Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery have traditionally been the afterthought, the unwanted, but necessary discussion that IT would have to have. Those responsible for it weren’t exactly welcomed, they were the unwanted salesmen peddling their wares, spreading doom and gloom with their “what if” scenarios. It is not until these scenarios strike that their value is realised. Today, as we find ourselves living through one of those ‘what if’ scenarios, we’re looking at digital workspace options for business continuity and disaster recovery through a very different lens, its value undeniable.

Pandemics and the role of technology

As we move forward, technology will no doubt find it has a bigger role to play in the prevention of pandemics.  It has the power to predict and detect viruses, ensuring the brakes can be applied to stop their spread before they reach pandemic status. 

For now, however, with populations in enforced isolation, organisations are looking at technology to solve more immediate challenges, like giving workers access to the data and tools they need to continue working remotely.

Calling Business’s Emergency Responders - IT Teams

Right now, IT teams are having to work harder than ever as this crisis has put them on the frontline of business support.  All these remote workers are going to need equipment to work from and the stash of standby laptops that haven’t been turned on in over 12 months are all going to need updating and handing out, which is a problem in its own right under social isolation and lock-down measures. But what if there was a way for all these people to work remotely using their own devices, securely?

IT departments have long understood the value of the digital workspace

Since the early years of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that grew from just building a desktop image in an ESX environment instead of a server, to the instant clones technology we have today, IT departments have understood the value of maintaining control of the end user’s desktop, both the operating system as well as the data it accesses and keeps. A virtual desktop offers that stability to the support staff and a flexible desktop, accessible from any device, for the end user.

Bringing quantifiable cost savings and efficiency gains, the rise in popularity of the virtual desktop is unsurprising.  Organisations also found the virtual desktop created other benefits too. For example, if a device was lost, damaged or left at home, an employee could be given a replacement and still be able to access all files and applications they had previously been using. With a completely virtualised environment, the organisation attained a better view into the health and security of connected devices. Organisations found themselves able to easily swap out and fix compromised devices without interrupting the workflow of users. Also, the organisation could optimise and provide a more consistent experience for all its users across a range of devices, making remote working a possibility.  Additionally, with remote working a possibility, the search for talent no longer had to be confined to an easy commuting distance to the office.

In a recent poll it was found that a digital employee experience is a major influence in attracting and retaining talent.

73% of people agree that the flexibility of tools (e.g. technology , apps, devices etc.) that I might need to use for work, would influence my decision to apply or accept a position at a company
"The flexibility of tools (e.g. technology , apps, devices etc.) that I might need to use for work, would influence my decision to apply or accept a position at a company"

Remote working – from nice to have to necessity

Of course, at the moment, businesses are responding to a global pandemic and remote working is no longer a nice to have, it’s business critical.  The question is, what is the best VDI solution for a company?

From On-Premises to Desktop-as-a-Service – there are options

The first option that IT teams tend to consider is a stack of servers in their data centre with a ton of SSD and perpetual license costs that will present a significant investment every 3-5 years plus support costs.  But, this kind of ‘on-premises’ solution is just one of many out there.

A hybrid solution spreads the responsibility between the vendor and the customer with the vendor being responsible for the management plane and the customer being responsible for the workload resources. This offers a good split not only of responsibility for support, but between CAPEX and OPEX.

Alternatively, a total cloud hosted option is possible and is now referred to as Desktop-as-a-Service or DaaS. This is the most flexible of all the services and can be the quickest to deploy in the case of an emergency.  It can also be costly if not sized correctly. The DaaS service also has multiple options as the underlying resources can be hosted on differing public cloud offerings, presenting cost benefits according to what options are required.

There are configuration choices too

The differing options brings us to the subject of configuration. Unlike the normal desktop/laptop solution where everything runs locally on the one hard disk, for an optimal experience, a VDI solution breaks out the OS layer from the Application and the data.

On top of that you can layer device management, paving the way for the next step, a digital workspace. Solutions like VMware Workspace ONE provide a true bring your own device (BYOD) experience, allowing access to all your applications and data from any device in a secure and convenient manner. The management systems know whether you are using a corporate device or a personal one and apply security policies accordingly. Corporate data is kept within a secure, ring fenced area on personal devices that can be remotely wiped if needed and without affecting any personal data.

A single portal access provides users with access to all their allocated applications and provides a single sign-on capability so that once signed in there is no need to sign into any other application even if it is from a different vendor.

Digital Workspace Options business continuity - Single Portal Access

No matter where you are on your digital workspace journey, help is at hand

Whether you have some infrastructure in place, Office 365 or consider yourself advanced, but are seeing issues and want to resolve those before taking the next steps, we can help. Xtravirt have a range of packaged services to meet your needs, from planning workshops to Proof of Concept deployments and health checks to upgrade services. We can assist with migrations to Office 365 or jump starting your Workspace ONE deployment.

Happy to ‘virtually’ meet you

Xtravirt are one of VMware’s top tier service delivery partners.  Our proven expertise and track record of success has meant we have attained all 5 VMware Master Services Competencies and are one of a handful of Principal Partners for Digital Workspace and VMware Cloud on AWS in the UK.

If you would like the opportunity to discuss your organisation’s digital workspace needs with one of our specialists, why not request a free one-hour virtual meeting?  Simply drop us an email to [email protected] and we’ll set up a call.