CONTINUUM Blog

Post COVID-19: Taking your telework tools to the next level

One of the first business needs identified during the current pandemic was for employees to be able to work remotely. Within days, IT teams mobilized and proposed different options to access the most critical applications and information systems—and the work continues.

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From temporary means and measures to a permanent solution

For the vast majority of organizations, these efforts lead to implementing technical solutions such as email access, secure VPN tunnels, remote connections to physical workstations, and shared folders and documents—all temporary measures that have at least allowed teams to operate for over two months now. But is it enough to prepare for what’s to come?

 

Fortunately, a series of popular Cloud services and mobile applications has complemented the emergency kit already deployed by businesses. These services, often provided for free, have been particularly helpful in addressing needs related to communications and teamwork as well as organizing meetings and videoconferences. However, if the situation continues, a much larger scale re-engineering of work could be necessary. The purpose of this exercise would be for each of the company’s departments to collaborate in order to rethink how tools are organized and to review key applications, internal and Cloud based services, main network access contexts, peripherals and security requirements. In short, it would establish a foundation for a virtual “Digital Workspace” solution that is better adapted to user profiles and their main needs. Some organizations have already launched similar exercises in preparation for the post-COVID-19 era… Paranoid or visionary?

 

Despite the anticipated gradual lifting of restrictions over the next few months, we are entering a new reality where telework and worker mobility are moving up the list of business priorities. Whether it’s to increase productivity, prepare for another crisis or simply because remote access is becoming critical to the success and continuity of services, companies are focusing much more seriously on the concept of that virtual « Digital Workspace ».

 

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Digital Workspace – The next step in the evolution of our work environment and Cloud integration

The concept of a Digital Workspace, often also associated with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), has existed for many years now. Yet, in just three years, we have seen a sharp increase in its adoption within companies and public-sector organizations. Several factors have driven this transformation, namely the growing need for mobility, increased Cloud use, multi-device usage, connected services and applications, technology maturity, as well as an approach increasingly focused on user experience and self-service. In addition, the technical and financial justification of projects, once nearly impossible, is more and more supported by business imperatives and objectives that organizations want to achieve at all costs (e.g. productivity and telework, Cloud integration, attracting new employees, information access control and security, etc.).

 

Building a Digital Workspace has always had the same goal of streamlining access to a virtual work environment “Anytime, Anywhere, Securely!” The concept now also involves the development of enterprise Web portals, service catalogues (e.g. company App Store), Cloud integration and aspects such as collaboration, social communication and accessibility from any device (like Netflix, for example).

 

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Among the most mature and widespread solutions on the market, VMware is a must-have with its suite of software solutions; VMware Horizon, Horizon Cloud, Horizon Apps and others. For a number of years now, VMware has mastered desktop virtualization and application publication principles, allowing it to offer customers effective, stable and reliable solutions. The company has also made a series of acquisitions to integrate, one by one, products, patents and the most recent innovations, giving it a significant edge over the competition. Horizon offers just as many options for local solutions or as Cloud-based SaaS services. Additionally, VMware’s community of service partners can assist with implementation. PCD’s professional services team is one of those local specialized and certified integration partner for Horizon projects.

 

Building the infrastructure and foundation for the project

Therefore, each Horizon project needs a technology foundation beforehand. There are several options available to you, ranging from local data center to 100%  cloud-based solution (e.g. AWS or Azure). In the majority of projects, we work with Intel server (e.g. Dell PowerEdge or industry equivalent). We often talk about “vSAN ready nodes” systems. For companies that are more committed to transforming themselves into the “hyper-converged” approach, simplifying and automating their infrastructure, we are working directly with HCI solutions such as Dell VxRAIL which integrate several VMware Cloud software components as well as Dell’s managed services. These provide an efficient, high performance, scalable and modular architecture to support the future evolution of this type of environment.

To help you understand VMware Horizon and how it works, here are a few recently published videos and an overview of the solution architecture.

 

Video Resources

VMware Horizon – Workstation virtualization
https://youtu.be/haIeDcUxuDs

 

Horizon Cloud – Horizon platform as-a-service
https://youtu.be/mBD0HtcoCNE
Demo: https://youtu.be/IHOgJDj70xM

 

Horizon Apps – Application publication
https://youtu.be/tIxB0X2caQo

 

Presented in collaboration with

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Solution architecture illustration

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Hundreds of VMware Horizon solutions have already been deployed in Canada, namely in the financial and insurance sectors, healthcare and services, transportation companies, retailers and government. There is often a “departmental” or “application-specific” use and yet, the user experience and business outcomes are highly positive. This is one of the reasons behind all those new and sudden requests around VMware Horizon.

We believe that the current pandemic is playing a key role in accelerating virtual « Digital Workspace » and VDI infrastructure initiatives, driving the adoption of a much more global approach to extend these technology deployments throughout these organizations. In fact, many companies are preparing to ensure a better support of telework technologies with a focus on information security, employee’s productivity and team collaboration.

 

NOTE – Since we launched this publication, we added a new article on VMware Horizon… now available 100% Cloud-based on AWS. To read this article, click here.

 

François Rainville
Solution Architect
PCD Solutions