Remote working is increasingly being enabled by technologies such as virtual desktop solutions which allow people to work from any location in the world and access their emails, files and desktops using any device. The attractions for businesses are two fold – greater workforce flexibility and also cost savings, with reduced investment in IT and less administration.
Yet, moving to a virtual desktop infrastructure is a major consideration involving the outsourcing of data and the IT infrastructure, storage and security to a third party provider. The provider will host and manage all the IT, the data backup, disaster and recovery and help desk support – it must be a relationship of trust.
This solution allows companies to safety introduce bring your own device to work policy. With employees often using a variety of devices including tablets, laptops and smart phones, many companies have become increasingly about data security breaches if the devices were to get lost or stolen. There have many high profile incidents of data breaches because of laptops left on trains. With a hosted desktop solution no files or data are stored on devices which lowers the security risks and with greater numbers of employees using consumer apps, they can use their own devices to access their work desktops and switch between their personal and work data easily.
So how do organisations create a virtual desktop strategy without compromising security, network capacity or IT performance? One thing to stress is the importance of mapping business objectives, plus current and future remote working IT requirements from the start, before deciding on the right technology and the right provider.
Considerations when developing a VDI Strategy
Some organisations are already using solutions like Dropbox to share files and enable remote working. However, as Dropbox requires people to pull down files it can be slow and there have been cases of it being hacked. Google apps are also popular, but one of the draw backs of Google apps is that people don’t know where their data is being stored.
For companies to have confidence in the security of their data, they should work with an accredited cloud computing provider with a UK data centre to ensure security is watertight. Organisations need to check for accreditations too such as ISO 9001, ISO 27001 for IT security and ISO 14001, which is focused on environmental standards.
Other questions to consider are the level of disaster and recovery needed, time scales for implementation and when it will take place and the details of the project migration plan.
Organisations also need to be wary of the contracts they sign and read the small print. There have been cases of companies signing up to fixed term contracts only to have these revert back to the start date when a new user is added. Needless to say, such contracts should be avoided at all costs.
One business that has reaped the benefits of remote working is Waterloo Quarter BID is a business-led organisation that works with and for businesses in the Waterloo district of London. This small organisation is funded by its members and delivers a range of projects for them aimed at improving their economic performance and their physical trading environment.
Waterloo Quarter embraced cloud computing five years ago when it moved to a larger office in Waterloo. Waterloo Quarter is a small business that couldn’t afford to spend time sorting out IT or employ a technical expert but the nature of its business meant that the company’s main focus had to be on delivering excellent customer service and not sorting out IT issues such as performing data back-ups or worrying about server space running out.
Cloud computing is not going away and neither is the demand for remote working. With the option to save money, reduce their IT administration and offer their employees greater working flexibility– it would seem foolish not to embrace ‘the cloud’ with open arms.