As businesses and organizations around the world were forced to move their employees to work remotely, many were not truly prepared for what is required to make that transition while maintaining seamless operations.
As a result, businesses found themselves scrambling to get corporate laptops into the hands of key personnel, while others encountered supply chain issues that reduced stock at both large suppliers and local electronic chains. Each company, no matter what their size was faced with managing internal software and access requirements. But, how do you translate this at scale? How do you ensure that your employees can work anywhere, anytime, and on any platform available? The answer is simple, and it lies in a technology that has been around since the early 90’s and continues to evolve today. While there are many variations it is all fundamentally offshoots of remote desktop. Citrix, VDI, RDS, DaaS, are some of the current names with each product designed for different use cases and business needs.
Years ago, remote access was traditionally a very easy solve. Working from home was not a popular use case as it is today due to available consumer bandwidth options. Most commonly, users were granted access to corporate resources such as files and email via VPN (virtual private networking). More security-focused organizations provided employees with a corporate machine to access the VPN. However, this solution always had a fundamental flaw, those endpoints albeit secured with your corporate AV, were still living outside the perimeter of the network, and would then connect with full access to the network.
As the security landscape evolved to combat emerging threats from all angles, which specifically included remote workers; Solutions were born that allowed remote access to the corporate network without network level access. This meant that users could access all corporate resources but never actually be physically connected to the network. Additional controls put in place by an organization could further lock down and secure that access. While the organizations that still relied only on VPN access to the office, at the start of the quarantine were struggling to get laptops, configure VPN access points and buy additional licensing. Those that had already put in place a robust solution like Citrix, RDS, VDI or DaaS simply ensured that their end users knew how to access it. What makes this so much easier you ask? Well, it is because technologies like Citrix and RDS use the concept of shared application access. Take for example your accounting department who needs to run Great Plains while working remotely. Instead of loading Great Plains on each of those end users’ laptops, you would install it on the Citrix or RDS server and once any member of that accounting team logs in they would be able to access Great Plains as if they were sitting in their seats at the office. This also means that when it is time to upgrade the software, as the admin you simply perform the update once on the server, instead of multiple times for each remote employee. In the last 5-10 years this technology has evolved even more with the mainstream introduction of VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). This concept took the idea of a windows machine and made it available as a virtual machine. This allowed admins the flexibility to deploy and scale machines on demand based on end user need. It allowed for controlled updates to the machines and operating system. Users can either use a pool of dedicated virtual desktops. If situations required it, they had the option of giving users their own dedicated desktops. Now imagine your users who already work in their VDI’s in the office are now asked to go into full remote work mode. Those same users simply go home and log into their VDI and it is like they were sitting at the office. In all these solutions there is a front-end server or appliance that handles load balancing of your connections as well as user authentication. Behind that is either your server farm that hosts the applications or a pool of desktops, making the solution highly resilient and redundant.
Solving the challenges of remote work environments are proving beneficial in other business operations. If added to your BCP/DR plan they ensure business continuity by allowing your operations to continue regardless of what happens in the office. Many of the VPN-only organizations currently allow their end users to VPN into the office and then use Microsoft RDP to access their office computers. In a perfect world this works, but it does not account for loss of power or catastrophic events that affect the office. It also does not account for simple things like computers that are simply powered off and cannot be accessed.
If you are an organization that is serious about proving the best level of remote access while securing the enterprise, Thrive is here to help. CONTACT US TODAY!
Anticipating the IT resources that are necessary for current and future company requirements is an ongoing and challenging responsibility for IT professionals. The most difficult part of implementing new applications is the knowledge that your existing server environment may or may not be able to accommodate them.
If servers are utilized efficiently then implementation may be possible. However, the challenge you face with an older server infrastructure involves (more…)