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Developing and producing medicines is the focus of the pharmaceutical industry, and it is easy to overlook the information technology that support these efforts. In addition to strict regulatory requirements, the pharmaceutical industry must maintain the utmost confidentiality and security.

Are virtual desktops appropriate for the pharmaceutical industry? The short answer is yes, and let’s delve into the reasons why.

Confidentiality and Security

In all phases ranging from initial development to clinical trials to regulatory clearance to production, confidentiality and security are critical. Many individuals must collaborate and access various data, and any piece of information falling into the wrong hands could have a profoundly negative and perhaps even devastating impact. Large pharmaceutical entities have substantial IT staff to support virtual desktops and other technologies that address confidentiality and security.

But what about the small- and medium-sized enterprises in the pharmaceutical space? Packaging vendors, medical clinics, data analysts, consultants, start-ups, and others in the pharmaceutical industry likewise need IT systems that provide confidentiality and security, but without a massive IT staff or budget.

Virtual Desktop Environment

Virtual desktops as provided by a service provider, often called Desktop as a Service (DaaS), is the optimal solution for pharmaceutical enterprises. Not only is DaaS a cost-effective business solution, but it also addresses the technical requirements for end-user computing.

From the user perspective, accessing the virtual desktop is just a matter of entering credentials and then a familiar Windows 10 desktop environment appears. By presenting the user with a distinct virtual desktop where the user can perform all work, reliance on the physical computer is minimized and thus more secure. The physical computer only requires a web browser to access the virtual desktop, and all enterprise application interactions take place within the virtual desktop.

Where DaaS has been implemented, users save documents and files centrally, not on the physical device. Especially for the pharmaceutical industry, storing user or corporate data on the local computer can create an exposure level that is unacceptable. What happens if the user computer is lost or stolen? Or if the enterprise separates with the user on short notice, creating a hostile situation?

In the pharmaceutical workplace, a packaging engineer will typically create documents for regulatory approval and design product packages. If the interim work effort had been saved on a local computer, it is possible that files could become corrupted due to a virus infection or a hard drive failure, causing the delay of a new medicine release. But if that packaging engineer uses a virtual desktop, those files are safely preserved within the centralized cloud environment.

The compute power of virtual desktops can support the high-end calculations and resources that medical data analysts and scientists may require as they evaluate clinical trials, review radiology reports, and other massive data requirements. Unlike physical computers where upgrades to memory or processing power are complex, allocating additional resources to a virtual desktop is as simple as asking the user to logoff, administratively increasing system resources, and asking the user to login again. It takes just a few minutes provide the user with the necessary computing power.

Pharmaceutical industry regulatory compliance varies by country. Nonetheless, security compliance is a common denominator, and the inherent features of DaaS are conducive to securing positive responses from auditors. In addition to the requirement for proper user authentication, session communications are secured and encrypted, and robust auditing data is available. Because all compute resources in a virtual desktop environment are centralized, anti-virus and storage are likewise addressed centrally. As a result, system updates and backups are addressed without impacting users.

Security of patient data within clinical trials is likewise critical, and virtual desktops ensure that no data remains on the physical device of any clinician. With a traditional desktop, temporary or permanent data from some applications remains within the hidden AppData folder on the local computer, but with a DaaS solution, such is not the case. Where any data is written to the AppData folder within the virtual desktop, it is wiped clean when the user logs off and that virtual desktop session ceases.

Lastly, disaster recovery within a virtual desktop infrastructure presents little to no disruption to users. Where virtual desktops have been deployed, if a disaster affects the local office, users can easily work from home or another location. If the disaster relates to system resources hosted by the DaaS provider, failover processes and/or restoration activities that have been tested and documented are engaged.

“What If?”

Covid-19 brought about a new focus on, “What if?” Many pharmaceutical enterprises have been challenged in unforeseen ways as they continue development of medicines. For example, scientists focused on cancer and blood disorders continue to address those diseases, and it is increasingly difficult to find patients and administer those clinical trials. As a result, flexibility, agility, and adaptability are required for enterprises in the pharmaceutical space, and virtual desktop technology can provide the optimal enabling solution.

Desktop-as-a-Service, or DaaS, offers a variety of benefits for businesses of all types.

However, DaaS solutions, which replace physical PCs with virtual desktops hosted in the cloud, can be particularly beneficial for companies that specialize Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO. From simplifying regulatory compliance and security needs to cutting costs and more, DaaS helps BPO providers operate more profitably while also gaining an edge over competitors.

To prove the point, here are five reasons why BPO providers should replace their employees’ physical workstations with cloud desktops delivered via a DaaS platform

1. Reduce internal overhead

To operate profitably, BPO providers need to minimize their own overhead. Efficient operation is critical for ensuring that BPO firms can offer outsourced services at lower prices than their clients could achieve if they implemented them in-house. The more time and money BPO providers spend managing their own business processes and infrastructure, the less effectively they can deliver outsourced business services to their clients.

DaaS helps keep BPO providers’ internal processes lean and mean by eliminating the need to maintain expansive fleets of physical PCs. With DaaS, businesses never have to worry about upgrading physical hardware, replacing a failed hard drive or not having enough IT staff available to keep track of all of their PCs. When desktops are virtualized, they can manage all of their desktop environments from a central location — the cloud — and deploy or decommission desktops at a moment’s notice.

For BPO companies seeking to streamline their internal processes, then, DaaS offers a compelling solution, especially given that operating costs related to computers and maintenance and upkeep represent a significant portion of BPO overhead.

2. Offer more services

When you can roll out a new desktop environment quickly and can update desktop software centrally, it’s easier to deploy new types of outsourced services. Instead of having to install a new application on every physical PC in your fleet in order to support a new type of offering, you can update your machines centrally from the cloud. And if you need more cloud desktops to support a new service, you can deploy them instantly, instead of having to acquire and set up physical hardware.

Given that offering “a diverse range of services allows companies to gain a competitive edge in the market for business process outsourcing,” according to Grand View Research, the ability to leverage DaaS as a way to offer a large and diverse selection of services is critical for BPO companies’ competitive success.

3. Meet compliance rules

Regulatory laws that dictate how and where digital data may be stored, like the GDPR, HIPAA and CCPA, complicate the ability of BPO providers to manage consumer data (like addresses and phone numbers) for their clients. This is because regulatory requirements may mandate certain data security protections for personal data that are difficult to implement across a fleet of distributed PCs. Regulatory laws may also require that data be stored in a certain geographic region (such as the one where a BPO’s clients are based) that may be different from where the BPO company is based.

DaaS makes it easier to adhere to these compliance rules by providing BPO companies with unparalleled control and flexibility over how they store and manage their clients’ data as it flows through employee workstations. Not only does DaaS nullify security risks (and, by extension, compliance requirements) related to the physical loss or theft of desktops, but it also provides BPO companies with the option of hosting their entire desktops on servers located in a specific geographic region, even if their employees are based in another region.

For example, if a BPO provider’s client needs its customer data to reside in the United States but the BPO itself operates from call centers in India, DaaS provides the ability to host desktops on servers located in the United States, while still making them available through the cloud to employees based in India. That’s a powerful advantage from a compliance perspective, and one that BPO providers simply can’t achieve using traditional PCs.

4. Build a scalable business

To offer compelling outsourced services, BPO companies must be able to deliver those services faster than their clients could implement them themselves. They must also be able to scale services up and down quickly as their clients’ needs change.

DaaS helps BPO providers achieve these goals by making it fast and easy to roll out new desktops, as well as to scale down the size of desktop infrastructure quickly when service needs decrease. As a result, BPO companies that use DaaS can quickly bring employees online or offline in order to accommodate their clients’ needs.

To put this advantage into context, imagine a BPO contact center with a client that suddenly announces a product recall, resulting in a sharp increase in call volume. With DaaS, the BPO company can instantly deploy the desktop environments it needs to support the rise in calls. This would be much harder to do if the company relied on physical desktops that had to be purchased and set up before they could be used to handle higher volume.

5. Improve security

Security remains an “ongoing struggle” for BPO companies, according to ComputerWeekly, which also notes that a poor reputation on the security front can hamper the ability of BPO providers to land clients in places like the United States and Europe.

DaaS can’t solve every IT security challenge that BPO providers face, but it can significantly improve some aspects of security. By centralizing desktop infrastructure in the cloud, DaaS makes it easier to monitor and audit desktops for malware and other threats.

DaaS also allows BPO companies to decommission the desktops of former employees quickly. That’s an important step toward improving security given the high attrition rate in the BPO industry and the tremendous risk associated with failing to revoke former employees’ access to IT environments. With physical PCs, a BPO company would have to send support staff to the computer and remove a former employee’s accounts manually in many cases. DaaS makes it possible to revoke the employee’s access to his or her cloud desktop or even take the entire virtual desktop offline instantaneously, which is a cleaner and simpler process.

Conclusion

Success in the BPO industry requires the ability to offer a range of services, respond quickly to changing client needs and meet strict security and compliance, all while keeping operating costs in check. DaaS helps BPO providers meet all of these challenges in a way that physical PCs can’t. In turn, DaaS helps ensure BPO profitability, even in the face of the ever-growing competitiveness of the industry.

All clouds are not created equal, and generic references to cloud may be confusing.  Just like all automobiles are not the same, not are all clouds the same.  

There are essentially three types of clouds:

  • Private
  • Public
  • Hybrid 

Each has its own benefits and drawbacks as will be discussed below, and sometimes the confusion related to clouds is based on lack of a clear definition.

Private Cloud

Private cloud refers to on-premises infrastructure that may be housed within the enterprise or within a segregated space in a co-located data center.  The servers and hypervisor resources deployed in this type of data center are dedicated solely to a single enterprise.  Within a private cloud environment, IT is fully responsible for the hardware, software, networking, monitoring, and maintenance.

Private clouds have the benefit of being highly customizable.  If an organization has unique requirements, IT has full authority to alter computing systems as they see fit.  The downside is that costs can spiral out of control, especially within organizations that are decentralized.

With a private cloud, expansion and contraction present challenges.  For example, if additional resources are required in order to address a busy season or fewer resources are needed during slow times, the enterprise must provision equipment based on peak requirements, plus an element of redundancy.  As such, the total cost of ownership is higher due to idle resources.

Disaster recovery is more complex and expensive with a private cloud infrastructure.  Duplicate system resources are required at a secondary site that go unused during normal operations.  As a result, the costs for a disaster recovery site with a private cloud cost are doubled.

Public Cloud

Public cloud is gaining in popularity as providers–such as Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Services–offer fixed costs for hosted resources.  Enterprises have a clear understanding of the costs for utilizing each type of resource and can accurately predict monthly utilization fees.  In addition, there are no surprise costs for maintenance or equipment replacement.

Referring to the example of an enterprise that experiences peak and slow seasons, public cloud services are optimal from a cost standpoint because resources are only enabled when necessary.  This can represent massive savings.  

By offering compute resources within a shared infrastructure, complexity is reduced and scalability is improved.  IT staff no longer needs to request and order new hardware, place it in server racks, install networking equipment, ensure proper cooling levels in the data center, and similar work effort.  Instead, an IT professional just selects the desired resource from an administrative interface, and the resource is quickly deployed.  Public clouds enable IT to be extremely agile.

When testing new applications or processes, running a Proof of Concept (PoC) in a cloud environment is fast and easy.  By simply designating the compute resources, testing can commence in short order to prove or disprove a new concept.

Public cloud systems require a new skill set for IT staff.  While the administrative interfaces are generally intuitive, there are many unique technology features to each public cloud that must be absorbed by the IT staff.  Also, each public cloud uses slightly different terminology and processes, so there is a learning curve for each public cloud.

A key downside to a public cloud infrastructure is lack of control of backend systems.  When an entire site or public cloud provider experience issues, all tenants may be impacted.  While Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) guarantee high uptime, system interruptions do occur from time to time.

Hybrid Cloud

Private clouds and public clouds each have unique benefits, and enterprises can opt to take advantage of the best of each by adopting a hybrid cloud solution.  While it may take a bit more work effort to ensure full integration and access, the flexibility, cost, and reliability gains are significant.

For example, an enterprise may elect to continue operating an on-premises data center and utilize a public cloud for disaster recovery.  With this solution, a secondary site does not need to be allocated.  Thus, DR site resources are not billed until needed, so the total cost of ownership is significantly lower.

One downside to a hybrid cloud environment is that IT staff must be thoroughly familiar with both clouds and be able to determine which cloud is best suitable for each circumstance.  This may necessitate additional training and perhaps even more IT staff.  

Which Cloud is Best?

Although hybrid is often selected as the optimal solution, such is not always the case.  Most organizations have moved or are in the process of moving at least some of their compute infrastructure to a public cloud.  However, some are choosing to continue exclusively with a private cloud, and others are moving all system resources to a public cloud.

Cost and functionality are key drivers in determining which cloud is most suitable.  Because all clouds are not created equal, each enterprise must delve into the benefits of each type of cloud to determine whether private, public, or hybrid cloud is the best solution.

Successfully empowering a remote workforce is more important than ever. Today’s remote employee requires the same performance, access and security as they would working out of the corporate office. Traditional methods of supporting remote employees using local desktop operating systems, applications and VPN connectivity leads to inconsistent and inefficient computing experiences. Let’s learn how Anunta’s virtual desktops can provide a better remote workforce computing experience.
Better Security
Considering all the high-profile cybersecurity incidents of late, it’s no wonder businesses are constantly on the lookout for the most secure technologies to protect applications and data from bad actors. Anunta Tech powered virtual desktops are built on a cloud infrastructure that was engineered with security as a top priority. Because the virtual desktop and all applications/data are hosted within an industry-best cloud infrastructure such as Azure or AWS or Horizon, virtual desktop users can be sure that their data is protected regardless of where a remote employee is working from.
Additionally, businesses that must adhere to strict regulatory standards will be happy to know that Anunta’s cloud desktops are fully PCI, HIPAA and SOC2 compliant. This fact eliminates any hurdles that may have gotten in the way of some businesses or healthcare organizations migrating to virtual desktops. Regardless of what compliance requirements your market vertical must observe, Anunta raises the bar when it comes to data security.
Improved Network Performance
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work in an application that’s exceptionally slow. For remote workforces, this is unfortunately more common that it needs to be. The primary reason is because remote user network data flows are often poorly optimized. This creates added latency to the application, negatively impacting the end-user experience. Forcing users through VPN tunnels is the most common reason for poor remote workforce network latency. While secure, VPN tunnels often force all traffic into the corporate network prior to redirecting it to the application or database server the end user is attempting to access. This creates suboptimal network paths, increasing network latency.
Anunta’s Cloud Desktops largely eliminate the need for remote access VPN’s. Not only does this simplify remote workforce access to apps and data, but it also eliminates unnecessary latency due to VPN tunnel hairpins.
Delivering a consistent desktop experience
Even during the 2020 pandemic, many businesses allowed employees to operate in a hybrid workplace environment. This means that employees may work inside the corporate office one day – and out of their home the next. Being able to deliver a consistent desktop experience in both environments greatly enhances an employee’s ability to perform their work duties. As such, a platform that virtualizes the desktop experience both in and out of the office is an increasingly important feature to have.
The beauty of Anunta’s Cloud Desktops is that it performs identically no matter where a user resides. Thus, end users do not have to modify their work processes or habits as they shift between in-office or work-from-home settings.
Flexible access
When you ask remote workforces what their top needs are from a technology perspective, flexible access to apps and data is always at the top of their list. Not only do Anunta’s virtual desktops allow users to connect from any location – they also let the users connect to virtual desktops using a wide range of endpoint devices. This includes support for Windows PC’s, Macs, Chromebooks and even Apple iOS and Android smart devices.
Remote workforce technologies — part of a business’s strategic IT plan
The 2020 pandemic played a major factor in advancing an IT department’s need to improve access, security and performance of business applications. But even as some business leaders plan to eventually bring employees back into the corporate office, understand that the need for remote workforce technologies have become a critical part of a business’s overall business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan. The future of business will demand that employees be able to access apps, services and other digital resources in a safe and efficient manner no matter where they reside. That’s why it’s so important to properly plan and architect for this level of remote workforce flexibility in 2021 and beyond.

As we embark on a new year, what lies ahead for new technologies, and what will be the impact on the workplace?  Will 2021 introduce incremental changes or will ground-breaking technologies profoundly and quickly impact the workplace?

2020 in Review

First, let’s take a brief look at the technical changes that occurred over the past year.  Of course, Covid-19 abruptly changed how we work, and it forced the adoption of new computing technologies.  In particular, workers were thrust into working from home, as well as altered ways of collaborating with business colleagues.  Some businesses expanded exponentially, whereas others declined.

As we look back at 2020, the single most impact from an end-user computing standpoint was the result of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) gaining in popularity.  Although WVD was actually released in late September 2019, the first few months were largely evaluation and testing, not actual adoption.  

While virtualization technologies have been available for over 20 years, the combination of cloud-based infrastructure, advantageous licensing, and Covid-19 caused many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to adopt the WVD in 2020.  

As Anunta approaches a decade of providing end-user virtualization technology services, we have worked with our customers to marry the right technical capabilities with business needs.  We have seen firsthand how small businesses have been able to transform themselves with the adoption of better IT services.  

What’s Next?

As small businesses continue to represent a critical pillar in the economy, the creation and growth of this business segment will draw even more attention in the future.  Small businesses have unique needs, particularly from a user computing standpoint.  However, many small businesses struggle culturally between the desire to “do it all,” versus outsourcing IT services.  Going forward, more and more small businesses will accept IT service providers as the optimal solution, especially in light of how the workplace will continue to morph in the future. 

Virtual desktops are a key enabler to a more efficient workplace.  Whether the virtual desktops are provided by Microsoft or VMware or Citrix, or another technology, the ability for users to securely access enterprise resources from anywhere and via any device removes many of the hindrances of traditional computing.  The user device is largely irrelevant, i.e., access is not dependent upon a particular piece of hardware.  Thus, whether users access enterprise resources via a corporate-owned device, a home computer or tablet, or even a large mobile device, so long as an internet browser can be opened, the virtual desktop can be accessed. 

Remote Working

Remote working has transformed the culture of many workers, and employers will more concretely realize cost efficiencies related to office space, as well as increased productivity due to the elimination of commuting time.  According to a recent Gallup poll, “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so.”   Even after Covid-19 subsides, many employers have openly stated that the traditional office will not be revived.  For some, this means working from home permanently.  Where some face-to-face collaboration is required, this will translate to unassigned office hotdesks with thin clients or generic devices when visits to the office are necessary.  Whether the employee works from home or a hotdesk, the virtual desktop will provide the underlying technology that makes it feasible.

Security

There will be an increased emphasis on system security.  As much as employers want to provide secure remote access, bad actors continue to proliferate and will become even more creative in the future.  This challenge is even more critical for small businesses that are not savvy to these intruders.   

Accessing the virtual desktop requires optimal security and analytics.  While SSL/TLS security is a standard feature of virtual desktop sessions, we can expect to see even higher security, intelligence features, and analytics integrated into user access.  Cloud technologies inherently incorporate built-in security, and we can expect artificial intelligence to play a larger role in the behind-the-scenes security.  Security Information and Event Manager (SIEM) intelligence will be further optimized and become even more critical detecting system threats.

Government and industry compliance requirements will continue to affect what businesses can and can’t do.  Health care and banking already have a myriad of security requirements, such as password compliance, and it is reasonable to assume that these compliance requirements will continue to increase in complexity.   The downstream impact falls onto not just the IT organization, but also individual users.  Virtual desktop service providers, also known as Desktop as a Service (DaaS) providers, such as Anunta, are engaged by numerous end customers in various industries, and those outsourced systems often supersede compliance requirements without special requests.

Affording the Future

Of course, the price tag factors into the technologies that enterprises will adopt in the future.  The price for computing services must align with pre-defined budgets and not represent an exorbitant increase in costs.  DaaS providers fully recognize this; in addition, competition and technical advances force this commercial alignment.  

Wrap-Up

The workplace of the future simplifies how we work. It is based on the ability to securely access enterprise resources from anywhere, on any device, at any time, and at a reasonable cost. While this is basically available today, we can expect a surge in security and system enhancements that further drive the value of DaaS.

VDI or DaaS – Which Should You Pick?

VDI is to DaaS what a screw is to a nail: Both solutions can be used to achieve similar goals, but they work in different ways and cater to different needs.

If you’re struggling to decide whether VDI or DaaS is the best solution for your business, read on. Below, we walk through the similarities and differences between DaaS and VDI and explain what to pick for which situation.

What is VDI?

VDI, which stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is a technology that hosts virtual desktop sessions on a central server, then allows users to connect to those sessions from remote devices over the local network.

A typical VDI setup involves using Windows Server to host several remote desktop sessions. Then, users who want to access those sessions use a tool like the Windows Remote Desktop client app to connect.

That said, VDI is a generic term. You don’t have to use Windows Server to build VDI infrastructure. You could use a standard Windows desktop machine to host virtual desktop sessions, too, although that approach is less common. You could also build VDI infrastructure using Linux PCs, if your organization prefers Linux over Windows.

What is DaaS?

DaaS stands for Desktop-as-a-Service, a type of solution in which virtual desktop environments run in the cloud, with each environment hosted in a dedicated virtual machine. Users can log into these environments, which are sometimes called cloud desktops, from anywhere on the Internet, not just a local network.

Like VDI, DaaS can be implemented in a variety of ways. Windows-based cloud desktops are most common, but Linux desktops can run in the cloud, too.

There are also different types of clouds that can host cloud desktops. They can run in a general-purpose public cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Or, they could be hosted in a cloud platform dedicated just to DaaS.

Differences between VDI and DaaS

From the end-user’s perspective, VDI and DaaS deliver mostly — but not totally — the same experience. Nonetheless, there are crucial differences between VDI and DaaS:

  • Network setup: In a VDI-based environment, virtual desktops are accessed via the local network from devices that are either physically present on the network, or are connected to that network via a VPN. In DaaS, the public Internet provides the network connection between remote devices and virtual desktop environments. Users can typically connect to a DaaS service from anywhere, without having to use a VPN.
  • Desktop session type: In VDI, desktop environments run as virtual sessions on the same host operating system. In DaaS, they run as distinct virtual machines. This means that DaaS provides a higher degree of isolation between desktop environments.
  • Deployment time: Because VDI infrastructure must be set up on a company’s physical site, it typically takes longer to deploy VDI than a DaaS service, which can be made available in as little as a few hours.
  • Scalability: It’s easy to add and remove cloud desktops from a DaaS platform at will. Scaling VDI infrastructure up or down takes longer, because it requires adding or removing physical on-site servers.
  • Historical popularity: Although both VDI and DaaS solutions have been available for years, VDI has historically seen higher rates of usage in enterprise environments. DaaS is now becoming very popular as well, however, and may overtake VDI in popularity in the coming years.

VDI vs. DaaS: What to choose when

Again, VDI and DaaS deliver a similar end result: Desktop environments that users can access from remote devices. However, one solution is likely to prove better than the other, depending on the company’s needs.

VDI works best if the following is true:

  • Most users will connect to desktop sessions from the local network. Although VDI sessions, as noted above, can be accessed from off-site using VPNs, this adds a layer of complexity that makes VDI less than ideal when the majority of users are off-site.
  • Network performance is a priority. Because VDI sessions are delivered over the local network, they generally offer higher rates of bandwidth and faster response times than DaaS. That said, DaaS services running on modern infrastructure are quite responsive, too.
  • The business already has servers available to host VDI sessions or is able to make the capital investment necessary to acquire them.
  • The risk of disruptions to local infrastructure (due to factors such as loss of power or natural disasters) is minimal.

Meanwhile, DaaS is ideal under the following conditions:

  • The business requires dedicated, isolated desktop environments for each user.
  • It’s a priority to maintain access to desktop environments even if the business’s local infrastructure is disrupted by events like natural disasters. Because DaaS hosts desktop environments on remote cloud infrastructure, the environments are not harmed by disruptions to local infrastructure.
  • Users require a simple, turnkey solution for connecting to their remote desktop environments without having to install special software (like VPN and RDP clients).
  • The number of desktop environments that the business requires is likely to fluctuate or grow quickly over time. Because DaaS services are easier to scale, they are a better fit for this situation.

Need help choosing between VDI and DaaS?

Anunta is an experienced provider of both VDI and DaaS solutions. If you’re struggling to decide which approach is the best fit for your business, contact us for expert advice to determine whether VDI or DaaS offers the greatest value for your needs.

Is IT Prepared for a Hybrid Remote Workplace Environment?

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed remote work squarely in the spotlight. As businesses began allowing employees to work from home (WFH) in early 2020, many IT leaders were left wondering whether remote workforces will become the long-term rule as opposed to the exception. In reality, the modern workplace has long been evolving toward a hybrid environment where employees can be productive anywhere and at any time they choose. Innovations in cloud technologies – including desktop as a service (DaaS) — have greatly accelerated this hybrid workplace capability. Let’s dig into why that is and how it can be used to better prepare your business for a hybrid work environment.

It starts with the access

At one time, corporate infrastructures were designed and built with the understanding that most employees would come into the office to perform their work duties. As such, application, network, and data security components were deployed to support this access model. While remote connectivity did exist in the form of remote access VPN, these components were designed to handle only a fraction of the overall employee headcount. Thus, major modifications were required to sufficiently support a much larger proportion of simultaneous WFH employee access.

Thanks to innovations such as IaaS and SaaS, however, infrastructure architects quickly realized that employees could directly connect to business applications and data anywhere they had internet access. The need to VPN into the corporate office has largely been eliminated as most apps and services now reside in the public cloud. This means that employees can perform their daily tasks in the office, at home, in a coffee shop or anywhere else they happen to be. This is the first step to a proper hybrid workplace experience.

Simplifying remote desktop management

While cloud computing allowed for ease of access regardless of physical location, an IT department’s desktop support team ran into other remote workforce issues. The desktop team found that they could quickly become overwhelmed when attempting to manage and/or troubleshoot corporate-deployed PC’s that were operating in WFH situations. Troubleshooting traditional desktops using remote management tools can be a time-consuming process compared to a technician having direct access to the hardware. Because of this, IT architects are beginning to leverage another cloud service – DaaS — to help them streamline desktop deployment, management and troubleshooting tasks. Not only do virtual desktops provide employees with an effective space to work within while at home or in the office – the ability to support virtual desktops in a remote or hybrid setting is also greatly enhanced thanks to DaaS.

Shared data requires centralized control

Using traditional desktop deployments, employees often can store important data and documents onto the local desktop hard drive. If a laptop is lost or stolen, this becomes a major security risk for the organization. With DaaS, however, all applications and data are kept within the service provider’s cloud infrastructure. Thus, employees can no longer save files to their local desktops. Not only does a virtual desktop architecture reduce risk from a data loss prevention (DLP) sense, but it also creates a much more uniform environment for data sharing across geographically distributed workforces. No longer will copies of files be made and splintered by remote employees. Instead, everyone is required to collaborate using a single set of stored data residing securely in the DaaS providers cloud infrastructure.

Achieving an effective hybrid workplace is closer than you think 

Whether your business plans to continue WFH strategies or begin bringing employees back into the office, having a flexible workplace will be a critical part of your organization’s overall success. Fortunately, cloud computing services grant employees the ability to seamlessly move between the office, home and anyplace in-between. While cloud computing in the form of cloud-managed apps and data are a great start, a missing component of your hybrid workplace strategy may be the desktop itself. Traditional desktop deployment models simply don’t function well in hybrid workplaces. Stand-alone desktops are too cumbersome to manage and lack important data security protections. Instead, IT decision makers should plan to migrate to a DaaS solutions like Anunta’s Cloud Desktops. This modern approach to desktop deployment is the only way to truly provide the utmost in hybrid workplace flexibility, security, and productivity.

According to a recent study by Stanford University, “an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full-time”. While a large portion of us have been working from home (WFH) due to the pandemic, it’s likely that at least some employees will eventually migrate back to the corporate office once the COVID-19 situation is under control. That said, there are benefits of WFH employees – or for employees who wish to work in a hybrid workplace setting. If that’s true for your organization, now may be the time to investigate whether it makes sense to make flexible workplaces a permanent fixture. Let’s explore how hybrid workplaces are created are along with the pros and cons of this model.

Creating a hybrid workplace

From a technology standpoint, creating a hybrid workplace is more than just handing employees a laptop and giving them a remote access to apps and data. Instead, a hybrid workplace is a major architectural change from an application and service delivery standpoint. The goal for a hybrid workplace infrastructure is to provide the same level of application access, performance and security both inside the corporate network as well as outside. Most often, this requires that the IT department migrate apps, data and services to one or more public cloud service providers (CSPs). Doing so allows users seamless access to digital corporate resources no matter what location they work from.

Benefits of hybrid workplaces

A key benefit of hybrid workplaces is that they allow employees to perform their job duties from practically any location they choose. A 2020 HBR study shows that productivity can actually improve in certain professions when employees are allowed to work from home. Therefore, it may be wise for businesses to offer a hybrid environment to employees that can prosper from it. The migration of services into public clouds gives the IT department the ability to allow employees to access these resources directly instead of having to first backhaul traffic through the corporate network.

Additionally, moving to a hybrid workplace forces the IT department to implement much-needed security architecture changes to protect all users – not just those working from within the corporate office. Distributed workforce security tools such as zero trust and secure access services edge (SASE) architectures will help create a complete, end-to-end security framework with which to operate and manage a hybrid workforces.

Drawbacks of hybrid workplaces

While the benefits of hybrid workplaces are clear, it’s important to understand the potential drawbacks. For one, many IT departments continue to manage applications and data housed within private data centers. Thus, it becomes far less efficient to access digital resources while working remotely. To truly build-out a hybrid workplace architecture, migrating as many of these applications and services to the public cloud is a critical step. Failing to do so can result in suboptimal end-user experiences.

Next, some IT departments struggle with creating new end-user policies and tools that help protect the business from lost or stolen data. As workforces move outside the cybersecurity protections deployed within a corporate network boundary, data becomes much harder to monitor and track. This is especially true in situations where IT departments deploy traditional desktops and lack the necessary controls required to keep data from leaving those desktops. 

Finally, hybrid workplaces can create gaps in communication between employees and teams that previously did not exist. If changes to how employees collaborate and share data while working remote is not properly addressed, it can create significant slowdowns in productivity. Thus, processes and tools must be implemented to close this communications gap and to allow geographically dispersed employees to work in shared-data environments.

Setting the foundation for a successful hybrid workplace environment

It’s clear that hybrid workplaces are indeed the future of work. As mentioned, cloud computing plays and major foundational role in any successful hybrid workplace rollout. The cloud can not only offer uniform access for in-office and remote employees, but modern cloud security tools can also provide seamless data security as users flow between locations. Most businesses have already leveraged cloud services in one form or another. If hybrid work is your goal, it’s wise to continue migrating apps and services as quickly as possible.

Additionally, IT architects are finding that an investment in virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) or desktop as a service (DaaS) can significantly streamline the management of hybrid workers. Virtual desktops can also help from a data loss prevention (DLP) standpoint as all data resides securely within the VDI or DaaS infrastructure. Therefore, the combination of cloud-based apps and services along with virtual desktops create an excellent foundation for hybrid workplaces both now and into the future.

Let us first understand what a cloud desktop is. A cloud desktop, also known as Desktop as a Service (DaaS), is a cloud computing offering that enables users to access the applications and data from anywhere, anytime using any device. All the necessary data, applications, operating system are stored on the cloud (public or private).

Windows 10, an operating system developed by Microsoft, is known for the all-encompassing security, availability and support for multiple applications, and the user friendliness.

A Cloud Desktop on Windows 10 is a cloud desktop that has Windows 10 as the operating system and is hosted on either Azure or any other cloud.

What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a virtual desktop deployment model in which the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology is hosted on cloud. It allows organizations to deliver cloud-hosted desktops to their employees and provides them access to their enterprise applications and data from any device, any location and at any time. Gartner defines Desktop as a service (DaaS) as an offering that provides users with an on-demand, virtualized desktop experience delivered from a remotely hosted location. It includes provisioning, patching and maintenance of the management plane and resources to host workloads.

In DaaS, the storage, network resources, and other support infrastructure are hosted in the cloud. A DaaS service provider streams the applications and data over a network to the end-users’ devices through thin/zero clients, where the employees can access their desktop through a client software or a web browser with the necessary authentication.

In the past few months, mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, DaaS adoption has accelerated at a never-before-seen rate as enterprises need to support their remote workers and provide a secure work environment increased significantly. According to Gartner, Desktop as a service (DaaS) is expected to have the most significant growth in 2020, increasing 95.4% to $1.2 billion. DaaS offers a reliable and cost effective remote working option for enterprises to provide their employees a long-term and sustainable remote working technology that is highly secure and allows employees to access enterprise applications from multiple devices and locations.

What are the benefits of Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

DaaS can help organizations achieve anytime access to their applications and workloads and change the dynamics of how the employee work. Using DaaS can also help improve the performance and productivity of employees as they are able to securely access the data on any device.

Some of the key benefits of DaaS are as follows:

  • Accessibility and Flexibility :

    Employees can access their applications, desktops, and data over the internet via PC, laptop, tablet, and smartphones from anywhere, keeping them productive, no matter where they work.

  • Agility and Scalability :

    Rapidly scale up and down (bringing hosted desktops online or pushing new applications across a hosted desktop estate) depending on your business needs, whether it is, M&A, staffing temporary workers during peak seasons, managing contractors, or opening branch offices.

  • Business continuity :

    The continuous availability of desktop coupled with the centralized storage and backup of data enables businesses to stay up and running in the event of a natural disaster or any other unforeseen event.

  • Cost control :

    Pay for only what you use through monthly or yearly subscription models. This helps reduce capital expenses by doing away with investment in desktop hardware, servers and licensing and thereby using those funds for more value-added initiatives. Adopting DaaS can also help businesses enjoy more predictable operational expenses.

  • Security :

    Data is held and regularly backed up in a secure hosted environment and so it is secure. DaaS provides users with a secure access point and simplifies desktop and app management processes and procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions related to Desktop as a Service (DaaS) are:

How does desktop as a service work?

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provides organizations access to enterprise applications and workloads hosted on public or private cloud. The workforce can access their desktops using an internet or via a web-based browser securely on the device of their choice.

DaaS is mostly available as a pay as you go subscription model where organizations pay only for what they consume. The VDI infrastructure is hosted on cloud and is rendered on the device using a thin or zero client.

Standard DaaS providers deliver the virtualization technology while a managed desktop as a service (DaaS) provider takes care of end-to-end implementation and management of the virtual environment. Managed DaaS providers like Anunta provides a complete freedom to organizations from the pains of implementation (provisioning, configuration, and integration) and management (incident and problem management, change and patch updates) of virtual desktops.

What is the difference between VDI and DaaS?

In Desktop as a Service (DaaS), the desktops and applications are hosted on either a public or private cloud as compared by VDI, where the workloads are hosted on an organization’s own data center. DaaS is a cost-effective option to adopt virtual desktops as no upfront expenditure is required to procure servers, physical spaces, and resources, etc. It is flexible to deploy and supports geographically distributed end-users as compared to VDI where user proximity to data center is required. DaaS can be scaled up at any time without much hassle.

Anunta works with leading enterprises globally to enable workplace transformation by adoption of Desktop as a Service(DaaS) across cloud providers (Microsoft Azure, VMware’s Horizon cloud on Azure, VMC on AWS, Amazon Web Services, and private cloud).

What is the future of workplace using Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

The future of work has changed as the workplace shifts to home. The need to expand remote work solutions has pushed businesses and their IT teams to re-consider End-User Computing (EUC) technologies like VDI & DaaS.

DaaS is helping organizations to overcome the remote work challenges such as data security, accessibility, and operational issues. With remote working becoming the new normal, DaaS adoption is one way to cater to the organization’s scalability and flexible pricing needs in the long term.

According to Gartner, DaaS adoption is expected to grow at 44% by 2023, contributing to more than 50% of annual spending on Remote Client Computing by 2023.

What are the top use cases for Desktop as a Service?

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provides most organizations the flexibility to migrate their physical desktops to cloud securely. A few of the common use cases of DaaS which organizations can use include,

  • Security and Compliance

  • Bring your own devices (BYOD)

  • Contractors and Partners (Temporary workers)

  • Contact Centers

  • Desktop and PC Refresh

  • Remote and Branch office workers

  • Field workers (on the go workers)

 

Use cases of Desktop as a Service

Use cases of Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
Learn why Anunta’s Managed Desktop as a Service is the right and long-term solution for your business.

Anunta’s Managed Desktop as a Service provides you with fully managed virtual desktops on Cloud platforms of your choice (Azure, Horizon Cloud or AWS) depending on the needs of enterprises. Provide your workforce the power of cloud desktops as a secure, sustainable, and scalable solution for remote working.

Top Desktop as a Service Providers

Anunta is the only managed desktop as a service provider (DaaS) provider to feature as a representative vendor in Gartner Market Guide for DaaS among other DaaS providers mentioned in the list by Gartner. The Market Guide provides an overview about DaaS market and shares a list of representative vendors, including Anunta.

What differentiates Anunta from competitors?

Anunta is a recognized specialist and a leading managed desktop as a service provider focused on managed desktops and digital workspaces. Anunta offers an end-to-end design, implementation, and management of cloud hosted desktops for clients globally.

Anunta’s Managed DaaS services include:

  • Managed Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD):

    Provisioning and integrating Customer-specific Azure VMs (multi-session or single session or Server OS-RDS) and management of the newly virtualized environment to address teething issues.

  • Managed Horizon Desktop:

    End to end implementation and management of virtual desktops on the VMware’s Horizon platforms (Horizon 7, Horizon Cloud on Azure, Horizon Cloud on IBM SoftLayer) and VMware Cloud on AWS.

  • Managed Citrix Desktop:

    Implementation and management of secure managed desktop solution on Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

How Managed DaaS is different from DaaS?

Typical DaaS solution provides organizations with the hardware infrastructure and software with basic support but leaves the enterprise’s IT teams to deal with setting up and managing the virtual desktops. This includes provisioning, configuration, integration, migration, and management which require specialized expertise often not available in-house. Anunta’s Managed DaaS provides end to end delivery of the desktops on the cloud with comprehensive 24X7 support and takes away all the pain of managing the new environment.

Common FAQs on Desktop as a Service

Desktop as a Service for Individuals

Anunta Managed DaaS is available for both enterprises and individuals. Anunta’s DesktopReady is a fully managed virtual desktop solution built on the inherently secure and high performing Azure® cloud. DesktopReady requires no upfront capital expenditure or separate set up costs. Request a demo for DesktopReady.