Â IT pros seek ways to improve their organizations’ VDI solutions to better accommodate remote workers. In this article, Prashant Ketkar, Chief Technology and Product Officer at Alludo, explains what IT pros need to achieve easier application access.
Today’s workforce has moved past the pandemic crisis and settled into new ways of working, becoming more in tune with what they need to work efficiently and happily. To match these expectations, enterprises are evolving from the world of â€˜open source’ to â€˜open work,’ needing to deliver true agility to application use so workers can enjoy the freedom of choice in platforms and devices. It’s the next generation of (remote) work in which executives and workers ideally become more closely aligned in productivity expectations and results.
Lofty goals? Recent history has proven enterprises have been impressive in transitioning millions of workers to remote environments. However, the job is not over. According to Parallels’ State of Virtualization in 2023 and Beyond survey,Â 28 percent of respondentsOpens a new window Â (IT professionals) seek to improve the agility, flexibility, and scalability of their organizations’ Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions and related technologies. They work in a hybrid computing environment on-premises and cloud (public or private) and require a hybrid cloud solution that can support Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, among others, to deliver virtual applications and desktops.
Streamlining Helps All Industries
A hybrid-cloud, unified remote desktop solution is necessary to satisfy the flexibility needs of workers in various fields who are now accustomed to working on varied devices and multiple platforms in diverse locations.Â They want simplified and secure access to applications they need to be highly productive.Â
Easier application access helps in:
- Education: School faculties and staff can seamlessly access applications remotely and deliver virtual learning curricula without a complex setup.Â It enables students to access the digital tools they need for learning and schoolwork, on any device, from any location, anytime.
- Healthcare: Staff who travel between locations or floors in a hospital complex benefit from unified VDI management that gives them secure access to virtual desktops, applications, and patient data on any device, anytime. They can also use single sign-on (SSO) to log in faster and access their applications immediately.Â In emergencies, this streamlined access helps response time by enabling real-time updates.Â Â
- Manufacturing: Workers on the production floor can more effectively meet or exceed production schedules by having access to applications and data on demand.Â More availability of real-time data also helps supply chain managers make more informed decisions and schedule adjustments as needed.Â
What it Takes
Key practices for enterprises wanting to move to an open, more agile work environment include:
Start with a virtualization review:Â Examine whether the current VDI environment is performing at its best and where changes/improvements need to be made. Conduct an assessment of virtual machines (VMs) and ensure auto-provisioning and auto-scaling processes are solidly in place to accommodate on-demand deployment or removal of VMs as traffic needs change.Â This should support the business’ VDI strategy and virtual apps, whether on-premises, cloud (public or private), or hybrid.
Seek IT buy-in early on:Â Engage IT positive support to effectively make changes in VDI, application access, and agnostic device support. Besides the virtualization review, collaborate with IT and HR to develop an enterprise-wide view of anticipated future needs of the hybrid workforce, coupled with understanding business initiatives that may impact future application access and VDI investment. For example, suppose a new manufacturing facility is being built. In that case, IT may be developing a cloud-native application delivery process that will require access controls, more cloud storage, and new applications â€“ all of which will need to support the open work concept of easy, on-demand access for the worker.
Strive for simplicity:Â To be cost-conscious and efficient, IT needs to aim for simplicity while accommodating multiple platforms and devices. Unified management is the answer. IT will want to have an integrated, central source from which to manage the delivery of apps and desktops. Centralized management will make it easier and less costly toÂ mix and match workloads to address business and technical needs based on the changing corporate and user needs.
Secure the remote workspace:Â Statistics show that remote security needs improvement and must be factored into delivering and managing remote access to applications and data. TheÂ IBM Cost of a Data Breach 2022 ReportOpens a new window Â says, â€œOrganizations that indicated remote work was a factor in the breach experienced an average cost of a data breach of USDÂ 4.99 million. In contrast, the average data breach cost was USDÂ 4.02 million when remote work wasn’t a factor in causing the breach, a difference of USDÂ 0.97 million or 21.5%.â€Â Â
Multi-platform app delivery should include these security features:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) across multiple platforms.
- Smartcard authentication.
- Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and single sign-on (SSO). These enable users to switch conveniently and securely between hosted Windows, web, and SaaS applications without reentering credentials.
- Expression-based filtering defines access rules based on users/groups, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and devices. It uses a natural language format to reduce complexity for IT admin while providing more flexibility.
- Encrypted end-user connections using SSL/TLS and FIPS 140-2-compliant encryption.
Zero trust capability is also a must-have, whether remote or on-site. While IBM reports that only 41% of organizations have deployed zero-trust security architecture, the data shows a distinct advantage in having zero trust. According to IBM, organizations with zero trust saved nearly USDÂ 1 million in average breach costs compared to organizations without zero trust deployed.
Send a clear message:Â To ensure the successful deployment of a new multi-platform solution, fostering transparency and trust with employees is crucial. This can be achieved through clear communication of the new solution’s benefits to the employees and offering training and feedback mechanisms. Staff town hall meetings are great for addressing concerns and questions before deployment. Also, IT teams and managers can integrate ongoing feedback into their regular employee communication streams to ensure the investment in the new solution shows a return in productivity and a positive employee experience.
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Bringing Agility to Application Access
The converging trends of a remote, distributed workforce, and the multi-cloud environment in which IT staff must deliver virtual applications and desktops, is driving the need for an open work environment in which workers, regardless of device or location, can get the applications they need without any hurdles.
While enterprises have made a start in efficient VDI, the Parallels survey shows that many enterprises are still in their early days of deployment:Â 21% are either in proof-of-concept or beginning migration; another 35% are in the deployment of one year or less. These enterprises can improve deployment by heeding the key practices of carefully assessing their current and future VDI needs; getting team buy-in early on and communicating goals across the organization; improving the security of remote workloads with MFA, encryption, and other features, and using a unified platform for efficiency and cost control.
With these practices in place, enterprises can bring true agility to today’s remote workforce and have a VDI infrastructure that can scale for the future.
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