Want to regain control of your remote workers? You’re not alone.
Historically, remote workers have created headaches for IT admins. From the lack of ability to support them to the security risks involved, the remote worker problem has been a dirty little secret in IT.
Solutions have abounded with VPNs, expensive remote management tools, and vast amounts of manual intervention. Unfortunately, those haven’t really solved the problem. But there’s good news: A massive shift in the IT landscape and new cloud identity management platforms have IT organizations regaining control over their remote workers.
Remote Worker Management: The Old Way
Traditionally, remote workers — often sales personnel and even employees in remote offices — were connected back to the organization’s headquarters via a VPN. Users would have their machine sent out to them with all of the software configured. The machine, undoubtedly a Microsoft Windows device, would often require multiple logins for the user to even start connecting to the network and the applications they needed. If something went wrong, the user either had to be reasonably technical to understand how to fix the issue, or they would likely have to send the machine back to be repaired. In addition to this being a productivity sink for the end users, IT admins would often spend a great deal of their time supporting their remote workers.
The Evolution of the Remote Employee
As the IT landscape started to shift, so did the path of IT support for the remote worker. Cloud applications started to emerge. And for many remote workers, those web applications were the key to their workday. Google Apps gave them access to email and productivity applications. Salesforce was the tool of choice for salespeople, and because it was delivered over the web, there was no need to connect back to the mothership.
Over time, many remote workers no longer needed to connect to the network at headquarters. Even still, IT admins continued to make that happen because they wanted the ability to control that user’s device via Microsoft Active Directory (AD). If the user was managed by AD, the IT admin could implement critical security mechanisms.
One other major change started to make this process even more difficult. Many remote workers started to opt for non-Windows devices, specifically Macs. As companies moved to BYOD, there was little that IT could do to stop the trend away from Windows. Of course, that added more complication for the management of remote workers. The confluence of IT changes rendered the existing path of managing remote workers useless.
Remote Worker Management: The New Way
As with most other pieces of the IT landscape, great problems beget unique solutions. With the gig economy in full swing, IT admins couldn’t sit around and ignore the problem. Simultaneously, innovative IDaaS providers created the category of cloud identity management. By shifting the core directory service to the cloud, IT admins could easily connect and manage remote workers without VPNs.
In fact, the end user’s device didn’t need to connect to the on-prem network at all. It simply securely connected to the cloud-based directory service and from that point the user’s device could be managed and secured. Users could easily be granted access to the IT resources they needed, including web applications and cloud infrastructure. IT could manage the user logins to their machine — whether Mac, Linux, or Windows. Even multi-factor authentication (MFA) could be added. With a cloud-hosted directory, IT admins could make remote workers look like they were on-prem without the hassle of their remote status. That was the innovation that IT needed to successfully manage remote workers.
Regain Full Control of Remote Workers
For more details, check out our IT guide to managing remote works, which answers common questions, lists best practices, and highlights resources that might be helpful.
Otherwise, drop us a note — we’d be happy to discuss how we tackle the remote worker challenge and share knowledge together.