The COVID-19 situation has effectively led organizations across the world to adopt the remote working culture. In order to ensure employee productivity, companies will have to democratize their IT infrastructure. In an interview with DataQuest, Neelesh Kripalani, senior VP and head – Center of Excellence – Clover Infotech, discusses the benefits of IT democratization, and how it impacts the cybersecurity landscape.
DQ: Explain the rising trend of democratization of IT.
Neelesh: As the world is compelled to shift towards remote working, the pressure on IT infrastructure is mounting. Organizations are left with no choice but to create a safe and secure digital infrastructure. This makes democratization of IT a necessity.
Organizations need to decentralize the IT infrastructure and make access to their systems and data ubiquitous so that their employees can seamlessly carry out their tasks while working remotely.
DQ: How is the democratization of IT supporting employees to work remotely?
Neelesh: Democratization of IT essentially means decentralization of IT systems and technologies so that it is easily accessible to all employees at all levels. This helps in creation of virtual workplaces where employees can effortlessly collaborate in real-time with other team members or customers irrespective of their location without compromising on Cybersecurity best practices. It enables employees to access data and files on company servers through secure login to ensure smooth functioning of business operations.
DQ: What are the key factors leading the shift towards democratization of IT?
Neelesh: Enterprise applications are no longer limited to desktops or on-premise environments. We have been witnessing a steady surge in applications and technology moving to the cloud. Hence, enterprise IT must operate securely much beyond the organization’s perimeter. Enterprises operate 24*7 today hence ubiquitous access and collaboration must happen round the clock all throughout the year. This necessitated the democratization of IT.
Further, with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we have been forced to rethink and adopt a new normal wherein almost every employee is working from home. It has accelerated the democratization of IT not only across the large and established enterprises but also the small and medium businesses.
DQ: How does the democratization of IT impact enterprise IT security? How will it change the overall cybersecurity landscape?
Neelesh: IT democratization creates both opportunities and challenges. While it empowers businesses to establish a seamless remote working culture, drive innovation and ease the pressure on IT infrastructure, it also raises cybersecurity threats. As employees are accessing enterprise devices, systems and networks remotely, it allows hackers to explore security loopholes in the infrastructure. This calls for establishing robust cybersecurity policies and practices.
Companies need to educate their employees about the best Cybersecurity practices. They may consider introducing short courses in Cybersecurity. They need to enable employees with secure corporate network and Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs can be used to securely connect remote workers to a dedicated secure server where they can access sensitive files without needing to copy them to their own devices, providing an added layer for mitigating the potential for data breaches.
DQ: How will the role of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) evolve to adapt to the new normal with most employees working from home?
Neelesh: The best part about Managed Services Providers (MSPs) is that they work with pre-defined SLAs. Hence, most of the employees who perform the functions of the MSPs are clearly aware of their roles, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) are defined for them. Hence, it will continue smoothly if the client allows the MSP to operate remotely.
The most important aspect to ensure with this new normal would be “Cybersecurity” and “Intelligent Automation”. With multiple devices and multiple internet services connecting to the enterprise systems and data, MSPs must ensure the highest levels of security, and strict access controls for applications as well as the underlying IT infrastructure. They must also deploy intelligent automation so that rule-based and redundant tasks can happen with minimum human supervision. Cloud-native applications and technologies will witness a significant rise in this new normal across industries unless regulatory mandates prevent it from moving to the cloud. Hence, MSPs should train or re-skill their employees to become well-versed with such technologies.
DQ: What are the transformations that democratization of IT would bring about, from an enterprise perspective?
Neelesh: It will democratize innovation – Democratization of IT will make technology easily accessible by the emergence of low-code platforms, mass adoption of cloud, and easy availability of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) packages. This will empower employees at all levels to perform their tasks in the best possible manner saving time and resources.
It will enhance investment in automation and other emerging technologies – Democratization of IT will enable enterprises to integrate emerging technologies in their current IT landscape to drive cost-efficiency.
Rapid cloud adoption – cloud plays a major role in democratizing IT across the organization. As business-critical workloads on the cloud can be easily accessed and managed, this gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime. The democratization of IT and cloud adoption allows organizations to reap the benefits of increased speed, efficiency and agility.