By Johan Pellicaan, Scale Computing
Before the pandemic, the world was moving toward a hybrid workforce where at least some time would be spent working remotely. Along with following a global trend of employees asking for remote working flexibility, organizations began to see the added benefits of incorporating remote work, many of which were published in the annual OWL Labs 2019 State of Remote Work report. These benefits include a happier workforce, higher rates of employee retention and increased loyalty, and a 79 percent increase in productivity.
A Gallup poll from mid-May 2020 found that half of the employees currently working remotely would want to continue working off-site once businesses reopen. This research indicates that employers should consider increasing their remote work offerings or taking a hybrid approach in the future. While there are many steps organizations can take to prepare for this new landscape, ensuring employees have access to a secure network capable of performing well outside of the office is a major concern, especially for MSPs. By implementing virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions, MSPs can protect their clients’ employees and provide them with a simple solution and modern technology to reflect the changing landscape of remote work.
The History Of VDI
Shortly after it arrived in 2006, VDI became a popular solution for IT organizations. The ability to provide users with the flexibility of centralized management and access from anywhere spurred virtual workspaces capable of being deployed to workers anywhere and on any connected device.
Offering remote users valuable support, better image management, increased security, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) flexibility, the demand for VDI grew in the IT community over the next 10 years. Despite its growing popularity, high costs, and increasing complexities from external bandwidth issues for large numbers of users, difficulties ensuring network security via VPNs and changes to Windows virtual machine licenses held the technology back from achieving its full potential.
After interest began to fade, recent demand for VDI technologies has provided organizations with affordable solutions capable of providing flexible and highly available services to remote users.
VDI Improves When Combined With HCI And Edge
When combining edge computing with hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), VDI becomes more affordable, easier to deploy, scalable, and easy to manage, which is ideal for the IT infrastructure needs of MSP clients. Remote HCI nodes can be added to already deployed systems used by remote workers and are easily rolled back once the demand for remote workers decreases.
VDI solutions powered by HCI and edge benefit the lean IT teams of MSPs, which are tasked with supporting large numbers of users for the long term. With only a few hours of training, the combined technologies simplify and automate many of the time-consuming day-to-day tasks impacting IT teams by streamlining and centralizing administration.
Designed to be managed from a central interface, IT staff can manage and scale everything as needed from a central IT hub. This makes it easy for administrators to remotely manage and protect software, as well as backups, for each user.
Adding edge computing systems to VDI solutions also equips IT teams with powerful integrated and automated disaster recovery (DR) capabilities, such as replication, file-level recovery, and snapshot scheduling. IT teams can send full network backups and snapshots of individual desktop profiles over wider networks to a cloud repository or remote data center to strengthen their enterprise BAU strategies. Should an unexpected failure occur at a work access point or terminal, users can immediately move to a different machine and login again.
Edge computing also reduces latency and congestion previously associated with VDI technologies. This makes it easier for IT teams to maintain and manage growing desktop workloads while ensuring the seamless desktop experience necessary in the modern landscape.
Securing The Edge
Along with the performance benefits afforded by HCI and edge computing, today’s VDI solutions enable IT teams to enhance the security stance of the extended enterprise while simultaneously boosting workforce agility.
Deploying VDI on an HCI edge computing solution enables remote users to log into their systems from anywhere, granting access to emails, files, and applications, while using multi-factor authentication to guard against unauthorized access. This means MSPs can remotely monitor user profiles and receive automated alerts flagging potentially suspicious activity. IT teams also can further enhance data security through VPN connections, keeping sensitive data within the corporate network while ensuring the corporate network is not exposed to employees’ private networks.
With the increasing use of BYOD within the VDI environment, IT teams also can extend the same flexibility that provides access to the personal desktop profiles of remote users through their devices while maintaining security and preventing data loss.
VDI: A Revolution For The Hybrid Workforce
The deployment of a remote workforce as a response to COVID-19 has emphasized the need for secure and efficient solutions for remote users. Incorporating HCI edge computing has transformed VDI, boosting scalability and ease of use in addition to making it even more affordable and easy to deploy.
MSPs remotely manage the IT infrastructures of their clients. With VDI solutions in place before the pandemic, MSPs were able to quickly react and set up remote users to their existing corporate workstations. VDI also enabled MSPs and other organizations to quickly scale up and meet enterprise demand. As MSPs examine their role in the future of a hybrid workforce, considering the implementation of HCI-powered VDI solutions will offer a quick, secure, and cost-effective way to address the needs of workers during and after the pandemic.
Capable of serving remote users without a VPN connection, the addition of HCI and edge-enabled solutions reduce costs and complexity, affording MSPs and organizations of all sizes and across industries access to critical VDI technologies built for hybrid work environments.
About The Author
Johan Pellicaan, Vice President EMEA, has been at Scale Computing since 2016 and has over 30 years’ experience in technology sales and product management, with more than 10 of those focusing on reseller and distribution. Previously Johan worked at Springpath where he was responsible for driving their hyperconverged EMEA regional strategy as the Vice President and Managing Director of EMEA. Prior to Springpath, he was an executive at Seagate, Microsoft, and ProClarity. This wealth of experience means Johan has a concrete understanding of both the channel and the hyperconverged market.
Johan has a proven track record in rapid international growth; under his direction Microsoft’s joint venture with SAP, Duet, was crowned the most successful business software introduction in Microsoft’s history.