How to Scale Secure Remote Access with VDI in the Cloud

For organizations responding to the global health crisis, remote work is a direct and immediate requirement for business continuity.

In these last few weeks, IT departments have been striving toward this goal.

But for end users, lack of access to work applications may be impeding their return to full productivity after the shift to working from home full-time.

Deploying virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in the cloud provides organizations with the means to scale remote access capabilities and address a sudden spike in the number of remote workers.

Below, we’ll look at five main ways deploying VDI in the cloud provides you with a fast and secure way to succeed with remote work.

How VDI Helps Enable Remote Access

Because virtual desktops run on virtual machines in the cloud or on-premise data center environments and end users access these desktops through PC remoting technology, VDI makes it easier to provide access on-premise corporate and SaaS applications from anywhere on any device.

From a user perspective, performance is often as good as or better than on a local device, because the virtual desktop is adjacent to back-end resources, such as storage. Meanwhile, VDI technology optimizes network traffic to mimic the responsiveness a user might experience on a local desktop.

In addition, VDI makes day-to-day IT tasks like deploying and managing new desktops and supporting distributed workers much less labor-intensive. IT also maintains tight control over movement of data in and out of the business. Because this data isn’t stored on the local device, the risk of data loss if a device is lost or stolen is also much lower.

How VDI in the Cloud Can Help

Provisioning devices and remote access at scale can be complex and time-consuming in a physical data center – especially when IT departments may be required to operate with reduced staff. VDI in the cloud allows IT departments to streamline deployment and administration, improve security and offset the higher cost and complexity associated with on-premise lifecycle management.

Cost Efficiency

VDI in the cloud outsources the physical infrastructure components involved to a cloud service provider, exchanging an upfront CAPEX investment to a more controllable OPEX model. Here, IT departments also avoid the three-to-four-year deprecation cycle associated with on-premise infrastructure.

The result is a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) achieved at the outset of a cloud-hosted deployment, where an on-premise solution might yield a positive ROI after 18 to 24 months. Furthermore, IDC pegs the average cost per user of cloud hosted VDI at 55% lower than that of virtual desktops hosted on-premises [1].

This benefit becomes even more important as organizations look to cut costs in anticipation of economic uncertainty.

Scale Up or Down

In the cloud, the process of adding or removing virtual desktops and applications takes is simple and almost instant. This means an IT department could scale up a remote desktop environment to accommodate a dramatic spike, such as the current scenario, with minimal effort.

In some scenarios, deploying in the cloud also allows organizations to extend their existing on-premises infrastructure for additional scale while using a single pane of glass for management.

Ease of Deployment, Management & Support

Cloud hosted VDI also minimize the technical expertise required to deploy and administer virtual desktops. In fact, IDC estimates IT departments realize an average efficiency in staff time of 57% compared with VDI deployed in an on-premise data center [2].

Because desktops are delivered by a cloud service provider over a secure network and supported by a Service Level Agreement (SLA), end users can also expect higher availability than with physical PCs, which often require a desk-side visit when things go wrong.

By removing the need to maintain physical infrastructure or access devices directly for repair, cloud-hosted virtual desktops offset some of the inherent end-user support challenges in an all-remote scenario.

Improved Security

As with on-premise deployments, VDI in the cloud improves security by storing data with the cloud provider, rather than the individual device. However, organizations can also benefit from the cloud provider’s efforts to update and continuously improve their security measures, alleviating some of the need for in-house cybersecurity skills.

At the same time, by isolating the device OS from corporate applications and data, cloud hosted VDI prevents the spread of malware throughout the network. As malicious actors look to exploit the confusion around COVID-19 and remote work, this added protection is a key benefit.

Global Reach

All the leading cloud service providers operate in geographically dispersed locations, eliminating performance challenges around user proximity to the data center. As such, cloud-hosted desktops can be deployed and allow user access from anywhere. This advantage can be critical for organizations needing to support users working remotely far from the core office location.

Despite its advantages, deploying virtual desktops in the cloud may not be the best way forward in every scenario. For example, because VDI is limited by WAN performance and latency, performance varies depending on the user’s proximity to a cloud or on-premise data center.

In situations where end users are widely dispersed or live a great distance from a cloud provider data center, the resulting performance degradation could create a frustrating end-user experience.

Where to Go Next

Enabling employees to stay productive and secure while working from home full-time is a high priority for many IT departments responding to the challenges posed by the global pandemic.

Nonetheless, investments made now out of necessity today also have the potential to lay the groundwork for a more agile workforce in the future.

Whatever stage of crisis response and business continuity you find your organization in today, our team of experts is ready to help you enable your employees.

 

Register for our April 21 Webinar – Virtual Desktop Solutions to Enable Your Remote Workforce

Explore Softchoice Business Continuity and Rapid Response Services.

 

 

 

[1] “Assessing the Business Value of VDI in the Public Cloud,” IDC, March 2018.

[2] “Assessing the Business Value of VDI in the Public Cloud,” IDC, March 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Big Takeaways from 2019’s Virtual Discovery Expo

Top 3 Takeaways from Virtual Discovery Expo

Virtual Discovery Expo, or VDX—a free, online-only tech conference—just wrapped and the community is still abuzz about it. VDX featured more than 25 disruptive vendors, along with breakout sessions, networking opportunities and downloadable takeaway content. We love tech conferences, and so we were excited to deliver this one right to our customers’ desks. Enough exciting content came out of VDX for several articles but we’ve narrowed it down to three big vendor takeaways. Read on to see what attendees are still talking about.

#1 Google’s Cloud Secrets, Revealed

Google became a pioneer in cloud out of pure necessity. A handful of their services have over a billion users. Some are on their way to two billion. This means an unprecedented – and perhaps intimidating – demand for growth. It also means a network unlike any other. With this in mind, Google has developed a cloud development philosophy that allows them to stay agile throughout its rapid expansion. Neil Bunn, manager of customer engineering at Google Cloud Canada, shared that philosophy with us in his keynote address. He broke down the following elements of Google’s approach to maintaining agility:

  • When possible, use open-source solutions to ensure maximum portability.
  • Rely on abstracted infrastructure to avoid hardware procurement limitations.
  • Take a software-defined approach to avoid vendor lock-in.

These principles can make any cloud infrastructure more scalable, says Bunn. Moreover, Google Anthos, a new cloud platform he showcased during the address, provides this kind of agile infrastructure as a managed service.

#2 How the Cloud Can Secure Itself with Microsoft

Security in the age of the cloud is difficult, according to Microsoft’s Jon Wojan. It’s hard to guarantee that mobile devices are secure. Yet more workers are demanding mobile access. Organizations expand their attack surface all the time, but there remains a serious skills shortage in security. As Wojan pointed out, we’ve entered a world wherein security is no longer about stopping breaches – it’s about damage control.

From Wojan’s perspective, the cloud complicates security while also revolutionizing it. For example, inputting records of attack into machine learning systems—pooling data—allows them to learn how malicious actors behave and then stop them on the spot. Cloud systems can also compile and profile typical user behavior and block or grant conditional access for users acting outside the norm.

Implementing these tools requires a shift away from the siloed approach—one firewall and one encryption solution—and towards integrated systems like those offered by major cloud providers like Microsoft.

#3 The Collaborative Future Is Almost Here, Thanks to Jabra

We are living in the age of the collaborative, mobile workplace. More than ever, a new class of employee is contributing to the enterprise: the “remote office professional.” This development is another step toward a more flexible future, where employees have a choice over where and when they do their jobs.

While some are skeptical about this direction, research on the issue yields some hard truths.

  • Open-plan offices—used by 70% of organizations today—are terrible for productivity with 81% of workers complaining that noise and interruptions are their biggest issues in the workplace.
  • Once distracted, it takes the average worker 23 minutes to refocus.
  • Employees in open-plan offices take 61% more sick days.

Until recently, the problem was the technology.

  • Sixty-three per cent of surveyed workers report that technical glitches—which take up a reported 10% of every 45-minute meeting—negatively impact their performance.
  • On average, dealing with such glitches takes up 10% of the duration of a 45-minute meeting.

Enter Jabra, a new generation of audio endpoint devices that provide seamless unified communication with the most advanced noise cancellation capabilities available. Jabra devices are designed to handle remote workers—and those in the office whose jobs don’t allow them to roam.

With these advances, it should come as no surprise that by 2020, 72% of workers will be working remotely.

More to Discover

This is just a sampling of the business concerns VDX vendors addressed. If there was something you missed, worry not! You can still log in and access recorded breakout sessions, keynotes and downloadable content from our 25+ participating vendors. Experience VDX on demand