A Different Approach to Solving Work From Home Connectivity and Security

Summary Bullets:

S. Schuchart

• The challenge is for IT to improve the experience for the work from home user

• Palo Alto Networks Okyo Garde addresses issues many enterprise work from home (WFH) solutions do not

The subject of WFH has had a lot of attention, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the issue for a lot of companies. Many companies have taken advantage of this and have moved their employees to permanent work from home status or only in the office a few select days of the week. The struggle since the beginning of the pandemic has been to support these home users. IT departments strived mightily and, in many cases, bootstrapped solutions that could at least get the home worker up and running. But now these same IT departments are taking a closer look at more effective and permanent solutions. Issues with home networks, particularly Wi-Fi, ergonomics, and even things as basic as monitors and chairs need to be addressed – they are all part of the WFH equation.

Vendors, for their part, have tried to ease the transition. SD-WAN clients or even SD-WAN micro appliances are available from a number of vendors to aid with connectivity, security, and quality of experience. There are at-home router setups that can provide company security and corporate Wi-Fi. But the issues of being too far from the access point, lack of employee knowledge about their own networks, and, of course, other home users persist.

However, this month we saw the announcement of a different approach to the problem from Palo Alto Networks (PAN). The company announced the Okyo Garde, a mesh-enabled Wi-Fi 6 router/AP for the home that features PAN security via the cloud on a subscription basis. PAN is offering the device for home users, as well as small business owners. A subscription plan will be available later for enterprises, which will allow for remote administration of the Okyo Garde. In addition, the enterprise plan will offer the home user the same but separate security, managed by the home user. So, essentially, enterprises can enforce the security they require on the work from home user, but the work from home user can get enterprise-grade PAN security for his personal use and for the rest of the users in the family, under their control.

This addresses a few critical problems other solutions don’t address. First, it has a “home” side, bringing security to the rest of the users in the house. The activities of others in the house on the same network are a security risk for the company. To date, the emphasis has been on securing the WFH worker and only that worker. This brings enterprise grade security to the *entire* house, under the user’s control and for no cost. Additionally, Okyo Garde is a mesh Wi-Fi 6 access point which means additional Okyo Garde units can be placed in the house for additional coverage. At least in theory: the details on the device itself and mesh capabilities are sketchy at this time. Okyo Garde will be available later this year with the enterprise subscription to follow. Lastly, PAN is offering Okyo Conceirge, which sends someone to the home to install the unit, another snag point for enterprises.

The prices for the subscription to Okyo Garde are probably a little eye-watering for the average home user, but small business and the enterprise should be interested. The price of the Okyo Garde unit itself was not disclosed.

If you are a subscriber to GlobalData’s Tech Information Center, you can access our quick assessment of the Okyo Garde to the enterprise networking market here.

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