NETGEAR Epidode 2 Home Office Of The Future
11:35AM Jul 12, 2020
medium sized business
Welcome to switched on thinking a podcast that explores the real world networking challenges faced by businesses of today and the future. Twice a month we deliver insightful and informative analysis of the key role that networking technology plays in driving business success and ensuring business continuity. switched on thinking is brought to you by Netgear, delivering innovative networking solutions you can count on, so you can spend more time on what matters most growing your business. Now, here's your host, acclaimed author and tech columnist, Neil C. Hughes. Welcome back to
The switched on thinking podcast where I'm going to be discussing how net gear and its partners are solving the real world networking challenges of today, and indeed the future and in the coming weeks, you can expect to hear all of the latest innovations in business network technology and working from home
No longer just isolated to the lucky few and after months of working from home at scale, many are no longer location dependent. And that has dramatically changed our expectations as we now expect to be able to work from any device and indeed, anywhere. But when we are working from home, what does that mean for the home office? And in a home full of smart devices and streaming services? How can you ensure your video conferencing meetings have enough bandwidth? And what will that home office of the future look like? These are just a few of the topics that I want to explore today. We've Douglas Chung from Netgear.
Welcome to the switched on podcast dog. Can you tell the listeners a little more about your role at Netgear and the kind of problems that you're solving with technology? Oh, yeah, sure. Thank you, Neil. My name is Doug Cheung. I'm the product line manager at net gear. I'm responsible for the next year business wireless products and storage products at Netgear. And what are the challenges that we face and what the problems that we try to solve? Literally, I mean, we're a networking company. So the primary objective that we have on a daily basis is to connect people more efficiently and a higher quality and make people happier. I mean, literally, you should see the face of people when they struggle with live by and it feels like companies of all sizes from micro businesses to big corporations are all attempting to understand what the future of work will look like at the moment and most importantly, the home office.
The future and what that's going to look like. So I've got to ask how do you see the home office of the future? And how does it differ from what we have now done?
So I am a little biassed, to say the least because I work in a technology field. I really think that technology is transformative. And new technologies transform methods of production and organisation of labour resources. And we have seen it in the past couple years. Right? We are witnessing yet another transformation. Do we still have to work from nine to five? Do we have to have all employees come to the same location Monday through Friday? Do we have to hire only people within one hour commute to the office? I think these are questions that businesses big and small are actively working on the health crisis of 2020 only heightens that reimagining. And may I say that we organising so work from home is going to be here to start Stay, it's only a matter of how we make it work for both the employer and the employee.
And whether you have a home office or a hotel with guests and staff Wi Fi, they just seem to be this constant battle for bandwidth at the moment. So I'm curious, what is the best way of overcoming challenges like this?
No, you're absolutely right. In the past, what, 20 years, maybe even 30 years, internet speed has gone multi fold, right, every couple of years from dial up modem to now, you know, fibre to the home. And very soon we're going to have 5g, but still because of the amount of data and and when I say data, it includes, you know, verbal and visual communication that is multiplied even faster than the internet's feed that affords us so what that means what you said was exactly right. There's always that competition For bandwidth going to the internet, right going to the internet that is the bottleneck. So there are many, many ways to mitigate that I would not call it completely resolved, right? The complete resolution of that is, you know, limitless Internet bandwidth, which is impossible. So given a limited resource, how do we mitigate? How do we allocate that resource among different use of the Internet in the home? That's the challenge. That's a challenge. Um, there are many ways to solve that, you know, by, for example, of prioritising applications. So for example, if I'm only downloading a movie versus someone who is playing a computer game online, who should have a higher priority, if I have someone who is engaging in a oversee, you know, like what we're doing exactly right now between, you know, one place in the United Kingdom and one Place in a in America having a video conference call, which one should have a priority in terms of getting the bandwidth as well as latency, right these two concepts are related but not the same. So handling different applications, giving it a slight different priority is one way to resolve and mitigate that, that the limitation of internet bandwidth and there are many others to write the type of device is I have a refrigerator that is connected to the internet would enjoy the same throughput priority as my computer or as my TV, you know that those are easy questions to answer. But these are the some of the fundamental concepts in mitigating internet speed limitation.
And one of the phrases that I've heard you use quite a lot in the past is work bandwidth life boundary. So I can ask you explain that phrase and maybe bring it to life with a bit Have a scenario.
Yeah, this is really inspired by my wife. Right? She always kind of advises me and monitors me that you got to draw some boundaries between work and life. And this goes on, you know, for four years, it has nothing to do with the latest COVID-19 situation, right? You got to draw a boundary. So when we bring work back to home, that actually heightens that sensitivity, right? When you are in the house. And when you have your communication channel open to work, how do you draw a boundary and it's exactly the same when it comes to your work environment and play environment, right? You draw boundaries in terms of your time in terms of how you allocate your, your your work during the day. In terms of your your networking resources. You also need to have certain boundaries, right. your kids, your friends, play on the computer on the Nintendo or Playstation modules, versus someone watching TV versus someone who is working, having video conference calls, downloading a huge file, or don't forget that there are people who perform conduct online research, right lab work, there's a huge amount of data going back and forth compute going back and forth. Now we need to draw the boundary between work and home life, even in the networking environment, because of network bandwidth requirements, as well as we probably should touch upon it a little bit later. That is security. Right? You start to draw a very, very clear boundary between work and home life when it comes to security. And that is paramount in the future, right when we transform our workforce from offline is only to Office slash home hybrid model, security is going to be paramount. With our security, this new form of working will just not work.
And I'm glad you mentioned the topic of cyber security there because we are seeing cyber attacks and data breaches on an almost daily basis now and then you add into the implications of things like GDP are into the mix. There is so much scope here. So do you think we need to have more conversations about how we secure working from home and if we do, which I presume we do? Where do we begin?
Absolutely. That's a great point. Now, let me just step back just a little bit, right. Think about how you work in the office environment. When you come into the office. You are really protected by a 10 inch 12 inch firewall, thick concrete right impenetrable, but when you move to the home, you got nothing to hide. Home is the easiest, the latest and the easiest port of entry for hackers. Because the that's the weakest link, if you integrate your workforce from home to the office, that is opening up a lot of ports to potential hackers. And that is a big challenge. And and I think I'm actually glad that it's becoming more and more a topic of conversation as well as work among IT professionals to address that from, you know, from telecommunication companies to networking companies like us to employ yours to the IT people in the in the business. Everybody is thinking how to close that gap, right how to fortify that weakest link,
assuming we can get that security piece right. I'm conscious go and buy A little bit that we're talking about managing bandwidth. Because I would say for the average home, we've all been working from home. But that average home has also got people streaming Spotify, Netflix, playing games, and so much more with that bandwidth at that same time that we're trying to have those important Zune calls that we're all familiar with. Now. Do you think there needs to be an education piece around that and and how we share that bandwidth but are in separate in a little bit of your network? Just for your work purpose?
Yeah, so is a big topic. And we're starting to take baby steps to address that. Right. So the very first thing that I would say is that, going back to my earlier theme, right work life boundaries, the very first thing that you should do is to separate your Wi Fi network, between home use versus office use, at the very, very least, have separate SS IDs that that's starting to get a little technical and I think we're gonna get A lot more technical as our conversation goes on. At the very least, people should have separate SSID. That way, number one, you do not compete for Wi Fi bandwidth. Right? That's important. You do not compete Wi Fi bandwidth between playing computer games versus work. Second is that by having separate SSID that's the least you can do to secure your work data, right? Your work communication, that's the least you can do have separate SSID have a passphrase that only you and your potentially that depending on how your company is organised. Only you and your employer know, right, that's the very first thing that you should do and need to do.
Absolutely. And especially when we're talking about the future of the home office, and I think that is such a key component of that future home office and something that we don't do well enough at the moment. I know I don't And it's something that I need to improve on, and I suspect many people listening to but assuming we can collectively manage our bandwidth better in that home office and secure it to, we should then start exploring how we can empower employees and businesses to boost productivity and communication and all that exciting stuff. But I've got to ask, what is it that excites you about those opportunities ahead?
Well, first of all, I think I'm lucky enough to work in our IT industry in a technology field that there are just so many technologies that are available to us, right. It's like getting into a candy store. The challenge is how to make all these technologies work together to fundamentally improve work productivity, improve communication efficiency, and again, like I say, said, Make employees happier. I think I do put some value in you know, employee happiness. And that's part The challenge that you know people in the Wi Fi industry is is facing and constantly trying to resolve right how to make Wi Fi connection more stable, more robust, faster, secure and easier to instal right. So, these are the opportunities and challenges that we face and when it comes to technology teaching not we have just so much technology available to us, right. I mean, I can start from you know, I live in the technology world. So I think of everything in seven layers, right like the networking, seven layers. So if I start from the bottom layer, right, the physical layer, I mean, why phi is a radio technology fundamentally has not changed in the past, you know, 100 years is all about pumping, changing electric field. Therefore, pumping a radio wave out of a metal rock that has not changed in the past 100 years. What has changed is The amount of sheer amount of data, that piece of metal emits within a set period of time within one second, how many data bits you're able to emit out of that very stupid, simple metal rod, right? That's the technology transformation. I mean, we have done that by, you know, changing amplitude, changing frequency and even changing phase, finding a channel within a channel. subcarriers mean that the amount of transformation, evolution in the Wi Fi technology is just mind boggling. That's just on the device level. And then if you look at the system level, what we have seen in the past couple years is and this is really happening throughout it's not only available to the big guys like the big things, the big airports, the technologies are starting to permeate throughout. And what are those technologies You know, when we when you think back, you know, when you first got your, your very first Wi Fi device, it's just a single device you place in that house, right? And now you're starting to have, you know, two or three to cover a bigger area in a business environment. You know, again, 20 years ago, you probably just have one Wi Fi and now we have, you know, Wi Fi access points that blankets the entire workspace. And here's the magic, right? The magic is that when you hold your cell phone in your hand, you walk from one end of the building to the next without dropping a single millisecond of your communication. I mean, that's magic, right. So device the device at a system level. The improvement that we have seen in a wider industry is also by leaps and bounds. We are enabling devices to go between one spot to the other seamlessly, and then you have more and more handheld devices in the workplace as well as in the home. Now look at the home. On average, every person carries about three wireless devices. So if you have a household of three or four, you're talking about, you know, 1216, maybe even 20, if you can, the TVs and the microwaves, you know you have, and then the IoT, so you have so many devices on the network. So the efficiency of the Wi Fi network, how to multiple many, many devices, and then multiple access points efficiently use the limited radio resources. That is also a magic that that that is a technology that we have seen advancement improvement nonstop in the past couple of years. And we're still seeing it that that transformation, that improvement is non stop and neck ear is very much at the forefront of it. So that's at the system level. Let's even look one level higher. Let's look at at a global level what kind of improvements we have seen in networking in Wi Fi in particular, that is a what I consider it as a group at a global level cloud management capability, right? What that means is that you have the ability to manage to maintain to monitor your Wi Fi devices, Wi Fi resources from anywhere you're in the home, you're in the office, you're walking, you're travelling, I mean COVID-19 is pretty much
locked lock us down, right but we are a adventurous people. We are a curious race, we do want to travel we do not want to be you know kind of bogged down at one place. So we so so that freedom, the ability to stay in touch with your network with your network assets and resources at any place at any time. Time is once again a critical indispensable element in this new work environment, right? The flexibility of work hour, the flexibility of workplace, the flexibility of work methods, all required that the capability of, you know, global cloud based management and you know, next year, our prime, customer, target customer are, are the small and medium sized business. And even those businesses increasingly require that capability. And it's just a celebrated by this, you know, latest health crisis in 2020.
And you mentioned that your customers, their dog are small to medium sized businesses, but I wonder if you could expand a little bit on that and exactly who your customers are. And by that, I don't mean so much names, but the kind of professions and multiple industries that they are located in and I'm also curious, what kind of conversations are you hearing For most customers at the moment,
very interesting. So, what is SMB stands for small and medium sized business? You know, we have seen all kinds of definition. So my personal definition is that for small business, that is a company does not have a full time IT manager, that's my definition of a small business. A medium sized business will probably have one guy who does the it work, but primarily outsource the it work to a consultant to a service provider to you know, a reseller and I also would like to, you know, bring up another group of customers, those are micro business micro business really is just a one man shop, you know, no more than three people. These are people who for example, are you know, freelance writers, self employed work from home That's a big group of people. Now, I don't know about the United Kingdom, I think America, there's a very large group of population that is self employed work from home. So that's what I call a micro business. A small business could be a, you know, a restaurant, or it could be a restaurant chain, right? Six, Seven restaurants, could be a law firm, could be a financial service, professional company, could be a small school. These are our target customers, and who every day require, you know, let's just say good networking, solid networking.
And are there any trends in the kind of conversations that you're having with those customers? Or is everybody looking for the solutions to the same kind of problems? Is it that bandwidth thing and in the future of the office, or is it something else?
Now, let's go back to the most recent memory, that's probably the easiest to take up. Right? So the latest conversation is that, how do I work from home? Yeah, I have been working in the office, I have ready access to all the files on all the computers. And now I'm removed from the office, I don't want to drive to the office parking lot and sit outside because I'm not allowed to enter the building. I don't want to sit outside and use life, I can walk in and then do work. I want to stay home. How do I do that? That's a conversation that is happening every single day, how to enable this new paradigm, right? So that's the most recently that I go back to memory a little bit. It has always been, you know, increasing bandwidth, increasing security, how to make my network robust, to not drop to not go, you know, go blind. You know, these are the constant conversations that are that that thing happening.
If we go beyond that, are there any trends around it? Innovation and building that home of the office at the future that particularly excites you or that you're monitoring at the moment,
are several things. First of all, my job is the business side of Netgear. Right. So what I focus on every day is on, you know, business use cases. And, and then line certainly has blurred a little bit because of the work from home. So I really pay a lot of attention on, you know, the home environment is by and large, we have understood what a work environment looks like, but in the home, it's a whole new world, right? We're going to be facing a lot of IoT, right? How do IoT work with the home network, and again, that's quite the kind of my premise on why we need to have a work life boundary when it comes to home networking, because you have all the IoT, once again, they hook up bandwidth once again. They are the weakest link in terms of security. So how to deal with how to not just to deal with how to accommodate how to work with this surge of IoT devices around the house? I think that's going to be very exciting. And then, and then certainly, it's the, you know, the communication aspect, right. 5g is definitely coming. That's going to improve both flexibility and throughput performance into the home. How does business take advantage of that? So that's on the internet side, right, 5g on the local area, network side. You know, there's the Wi Fi six, coming, you might have heard of that, right? Wi Fi six is a next generation Wi Fi technology. After previous generations we know about 11 a b, g, n AC, right. Those were the dominant Wi Fi technologies in the past, what 1015 years, we have Wi Fi six now? How do you business take advantage of Wi Fi six, both at work and in the home? Right Wi Fi six gives you a lot of new technologies means to achieve your goals, for example, better throughput, handling more devices, larger coverage area, shorter latency, and better security. All these are great, right great ingredients in a business network. So I think these are the exciting areas and these are the things that we will be taking full advantage of. Once again, it's not just about technology, right? We do have on our hands, lots and lots of exciting technologies. It's all about how to put all these things together and make it into a product in a service and its solution that fundamentally improves the quality of Work and the efficiency of communication. And once again, I've always said again, the happiness of the employees.
And you're so right. And what you say, though, when you say it's not all about technology and just to bring that point to life, there's a lot of people are going to be working from home, in that home office while also home schooling. And in particular, maths is an incredibly troubling topic, because most kids will say, I don't need it. Because I've got Google, I could just google anything. I've got a calculator on my phone. And parents, let's be honest, have mostly forgot what they learned at school Long, long ago and searching for somewhat of the inspiration to try and make maths cool that I did read a great quote from you recently, where you said that Wi Fi is just math, but I wonder Could you expand on that story for me?
Yeah, I appreciate that. Neil. I do appreciate that. I mean, I do. I do not take credit for that quote. Okay. I was inspired By my daughter's teacher, and he said that he struggles every day answering students question on, you know, why calculus? Why math? Um, he, he only had one very very irrelevant answer when it comes to probability. And that's right, right probability is something that can easily understand and the relevancy between mathematical probability probability as a discipline in mathematics versus real life, but when it comes to calculus is really hard to understand, right? What's the, you know, what's the relationship? Well, how is irrelevant? So coming to my own, you know, my little profession, I mean, when you think about Wi Fi, it's all about math. And just like I said, you know, the fundamental of a radio wave has not changed since Maxwell right? Your your countrymen. It's, it has not changed. But what has changed is that within a finite amount of time the amount of data that you can transmit and as well as receive have just, you know, multiply, you know, hundred votes thousand suppose millions votes in the past 20 years. And and it's all about man it's all it's, it's it's all because of the of math mathematics that is giving it the the tools the foundation to make that possible. So if you have any, you know, listeners who are students or listeners who have kids in school do encourage them. I mean, math is really relevant and it's, it's got everything to do with everyday life and then comes back to your original question. You know, homeschooling education. I forgot to mention that earlier. It is so important to improve why as a technology as a solution. In the home to benefit education from home, and I'll tell you why we're now learning from home. What that means is that classroom will be distributed to multiple locations. How do you have that seamless conversation between teacher and student and between fellow students, as if they were in the same classrooms face to face? That's a challenge, right? If you have that Echo, if you have that noise, if you have that lack that conversation, it's just not going to be conducive to learning to discussion. So immediately, you see the need for high quality networking, high quality, Wi Fi in the home. That's just one aspect. The second aspect is that now I hope I was encouraging your listeners. Now I'm trying to discourage your students now. I hope that there's nobody is trying to hack into their school system to change your grade. I mean, kids are so resourceful, let's just say they can do just about anything that adults can imagine. So to make sure that teachers have a secure connection to, to, to the school has a network. I mean, that's critical, right? If you do not have a credible system for the teachers to grade their students work to, to to to craft their exams, quizzes, I mean, that just won't work. So I emphasise two things. One is the quality of communication that's about bandwidth that's about latency handling, quality of service handling. And the other aspect is really about the security right into insecurity from the desk, in your home, back to the school network, on premise right on the school premise, so These are two very important factors in the future in in this new way of education. I
couldn't agree more. And before I do let you go today, something I would love to do also is to ask you to gaze into your virtual crystal ball for a moment and help people listening, understand where we're heading and explore the art of the possible. So with that in mind, how do you see the home office of the future looking in one year from now? Five years and indeed beyond?
Wow, that's a difficult question. So I'm gonna fall back on something that I feel comfortable with. And then I will stretch my imagination a little bit. Okay. What I feel comfortable with are the following. I know that 5g is going to be here. I know that Wi Fi is going to continue to evolve to of course to become better, right, better means faster, more reliable and more secure. Right. I think these two are the kind of cornerstones in the new work from home environment. And then if I stretch my imagination a little bit, that is the abundance of the varieties of compute devices in your home. And that includes all the IoT that are possibly coming into your house, right your refrigerator, your, your microwave, your, you know, all kinds of things, your door locks, your your window blinds, your security cameras, all kinds of things that will be in the home. Now, if we look into the future two years from now, five years from now, my vision is a big word, but at least my imagination is that it will be seamless. It will be effortless, and it will be it will only improve the quality of life and work without being attacked. wreck without you know having that face, right? That dreadful phase of saying, All my Wi Fi is down, hey dad, my internet is down, my Wi Fi is down, eliminating all those roadblocks all those hindrance to an optimal work life environment. I think that's because at least that's the vision and the goal of my little industry for the next five, maybe even 10 years. And what a beautiful moment to end on. I think we're gonna leave everyone listening, wanting more and wanting to find out more about the work you're doing at Netgear, and also building that home office of the future. So for everyone
listening, before I let you go, can you just remind them where they can find you online and the best way of keeping up to date with the latest news there? And also contacting your team if they've got any additional question?
Yes, absolutely. Um, netgear.com that's the best place to go. That's the first portal. And then there are two other places that I would recommend. One is, you know, the next year communities we have multiple and if you if you get into our community, it's organised by different use cases, different application, different products. There's a wealth of knowledge and lively conversation going on on the community. That's one place. The other thing is go to YouTube. We have a neck year channel and I think you can every now and then find me there and giving a little bit of a talk here and there tutorial. And many, many of my colleagues post their thoughts and demonstrate the latest products than the latest Gizmo is a wonderful place to to go see next year. So at least three places go to our corporate network portal. That's Netgear comm you will find everything there. Go find us. Reach out to Nick your community. Second place the third places go to YouTube. And most of the videos should be fun, fun to watch.
And stay well. I've loved chatting with you today. Doug your passion really comes across for everything that you're doing here. And I think it's been a great relief and break from all those buzzwords that typically come with me tech podcast and just providing real world scenarios and where we're heading, especially because a lot of people have got home offices and homeschooling and working from home at the moment. But more than anything, just thank you for sharing your insights and vision around building that home office of the future. Thank you.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Neil.
meeting rooms household and online articles are all busy discussing what the future of work will look like. And pitting that against working in the office looks like but now more than ever working from home and at scale and video conferencing has become the norm. And I think that the home office of the future is a topic that needs more attention. And I love the phrase that Doug used in the podcast, their work bandwidth life boundary. So how many of you listening have segmented a little of your Why fight just for work purposes to stop all those smart devices, movie and game streaming services in your home from interfering with those important video conferencing calls and all the other aspects of the Wi Fi that you need to work properly. So what does the home office look like? And how do we get there? I think we are all and I do include myself in this need to collectively think about how we can better manage the bandwidth on our Wi Fi, and also improve the security in our home offices too. And I think that only one we achieved that can we begin to explore the real exciting stuff such as empowering employees and businesses to boost productivity, communication, and so much more. And remember, if you enjoyed the show, please leave a rating and review and join me again in two weeks, where we'll continue to investigate how Netgear and its partners are working to solve real world networking challenges today and the future So a big thank you for me for investing your time in listening to the podcast today. And I hope you'll join me again on switched on thinking next time. Thank you for listening to the switched on thinking podcast brought to you by Netgear delivering innovative networking solutions you can count on, so you can spend more time on what matters most growing your business.