Into the metaverse: a guide for your business

Lenovo

By Sumir Bhatia, President — AP, Lenovo ISG
Thursday, 04 August, 2022


Into the metaverse: a guide for your business

With two pandemic years behind us, the IT industry has already evolved to make virtualisation of everyday spaces par for the course. However, let’s not forget the learnings from the pandemic: having the right mindset and adapting to change. Rapid tech innovations and powerful concepts such as edge computing and IoT enabled platforms like the metaverse hold great transformative potential for our workplaces and are already becoming a reality.

Here’s a fact: as per a recent Lenovo hybrid work survey, 44% of employees are willing to work in the metaverse; however, 43% feel their employers do not have the knowledge or expertise to adopt the structure. This shows that the workforce is willing to explore new ways of working.

For all the benefits the metaverse offers, it also introduces some tough challenges for businesses: huge computing power, enhanced and integrated infrastructure, and flexible IT solutions. To have an effective infrastructure, organisations require a huge capital and operational expenditure burn, and updated security mandate.

A single move to futureproof your IT infrastructure

The business and IT landscape evolve constantly; IT infrastructure requirements change every 12 to 18 months and the metaverse is the newest disruption. Businesses that want to stay relevant and scale up successfully are realising the need to keep pace with these requirements.

Here’s a reminder for organisations trying to progress in their intelligent transformation journeys — we need to look at two different expenditure models.

Organisations operating on a capital expenditure (CapEx) heavy model — investment towards the physical assets that they set up and maintain — increasingly find challenges in scaling up without impacting top-line growth. This ultimately slows down business expansion and growth, whereas operational expenditure (OpEx) based, or as-a-service models, provide greater flexibility and reliability. Pay-as-you-go or consumption-based models offer the scalable and customisable products/solutions empowering business to achieve bigger milestones. Businesses have better control on usage and costs, and can manage their investments accurately.

Having said that, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Even OpEx models like High Performance Computing as-a-service (HPCaaS) can have its cons — the biggest challenge being excessive resource utilisation which we would call “capacity creep” which adds to OpEx. This means having the right tech partner that ensures right deployment, management and services is critical.

Deploying the right IT infrastructure — and how it supports a vibrant hybrid workplace

In August 2021, more than 40% of employed people in Australia were regularly working from home. With many organisations planning to mandate a remote or hybrid model, the workplace will need to prep for the long haul. OpEx models have the benefit of dynamism and cohesiveness, two qualities that support and prioritise employees as the workforce makes this shift.

A unified experience within a hybrid workplace requires an infrastructure that can seamlessly manage data, applications and workloads between connected computing environments. A truly hybrid workplace offers a greater range of options for accelerated workflows, increased collaboration and improved budget flexibility. Leaders can better allocate resources as well as information. We are already seeing a number of companies commit to the evolving workplace and developing their own metaverse to enable greater collaboration in the virtual environment.

The hybrid cloud also offers organisations enhanced data protection and security to de-risk businesses, helping to mitigate security-related challenges attributed to vulnerable activities, and preserve security and privacy.

Take the metaverse, for example: it relies on IT infrastructure along with external devices such as VR headsets to allow virtual access. While organisations continue to strengthen their end-point security, the challenge of securing IoT devices requires a security best practices overhaul. In the hybrid era, it is difficult to identify bad actors, and unprotected devices can compromise not just individual identity, but also lead to ransomware, business data breach, and in some cases physical threats.

Strengthening hybrid cloud security with a secured edge and Zero Trust strategy

As hybrid and remote work becomes the norm, cyberthreats such as ransomware are at an all-time high, costing Australian businesses and individuals an estimated $33 billion over 2021, with a 13% increase in reported attacks from 2020. Zero Trust architecture helps organisations ensure that their employees can access and retrieve resources while keeping cyber attacks at bay with continuous validation at every stage of digital interaction.

This also means securing your edge network — it is essential to recognise the level and potential of harnessing real-time AI insights to address business challenges and capture a competitive advantage. Solutions should offer essential cybersecurity capabilities, including key-encrypted storage, data confidentiality capabilities and adherence to regulatory, privacy and security requirements like GDPR, HIPAA and financial services by processing at the edge and not the cloud.

For properly implemented Zero Trust, organisations should consider prioritising four steps:

  • Persistent endpoint management for complete visibility into applications, data points and connections while retrieving data that helps both evaluate performance metrics and execute corporate policies across the company network.
  • Encrypted data to ensure critical information is encrypted and can only be accessed or decrypted by a user with the correct encryption key.
  • A Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) System essential for enhancing security, requiring the user to provide two or more verification factors to access a resource.
  • Secure Wi-Fi networks grant a business control over who can connect to the network and configure their network and equipment.
     

Every endpoint should be visible and accessible regardless of the location of operating devices — perfect for a hybrid setting. It should also encrypt all data from end-to-end, so sensitive data within an organisation can be safely shared regardless of where the data is stored: in a device’s hard drive or in the cloud.

Bringing a business into the metaverse requires careful consideration, evaluation and, most importantly, trusting the right tech partner offering reliable, scalable and flexible solutions.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/ipopba

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