After two years of the pandemic, the IT industry has evolved to the point where virtualisation of everyday spaces has become standard. However, let us not forget the learnings from the pandemic: having the right mindset and adapting to change. Rapid technological advancements and powerful concepts such as edge computing and IoT enabled platforms like the Metaverse have the potential to transform our workplaces and are already becoming a reality. According to a , 44 per cent of employees are willing to work in the Metaverse; however, 43 per cent feel their employers do not have the knowledge or expertise to adopt the structure. The rapid transformation in the workplace and willingness of the workforce to explore new ways of working necessitates organisations to upgrade their IT infrastructure at the same pace. This means having the right technology partner who can offer the most reliable, scalable and flexible end-to-end infrastructure covering all requirements from pocket (edge) to the cloud. Deploying the correct IT infrastructure While the Metaverse offers significant benefits such as enhanced workforce collaboration and real-time communication, it also introduces some challenges for businesses such as the need to upgrade their IT infrastructure to address the growing compute demand and adopt flexible solutions to keep up with the business requirements that are changing every 12 to 18 months. To provide a unified experience within the Metaverse, interoperability between hybrid IT environments as well as efficient data/workload/application management is required. Organisations interested in hosting Metaverse entities can use hybrid cloud solutions to improve privacy, reliability, scalability, and security. Hybrid cloud employs a distinct, yet interconnected architecture comprised of on-premise, private, and public environments, and improves speed and availability by hosting resources closer to end users. Hybrid cloud allows organisations to accelerate workflows, improve collaboration, and increase budget flexibility. It also enables leaders to better allocate resources and share information. In fact, there is already a number of companies committing to the evolving workplace and creating their own metaverse to facilitate a greater level of collaboration. Furthermore, hybrid cloud provides organizations with enhanced data protection and security, which aids in the de-risking of businesses by mitigating security-related challenges associated with vulnerable activities. For example, the Metaverse relies on IT infrastructure as well as external devices such as VR headsets to provide virtual access. While organisations continue to strengthen end-point security, securing IoT (edge) devices necessitates an overhaul of security best practices. Strengthening hybrid cloud security with a secured edge and Zero-Trust strategy While more businesses are recognising the importance of cybersecurity and data protection, it is still difficult to identify bad actors in this hybrid era and unprotected devices can compromise not only individual identity, but lead to ransomware, business data breaches, and in some cases physical threats. Cyber threats like ransomware are at an all-time high, with a 54 percent increase in reported attacks since 2020 in Singapore. Zero Trust architecture helps organisations ensure that their employees can access and retrieve resources while preventing cyberattacks. This includes securing your edge network as recognising the level and potential of leveraging real-time AI insights to address business challenges and gain competitive advantage is critical. Organisations should prioritise four key steps to properly implement a Zero-Trust strategy: 
  • Persistent endpoint management for complete visibility into applications, data points and connections while retrieving data that helps to 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 to enhance security, as it requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to access a resource
  • Secure WiFi networks to grant a business control over who can connect to the network and configure their network and equipment
In this hybrid era, it is critical to implement a comprehensive solution that ensures every endpoint is visible and accessible regardless of the location of operating devices. Solutions like Lenovo’s ThinkShield portfolio can also encrypt data from beginning to end, allowing sensitive data to be safely shared within an organisation, regardless of where the data is stored – whether on a device’s hard drive or in the cloud. Sumir Bhatia is President, Asia Pacific, Infrastructure Solutions Group, Lenovo