Sign in to search Gartner Research
Organizations Should Rethink Work-at-Home Strategies for Pandemic Preparedness
The upcoming flu season highlights the need for organizations to have pandemic plans in place, but work-at-home (WAH) strategies may be in jeopardy as residential Internet bandwidth supply may not meet demand, according to Gartner, Inc.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the rule of thumb for pandemic planning is that 40 percent of the workforce will not be in the workplace for an extended period of time. “All of the telecommunications carriers say their wide area networks (WANs) can handle the added capacity of a 40 percent increase. That’s fine for their backbone network, but the problem lies in what is referred to as the “edge” or “last mile” in the residential Internet access loop,” said Eric Paulak, managing vice president at Gartner. “Within the switching office, surges in demand will overload the local connection to the backbone networks, because carriers typically do not design for excess residential capacity.”
WAH Internet usage for commercial purposes typically takes place in the daytime, when consumer traffic is at a lull. The problem arises during an emergency, such as a pandemic, because consumer Internet usage will be happening at the same time as WAH usage, mainly because children will be home from school (who drive the bandwidth ratios today) and, therefore, using the Internet as they would during the evening.
DSL users are vulnerable to oversubscription, a condition in which potentially dozens of users share a single digital subscriber access multiplexer (DSLAM) connection to the backbone. This is not easy to remedy during an unexpected surge in last-mile demand.
“The bottom line is that the last-mile DSL and cable modem networks are where remote access falls apart. Backbones will be affected, but the network edge will crash. The carriers are encouraging organizations to use third-generation (3G) or other nontethered access as a backup/emergency solution to defend against these last-mile failures. However, this solution could lead to wireless system overload, so the problem is not solved, it is merely moved,” said John Girard, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Therefore, enterprises need to consider all three Internet access solutions when trying to work out what performs best in a given emergency situation.”
Gartner suggests three possible alternatives to improve Internet bandwidth for WAH strategies:
“The impact is that all the WAH strategies being implemented by organizations will likely not work,” said Roberta Witty, research vice president at Gartner. “Therefore organizations need to set up a variety of strategies for WAH including pandemic and WAH impact planning in all negotiations with network service providers, deciding in advance which business operations require heavy Internet usage and possibly staggering hours of operation to increase the chance of getting the needed bandwidth.”
Additional information is available in the Gartner report “Rethink Work-at-Home Strategies for Pandemic Preparedness: Internet Bandwidth Supply Won’t Meet Demand.” The report is available at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=1189317&subref=simplesearch.
Gartner has created a Special Coverage section on gartner.com “The Pandemic Threat” where comprehensive research related to pandemic planning can be found. Gartner analysts will provide regular updates regarding actions enterprises should take as the situation evolves. The Special Coverage section can be found at http://www.gartner.com/it/products/research/coverage/pandemic09.jsp. Gartner analysts are also providing updates on the Gartner Business Continuity blog at http://blogs.gartner.com/business-continuity/.
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner in over 13,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 5,500 associates, including 1,400 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.