Ability to work anywhere, with a virtual desktop environment (disclaimer internet required)

With technology constantly changing, maintaining the complexities of a physical desktop infrastructure can be labour-intensive and costly depending on the size of the IT estate. Employees need to work remotely, require out of hours access to corporate data and applications, increases the demands on the network. Changes in customer expectations and the era of the 24/7 marketplace also adds to the demands. So, it is necessary to review IT infrastructures regularly to ensure they are supporting the organisational needs and meeting the requirements.

Bye bye physical desktops?

One of the ways to save time and money on migrations and management is to just get rid of the desktops (not literally) and move to a ‘Virtual Desktop Infrastructure’ or VDI.
Imagine you have an estate of over 100 physical desktops and they all need to be upgraded to a new operating system, you would need to work on each desktop individually to upgrade it, taking up a lot of your time. But, if you utilise VDI technology you would only need to upgrade it in one place and deploy it to the rest of the estate.

VDI repurposes PC devices into thin clients and transforms a traditional desktop Hosted Virtual Desktopsenvironment into a low footprint virtualised environment, offering flexibility and scalability allowing employees the ability to access their desktop or corporate user account remotely, without the worry of data confidentiality or unmanaged devices on the network. It also unifies and centralises management where IT administrators can manage users and applications with ease.

Implemented internally it will require expertise in order to plan, deploy and managed the virtualised infrastructure. It would also require upfront capital expenditure for things like storage, thin clients, virtualisation software etc. Another option is to use a Cloud-Hosted Virtual Desktop environment provided by a Managed Services Provider (MSP), it will provide all the VDI benefits, but with less hassle or you could employ a provider to carry out the migration for the organisation.

For more information on VDI or Hosted Virtual Desktop services please contact us today

Advertisements

Remote Working… The Trend of Mobility in the Workplace

Forrester Research suggests 95% of workers are using at least one-self purchased device for work, which can help explain the blurring between work and play, and the growing adoption of BYOD within businesses.

But, when it comes to Workforce Mobility, BYOD is only a part of it, as TechTarget and Computer Weekly IT priorities survey, found 67% of enterprise plan to issue employees with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in 2014 – suggesting that employers are also starting to see the benefits of remote working, by empowering employees with the ability to choose where they work.

Remote Working

Working anywhere, anytime…

By offering remote working or telecommuting it can remove recruitment geographic limits, employers can employ the very best and employees can work for who they want without worrying about the location of the offices – the ability to be able to work anywhere and workplace flexibility can help to attract and retain staff. With the amount of communication tools available cross-boarders conference calls can all be cost-effective.

Researchers at Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive and have less sick days. The increase in productivity could be because it provides employees with the freedom of working from a personalised space, a space that can support individual workflow and processes, no compulsory commute (which can sometimes be stressful!!), a space that has no interruptions from colleagues which in turn can increase job satisfaction.

By offering employees the option for flexible working it displays trust (although there will be times where this is abused). Employees would appreciate the flexibility of tailoring their work-life balance = they would be as focused and productive. In theory. But, when working from home there may be distractions due to domestic circumstances which could have opposite effect so, its not something that is suitable for everyone.

Not everyone sees workplace mobility in a positive light – In 2013 Yahoo ended its remote working program and BestBuy quickly followed suit. Both argued employees working together within one building will promote interaction, creativity and the sharing of information – which is a valid point. This idea is supported by Google where Patrick Pichette CFO commented “The surprising question we get is: ‘How many people telecommute at Google?’ And our answer is: ‘As few as possible’”.

The lack of uptake of remote working could be that many organizations lack trust with their employees, they have an innate belief that performance and productivity can be measured within office buildings, as Managers can see physical presence – the question is, just because someone is sitting there, does it really mean they are being productive? The answer can be debatable.

Even though there is a low uptake in remote working currently, as technology and user habits change, ‘Work Mobility’ and ‘Flexible Working’ is predicted to grow. Leading to a popular view that work is something not confined to a particular building, it is an activity that can be conducted anytime, anywhere.

Of course certain jobs are not suited to remote working like manning a production line and there are a number of disadvantages. In short mobility in the workplace can be beneficial

Secure Remote Working Netshield

Working remotely? Make sure its done securely.

for businesses and individuals but, before the decision is made an assessment of suitability is required. If workplace mobility is something that is suited to different roles and organisational culture then, it must be planned, deployed and managed securely.

Take control with Endpoint Security

An IT network may have a Next Generation Firewall(s) in place to help keep out the malicious attacks but, it is advisable to have a layered approach to IT network security, like adding a layer of endpoint security.

Similar to Next Generation Firewalls, ‘Endpoint Security’ is an enhancement of traditional anti-virus as it is an all-in-one security suite where it will protect user devices (endpoints) on the network from viruses, worms, malware and offer security enforcement features and much, much more. Whereas anti-virus is designed simply too detect and destroy viruses and worms.

Why Endpoint? I hear you ask – Advances in technology has led to the changes in the corporate network demands i.e. increase usage of social media and employees working remotely, through the internet or different devices. So, it is becoming a critical element for corporations because it offers that extra layer of security by protecting the end-user devices and offer more control for the IT administrators to the IT network.

Some of the Advantages of Endpoint Security:-

  • Provides Security and Protection for devices
  • Central Management Control Console
  • Ability to Set and Enforce Security Policies
  • Web Content Control
  • Application Control
  • Email Protection and Encryption
  • Mobile Security
  • Anti-Virus and Malware
  • Etc.

But, you need to keep in mind ‘Endpoint Security suites’ features will vary depending on the brand. So, businesses need to decide which are the most important features and evaluate the different Endpoint offerings before deployment.

For advise on Endpoint Security Suites, contact us today.

Mobile Device Management – Netshield New Service Announcement

On the 15th April 2013, Netshield highlights the importance of mobile data security and protection,by launching a new service – ‘Mobile Device Management’ (MDM).

This new addition to their comprehensive portfolio of Managed IT Services will help businesses lower potential data security risks involved with corporate mobile device usage and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies in the workplace.

Richard Carty Commercial Director of Netshield commented ‘Due to the growing demand by our customers for ‘Workforce Mobility’ Netshield recognised the need for MDM; as on average employees carries 3 devices with them and working on them while on the move, which can increase IT security vulnerabilities.’

‘Mobile Device Management is essential to today’s businesses. Our new service will enable our customers to work anywhere in the world without worrying about potential data security breaches or business data falling into the wrong hands if the device is lost or stolen’.

For more information on the service visit our website or call us on 0845 603 5552

Corporate BYOD: The Benefits and Risks

One in four devices used for work are now either smartphones or tablets, and on average, an individual carries or has access to at least three devices. It is not surprising that the ability to work anywhere and anytime has led to the growth of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) – part of the broader consumerization of IT trend – where employees are using personally-owned devices for business purposes.

IT security - Netshield

‘1 in 4 devices used for work are now mobile devices’

BYOD can provide a number of benefits to organizations of any size: enabling a mobile workforce, improving productivity, reducing costs, etc. It offers employees flexibility, providing them the ability to have a work-life balance that is personalized. Although the BYOD trend brings benefits, it also has corporate security implications.

IT departments often perceive personal devices as a corporate risk, because it is a foreign object to the IT infrastructure, with an unknown history, unknown level of security measures and no control over the level of access.

Corporations can take the stance of prohibiting personal devices, but it would not solve the issue, as employees are often undeterred by security policies and access corporate data anyway, which means it will be unmonitored and even more of a security threat to the IT network.

It has been predicted that by 2018, 70% of professionals will conduct their work on personal devices. Companies need to embrace the trend by taking a structured approach to BYOD with detailed policies in place. A non-structured approach can potentially weaken a company’s data security barrier, cause compliance issues and increase vulnerability to cyber crimes.

Corporations also need to assess the benefits and tailor the policies to the company culture and regulatory requirements. For example, IBM adopted a BYOD policy, but they banned the use of Dropbox, a cloud storage provider, and Siri, Apple’s personal assistant service, due to security concerns.

BYOD policies need to be carefully considered and implemented. Employees must be educated about the importance of data security and incident reporting; procedures must be in place if a device containing business data is lost or stolen, as it can have huge data security implications. Data security needs to be built into the corporate culture.

Protection from data breaches need to be considered when implementing BYOD, like having a mobile management system in place that would allow an IT administrator to carry out tasks such as enforcing corporate security policies or wiping the device if it was lost or stolen. Ensuring devices have authentication processes and encryption is also advisable.

BYOD and the mobile workforce trends are set to grow, despite the security concerns. If BYOD deployment is executed with a structured approach, with sufficient policies and security measures in place and employees are educated on the importance of data security, corporations will benefit from BYOD in the long term.

If you require more information on BYOD implementation and security please contact us. This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of AmCham Connect.