First, companies had to provide all employees with remote access to their work environments and tools. This also highlighted the need for reliable communication services, a high-performing Internet connection and reinforced security controls.
Companies that were able to quickly put in place an efficient and secure telework infrastructure developed a major competitive advantage.
45 days to quintuple the number of employees remotely connected to business systems
It’s not surprising that so many organizations are now completely reviewing their approach to telework, since efforts were made in such a hurry. We often hear that temporary environments had to be built in about 45 days, all in the middle of a lockdown. Of course, many of these companies already had certain foundations in place. Telework already existed before the crisis. However, these organizations never had to deal with such a large-scale deployment. In fact, less than 3% of companies had planned for the special measures and scenarios necessary in case of a global pandemic.
Under these circumstances, IT teams’ responsiveness and creativity have been exemplary. Virtual private networks (VPN) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies have been widely used to put in place remote online access solutions. Then came the challenges of deploying, managing and expanding these environments to several hundreds, even thousands, of simultaneous users. The sharp increase in the number of security incidents, network intrusions and ransomware attacks has also been a challenge.
Toward a new generation of telework solutions
By working closely with Microsoft, Converge and VMware teams, we are striving to innovate and offer our clients a series of next-generation telework solutions, for example, by combining MS Surface devices with Windows Virtual Desktop or the VMware Horizon suite. We can thus simplify managing, deploying and securing virtual desktop services. We are also creating DaaS (Desktop as a Service) infrastructures, in local mode or in the Cloud, that can fully integrate with existing work environments and applications. Thanks to our partners’ technologies, we are building secure, virtual collaboration environments for your entire staff, whether they are full-time, part-time or external consultants who work on your network.
Our team is particularly focused on security. Microsoft and VMware offer many integrated technologies, from authentication to malware and virus detection, to network and system access control, to sensitive information encryption and data backup. By using Microsoft Surface devices as access points to connect to Horizon virtual workspaces, both employees and IT teams emerge as winners.
Understanding how the VDI approach works
Here is an example of how MS Surface and VMware Horizon technologies fit in with your daily lifestyle. You leave for work in the morning, stopping for a few minutes in a café to read the news and answer a few quick emails. You make the most of your chic, portable and light personal computer in tablet mode, as well as the stylus pen to annotate a few important tasks for the day.
Then, you settle yourself in your living room for a 30-minute team meeting using Teams in videoconference mode. Afterward, you set up for the day at the office or at home. You plug in the multi-monitor module and USB accessories to really immerge yourself in the comfort of your personal work environment. When connecting to your business systems, your Surface device is transformed into a secure access terminal to your company’s VMware Horizon VDI environment. That’s the versatility of the solution, taking mere seconds to convert from a stylish, enjoyable and flexible personal computer to a high-performance, standardized and secure business solution.
- When users authenticate themselves, a connection context is then associated with them, taking into account their location, the type of connectivity, their access rights and user profile, which follows them anywhere, anytime.
- Secure Web access allows them to connect to their Horizon virtual workspace, a type of virtual bubble in the Cloud that reproduces the same experience as a personal workstation, or even better.
- This virtual space is accessible anywhere, anytime via the Internet (a little like Netflix).
- According to different architecture scenarios, this Horizon VDI infrastructure can be based in your own datacentre, or be 100% hosted on Azure.
- Your account, profile and data security are therefore managed by your IT team through automated software policies, behind firewalls and your company’s other security mechanisms.
- Data that you manage within this virtual space is secure and automatically backed up according to processes defined by your company.
Unlike a traditional computer, we can dynamically increase this virtual workspace’s capacity, storage, performance and memory in just a few clicks. That’s the beauty of the Cloud’s elasticity!
- The Horizon portal brings together, under a single access point, all of your applications (Cloud, Web, Windows, legacy) by remembering your profile, passwords and preferences.
- An AppStore principle allows you to easily install your company’s applications and services yourself or request access.
- In this connected mode (VDI – Horizon), the Surface acts as a simple access terminal. No business data is stored locally, something that greatly reduces risk in the current business environment.
Why choose MS Surface as an access station?
It’s the small details that matter when it comes to choosing your own personal computer. Here’s what caught our attention about the MS Surface for business:
- the quality of integration between Surface devices, the Horizon suite and MS Office 365 productivity tools;
- integration with the MS Teams videoconference and collaboration platform, which can operate in local mode or in VDI mode connected with Horizon;
- multi-factor authentication, security directly integrated with Surface firmware, Windows Hello and encryption directly integrated with TPM, and simplified profile and identity management through Azure Active Directory in the Cloud;
- simplified update management and deployment tasks (workstations and system pilots) through Windows Autopilot, Windows Update for Business and Microsoft Intune;
- screen quality, multi-monitor support, brightness and battery life;
- high-definition quality cameras, studio quality microphones and Dolby® sound with ambient noise cancellation technologies – all little things that become important when you spend two to three hours a day on videoconference.
In short, both VMware and Microsoft are constantly endeavouring to innovate and perfect the telework experience for users. At the same time, they are also offering companies solutions and tools to help them secure their essential data and simplify technology management in the field.
Benefits for our clients
Below are a few comments from Microsoft and VMware clients who have taken the digital shift by storm since the beginning of the crisis. Here’s how technology contributes to the success and productivity of their teams.
Examples of company productivity benefits
“In only a few weeks, we adapted to the new COVID and telework realities. We are now more productive than ever!”
“Employees love it. Especially the Access Anywhere, Team Meetings, ScreenShare, WhiteBoarding and Surface Pen functionalities that make collaboration easier than ever.”
“We are still in the middle of COVID, but we’re seeing employee productivity gains of 10 to 20%, due in large part to the new tools that allow them to be more productive every day.”
“The combined MS Surface + VMware Horizon solution has unparalleled versatility for both home life and work with the office team!”
“Our employees are clearly more connected, and are quicker to answer emails and execute their tasks in general.”
“We’re already noticing improved collaboration between our departments… it creates an environment that encourages idea sharing and synergies between teams, even across borders.”
Simplifying your IT teams’ efforts
“On average, a new Surface device can be configured, secured, connected to the Horizon environment and ready to operate on the network in only 20 minutes.”
“ …about a 25% decrease in the total number of support calls and incidents reported.”
“This allowed us to reinforce our system security at all levels, and especially to reduce the risks in case of attack, loss, theft or virus on a client workstation.”
“Workstations, updates and security patches are now all managed and centralized under VMware and the Microsoft tools.”
If you would like more information on our Microsoft technology solutions and services, feel free to send us a message.
Thanks to our partners
Solution Architect – Systems, virtualization, Cloud
PCD Solutions, A Converge Company