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How businesses can shed IT infrastructure

Imagine if we could truly work from anywhere in a fully secure, flexible way. By combining cloud and mobile technologies, businesses can go ‘infrastructure light’ and make this a reality.

How businesses can shed IT infrastructure

Everything about how and where people work has been revolutionized – but many businesses haven’t changed their IT infrastructure at all. With rising costs affecting organizations of all sizes, something has got to give to make way for new, innovative models that will change everything. Dropping cumbersome legacy IT infrastructure may sound far-fetched, but with the right tools and models, going ‘infrastructure light’ will soon become the new normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic put IT infrastructure in the spotlight as millions had to work from home without warning, the effects of which we’ll continue to see, as 63 percent of employers say they plan to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working.

Business

Businesses pay for onsite connectivity despite a drop in the number of employees there in person. This has both high cost and maintenance needs. As more people connect from home, IT departments also lose employee visibility – they’re no longer able to easily see how people are connecting and the security of that connection, what their real-time quality of experience is, and whether employees have enough data.

IT asset managers estimate that one-third or more of their IT budget is currently being wasted. Legacy, misunderstood, and underutilized IT infrastructure have become the bane of transformation for every organization.

Employee

From an employee perspective, the remote experience is not as seamless as working from the office. At home, employees compete with other users for Wi-Fi while navigating a complex VPN setup and suffering with unreliable broadband connections – 53 percent of users in the UK experience broadband connection issues and in rural areas of Europe, only 37 percent of the population have high-speed broadband. Perhaps most crucially, security is not always guaranteed. Plus, tethering your laptop to your phone on the go can drain mobile battery life and use substantial amounts of data.

For more than a decade, businesses have been on a cloud journey, going from being fully on-premises, to their data, workloads and applications becoming cloud-based services, which offers the flexibility of being ‘pay as you go and grow.’ Now, a similar journey is on the horizon for enterprise network connectivity.

An ‘infrastructure light’ model is supported by both cloud and 5G, flexing to an organization’s needs. This means there is no expensive on-premises infrastructure to maintain, nor any access point sitting idle on site if it isn’t needed.

Combining cloud and 5G brings increased productivity for employees and efficiency gains, together with enhanced security and control for enterprise IT. Instead of a rigid, on-premises IT infrastructure based on capex, this model offers greater flexibility, scaling with communications service provider networks worldwide, and allowing businesses to offload their infrastructure to a service provider’s network and go infrastructure light.

How can businesses go lighter today?

From connecting employees on the go and around the world to managing multiple sites, the beauty of using mobile networks is how efficient, cost effective and secure they are. Now, IT departments only need to focus on endpoint connectivity. Laptops with built-in 5G will offer a greater and more consistent user experience for employees. This new way of managing connectivity will simplify the transition of enterprise IT infrastructure to the cloud, with 5G as the primary access. This ensures secure, reliable and flexible solutions for both enterprises and employees.

“Going ‘infrastructure light’ requires a spectrum of solutions and it represents a journey for businesses.“

– Donna Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer, Cradlepoint

Donna Johnson speaks about infrastructure

For mission-critical communications like emergency services, organizations use a nationwide mobile network that is totally separate from the public one. For industrial-level needs, like at a port or factory, businesses set up their very own on-premises private 5G network . But how can small- and medium-sized businesses become more agile with mobile networks, utilizing the flexibility of solutions that are quick to set up, reliable and secure?

These kinds of organizations face ever-changing scenarios, from retail pop-up stores which depend on temporary but robust connectivity for point-of-sale systems, to flexible office locations that need to be set up rapidly.

Where traditional wired broadband frequently falls short and can take weeks to set up, cloud-managed 4G and 5G routers and adapters provide a Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN), making businesses far more flexible and ready to operate almost instantly. Kiosks, cameras, digital signs – enterprises can connect all their devices as quickly as their locations and people.

Further into the cloud

To go even ‘lighter’, businesses must look to the cloud. Entire suites and tools that businesses choose from are ‘cloudified’ today. Developers can easily onboard the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools most relevant to their business needs, which can be done by partnering with specialists like Vonage, a part of Ericsson. Without having to independently develop and maintain these tools, the commitment and the investment are then minimized, lightening the load for a business.

Synchronizing with the cloud goes further than business optimization, Donna Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer for Cradlepoint, a part of Ericsson, explains:

“You can’t put up a firewall, a network, and a server each time you connect somewhere new. The idea of infrastructure light is that you carry all these crucial elements with you, they’re just not physically manifesting in physical space each time. The infrastructure moves to the cloud and the carrier, and wherever you go, however you connect, you have a consistent experience.”

Almost 9 in 10 decision makers expect their companies to have outsourced their company IT solutions in the future.

- IndustryLab report, Ericsson

What do future businesses look like?

If your phone can instantly connect to available mobile networks on the go, then why shouldn’t your other devices? What could be possible if any device instantly connected to private, secure and reliable networks, anywhere in the world? 

By combining cloud services with mobile networks, all of this could become possible with an Ericsson offering called the Enterprise Virtual Cellular Network or EVCN. It does this as easily as phones currently detect and connect to roaming networks when you travel – but you don’t need to use best-effort roaming networks, as you’re connected to a private ‘slice’ of a 5G network. 5G laptop set-up is seamless for the user, where EVCN offers zero-touch provisioning and activation of connectivity and end-to-end security on all employees’ devices which allows real-time visibility, management, and control of data usage for the IT department. This platform powers a truly hybrid working environment, greater flexibility, and a secure connection wherever you are.

EVCN has already been trialled successfully across three continents with SoftBank Corp (Japan), T-Mobile (USA), Telia (Sweden), Ericsson, Microsoft, and Thales. The trial showcased seamless global connectivity for traveling workers between the three continents, with automated switching between public and private 5G networks utilizing always-on security, enforced everywhere the worker went.

What do future businesses look like?

“Enterprises need a simplified and secure way to connect people and devices to their private networks. By connecting eSIM-enabled laptops to 5G networks in a smooth and secure manner, within just a few clicks, enterprises are connected.“

– Eva Rudin, VP of Mobile Connectivity Solutions, Thales

Eva Rudin speaks about connectivity

Every country, every office, every employee, the same secure connectivity

Every country, every office, every employee, the same secure connectivity

With an infrastructure light model, businesses are in control of all of their devices, subscriptions via full eSIM remote management, security policies and more – all through a single portal. This means centralized visibility and a single bill to pay, instead of negotiating with hundreds of service providers. It also simplifies operations for service providers too. The true genius of the platform, however, comes through in how it utilizes the capabilities of 5G.

What role does 5G play?

5G is unique in that it’s programmable. A programmable network means that the service can adapt, but the user doesn’t need to do anything. If you travel abroad, or if you need a boost in capacity, for example, that can all be handled automatically or via a simple portal operated by your IT department. Using network APIs like quality-of-service, on-demand and verification of location, networks can be programmed to offer tailored connectivity services for different needs.

Diala Abi-Rached, Chief Operations Officer, Enterprise Virtual Cellular Network, Ericsson, explains:

“For organizations working on solutions such as AI, the increasing use of AI-driven workflows benefits from always-on, high-performing 5G connectivity. That’s another advantage of the Enterprise Virtual Cellular Network – efficiency is optimized to the maximum regardless of location, as you are always seamlessly connected to a local 5G network.”

Stretching your business

While many businesses have already migrated their data and software into the cloud, the on-premises connectivity remains as is. Not only are there financial benefits and opportunities to increase efficiency, but the flexibility of going infrastructure light will be the key to a more prosperous future for any business, allowing organizations to flex to new situations and explore new opportunities made possible by seamless connectivity.

 

Contributors

Martin Zander

Head of Strategic Initiatives & Ecosystems, Ericsson

Diala Abi-Rached

Chief Operating Officer, Enterprise Virtual Cellular Network, Ericsson

Donna Johnson

Chief Marketing Officer, Cradlepoint

Andrew Pratt

Co-Founder, Enterprise Virtual Cellular Network, Ericsson

With special thanks to:

Jay Jay Chin, Per Synnergen, Eva Rudin, James Weaver