get up in the morning, take your shower. You know, broads and clothes may not be, you know, work clothes, but him. Get dressed. Go into that office and do your work. Take a lunch break, walk out of your office, go get lunch from downstairs or, you know, whatever you need to do on. But at the end of the day, you walk away. You know, at the end of the day, you know, shut your machine down or even Lou, you know, believe that office and make a mental break from being at work. A lot of people are, you know, they're getting up, they start working, and it just kind of the whole day bleeds together. And at the end of the day, you're you know, you haven't done anything. You've been sitting in the same General Dae, um, it stresses out the rest of the family as well as employees. So, um, that's one of the biggest ones. The other is make your environment comfortable. You know, if you're you know, if you've got to make you move furniture around, you know, whatever you need to do that said to make your work environment more comfortable, Uh, the biggest is just remember that you're you're technically at work and, uh, make that the delineation between work and work at home time people make that people make the joke that you said on the left side of the California at work and you go home, you move to the right side of the caliph stuff. Try to give a bigger delineation of that like that. That is where you can use that separate workspace. And don't be in that space If you're not working, you know, don't watch TV in that room If you, uh, are off the clock, are taking a break ins. Make that make

spk_1:   21:38
that separation. Well, thank you so much, Scott. Your problem. Get back 30 minutes to your day. All right. Good luck. Oh, great. Friday. Thanks. You do. Thank you. for listening Close. Better project Hope you've enjoyed this episode. If you did, please review like and share with your friends and colleagues. Closed Beta project is produced and hosted by me. If you've any questions, please visit our website at lock step group dot com until the next episode of Israeli.