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Home Office Network Setup for the Remote Employee

Posted by Matthew Weber on Jul 16, 2020 10:00:00 AM

The remote workforce is now more prominent than ever, and companies are looking for the best long-term or even permanent solutions for a work-from-home model that meets the needs of the business. With video conferencing becoming more widely used by businesses, the ability to prioritize voice and video over the home internet connection can really add stability and improved experience to video and voice calls. The good news is that permanent home offices can now be treated in the same way a satellite office has been traditionally configured with an SD-WAN solution.

Several factors need to be considered when configuring a permanent work-from-home setup:

  • Security of the extended network itself for both wired and wireless connections.1x, MAC address security, and posture checking before a device is allowed on the network.

  • Ease of use and deployment. The more complicated it is, the more opportunities there are for human error and the longer it takes for deployment. If you are moving your entire workforce home, that would mean long hours for a small IT team or the deployment of a larger IT staff.

  • What about BYOD policies? An office-extended home network opens up a lot of opportunities for family home devices to be connected to the wrong network and could cause security issues for the corporation as whole.

  • Offering a wireless solution is more common today than ever before. It allows the user to roam about their home without having a network cable run across the floor or confine the employee to a single room or area of their home.

Cisco Meraki offers solutions that address all these requirements, with security, corporate wireless extension into the home office, simplified deployment, and the ability to remotely manage and configure those appliances from anywhere in the world. The solution is a plug-and-play deployment that can be sent directly to the employees’ home without IT ever having to physically preconfigure the devices. All that’s needed is to apply a pre-configured template when it calls back to the cloud.

The Auto-VPN feature on the MX and Z series appliances allow the corporate network to be securely extended to the home office over the VPN. The MR access point use 802.1x RADIUS authentication, combined with access controls and posture checking via Cisco ISE, to ensure that only authorized devices are allowed on the network. Remote configuration and control of the device is all done through the cloud dashboard.

Depending on the need of the remote worker, the Meraki Z3 series teleworker device offers a great single-device solution for a small apartment or home office. The built-in wireless—and the option for built-in 5G cellular that can be used as a primary or backup internet connection—makes it both flexible and portable. If a home deployment requires a larger space or more dedicated hardwire ports for a desk phone, printer, and laptop or desktop configuration, the Meraki MX 6x series firewalls (with or without built-in wireless) is also a great option. With the MX 6x series firewalls, all the features of a Meraki MX firewall are available, including threat protection and content filtering, firewall rules, and layer 7 application rules. For a full home deployment, with multiple floors and rooms, the Meraki MX 6x series firewalls with an MS-120 8 port switch and the Meraki MR33 access points will cover the entire home with all the firewall rule capabilities of the MX, the ability to create multiple vlans, network security, and multiple SSIDs for both family and work device protections.

Traditionally, the home office of the remote employee has used a client VPN or a small home router that maintains a site-to-site VPN back to the corporate headquarters or the data center. However, things have changed as the home office becomes a more frequently sought out option for workers. It’s become much easier to extend additional services to the upgraded permanent home office—like secure networks, wireless, and desk phones—while keeping the business going.



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Topics: Enterprise Networking, SD-WAN, Remote Working