With many of us working from home over the past few months, there is now talk of a phased return to the office as lockdown eases further. But will there ever be a full workforce permanently in the office from 9 am to 5 pm again? Some staff may never want to go back to the office full time unless it is for important meetings.

So, the future may be a blend of some office requirements and some home working.  If this is the case, and it does look likely, then now is a good time to review your IT infrastructure and prepare.

Below we outline some options for businesses to ‘flex’ their IT infrastructure to accommodate a more flexible working pattern.

On-Premise

Traditionally all servers and data are located permanently on-site, usually in an office, and the company owns these IT systems. It was more than likely that if a business purely operated with on-premise IT systems before lockdown, it would’ve been difficult to adapt to remote working. There is a perception amongst businesses that on-premise servers are more secure than the cloud because you own them and they are physically present in your business. But that’s not always true. Cloud-based services are just as secure.

Data Centre Co-Location

Servers that would usually be on-premise are now often housed at a managed Data Centre run by a third party that looks after the physical environment and provides the connectivity and power. The business still owns the servers, but at an alternative location, so there is no need for an office location with a dedicated server room, The responsibility of managing the security, network, power, and air conditioning is removed from the business.

The Cloud

Cloud-based systems can be the most flexible and are great for remote working. Applications, file storage, and services are all in the Cloud with a provider such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. There are no on-site or physical servers; instead, the business rents the services, compute time, and storage resources from the Cloud provider. With Cloud services you only pay for what you use too so overall cost can be reduced while being able to scale up or down to meet changes in demand.

All the user has to do is log in to access applications and services to be able to work from anywhere.

Hybrid-Cloud

Depending on how a business uses technology, often a mix of the above is the best solution. Called Hybrid-Cloud, this type of solution can provide the best of both on-premise and Cloud while still being able to flex to allow for easier remote working.

As we move into a new way of working, now would be a good time to review your IT infrastructure so your business is in the best position to adapt. Migrating a whole business’s infrastructure to the cloud is usually a complex and massive job, so a lift-and-shift to Co-Location could be quicker but does not offer as much flexibility as the Cloud in most cases. It all comes down to how much your business relies on technology. It would be advisable to get your IT consultants to carry out a ‘discovery’ project to see what solutions would be right for you and provide the right support so your employees can work where they need to.

Greystone: Making sense of IT and software solutions