Hardware and the post pandemic working world

As the UK stutters and stumbles towards a post-freedom day “full reopening”, companies across the land are still struggling with changing regulations. Peoples’ expectations also change in regards to remote work, safe workplaces as COVID continues to spread, and productivity in this new hybrid model of employment.

Another significant factor many companies will have to contend with is the question of hardware distribution for people working from home. Private laptop use is regarded by many as inadequate in terms of overall security.

From a security aspect, there are a host of issues that come with private laptop use for company business. As the threat of network compromises grows daily, businesses need to do everything they can to secure their extended network, limit any potential damage for their staff and customers and mitigate any future cybersecurity issues. Ransomware is rife – a technical solution is looking to virtualisation of desktops, thus, limiting the typical desktop vulnerabilities.

It is worth revisiting the Thin Client vs fat client debate. Our modern, data-saturated climate requires employers to take a lead in protecting not only their own liability, but also to help staff navigate this new normal and to improve their services. That will involve some investment in hardware and digital network. There are a number of virtual solutions, but here we will focus on the available Microsoft offerings.

The benefits of Virtual desktops / thin clients in a Pandemic-stricken world.

Thin Client network and hardware ecosystems are nothing new, but they are having a reinvigorated moment as we adjust working practice in the wake of the pandemic. They offer many benefits including significantly lower maintenance costs and seem ideal for enterprise businesses moving to remote work.

Also, as companies rapidly digitise, reduce reliance on legacy tech and move into the cloud, thin clients should represent a sort of “Tech 1.5” arrangement for companies on a budget or slowly adjusting their server/support set up.

Use of Thin Clients reduces costs in hardware on site, either in the office or at home. It is a simpler computer, the actual number crunching is done in a Virtual Machine, the TC merely provides access to the VM.

In short, Virtual desktops / Thin clients offer:

  1. Centralised server systems,
  2. Virtual desktop infrastructure
  3. Manageability and scalability
  4. A much more manageable network security apparatus
  5. Shared terminal services
  6. Secure browser based approaches
  7. App/Service/Connection customisation

Are “fat clients” dead?

The attraction of fat client setups, desktops and laptops, are in their independence and processing power. For specialised roles or managerial roles, for example, limited access to data may work against your company goals. To that end CIOs and IT managers need to take account of:

Company and User Need

No one team or department will need the same data access as another. Some need access to everything. Look at your team requirements clinically and holistically, consider the knock-on effects of “locking out” teams via thin client setups, and make changes accordingly.

Preparation

IT managers need to make sure every stakeholder understands thin client protocols, limits and costs. When you’re fundamentally changing how workers access certain elements of your network you will get push back. Collaboration and clear communication channels are required to make thin client deployment work.

Configuration and Training

Top- up training will be required with staff used to more flexible, personal PC setups, and more traditional Operating Systems, after a transition to Thin Client working.

What is Windows Virtual Desktop?

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is the desktop and app virtualisation service that runs in Microsoft Azure.

If you’re new to Windows Virtual Desktop –or Azure Virtual Desktop – WVD enables access to desktop applications from virtually any device with internet connection.

Depending on your business need, users can access either a full virtual desktop or individual applications – whether Microsoft’s Office applications, or SAGE for the finance team, or bespoke software, for example.

The solution works across PC, Mac, iOS, Android and this technology allows for an individual to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) if needed – without compromising security. The business can also define access time periods – such as whether it’s needed 24 x 7, or only for core office hours to be able to implement the most cost-effective solution.