Today, the office is no longer just a physical place – it is a collection of people who need to work together from wherever they are, whether that is working from a home office, in a coffee shop, from the airport, in a hotel, or anywhere they can connect to the internet. Businesses must partner with experts who can bring together their essential productivity and communication tools into a single, secure solution, fine-tuned for the hybrid workforce. Finding ways to integrate disparate systems from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and VMware, while filling in the gaps, is critical to business longevity.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a popular way to help businesses achieve that goal. By creating a VDI environment, either within an internal data center or through a third-party hosted solution, companies have a secure, centralized location for their operating systems, business software and integral business applications like their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, 3rd party billing system and key applications, while allowing access from virtual desktops and mobile devices from anywhere in the world.
Select Internal or External Management
The first step in making the decision about a VDI environment is determining whether you want to manage this infrastructure within an internal data system or through a third-party cloud-based provider.
Choosing the internal option can give you more control of the operating systems, software, and applications that are managed. You will be responsible for both the physical location of the equipment and its security, as well as authentication and verification systems. It is critical that your IT team stays on top of the maintenance and upgrades required to keep the platform secure and up to date so that application interoperability is maintained. Your IT team manages both the initial and ongoing expenses of the infrastructure as well.
Working with a third-party expert usually means paying a monthly, per-user subscription while forgoing any initial capital investment. Although you relinquish some control, your partner is now responsible for maintenance and upgrades. Since this is their core business, third-party vendors often invest more in staying up to date on the latest Software, OS, and application developments, which can then be passed on to you. It can also be easier to scale up and down if your business experiences peak or seasonal needs that require temporary employees.
Prioritize How you Will Use VDI
Many solutions are available, so it’s important to understand how VDI will be utilized within your company. For example, if you want to support remote employees, you’ll want to think about what kind of devices these employees will be using. Will your organization be providing thin clients or other virtual devices? Or do you want employees to use their own devices while maintaining access and security to your systems?
If you have a large, multi-faceted staff, consider whether you’ll be supporting and connecting a hybrid workforce with both onsite and remote employees as well as the needs that arise with that arrangement. Are you running task-based work or shift-based work? Will your business run around the clock, demanding that your system be operational on a continuous basis? If you’re operating a call center, for instance, this may put special technological needs higher up the priority list.
When your primary goal of leveraging a VDI environment is more operational in nature, such as reducing overall business expenses, ensuring data security, providing controlled contractor or partner access, or supporting more complex, specialized applications, the features you require may have to be customized to meet your specific business needs and this must also be taken into consideration.
Consider Specific Needs and Capabilities
Depending on the size and culture of your organization, you may require varying degrees of oversight over your employees. Some solutions offer a web-based dashboard that provides detailed reports as well as real-time alerts to help you ensure that your team is as productive as you expect. If you have a trusted, driven workforce, this may not be as critical in your solution selection.
In addition, the size and capability of your IT team may play a significant role in your decision. If your organization already has an expert team on board with bandwidth to manage a VDI environment, this may be the best choice. If you do not, however, it may not be worth the challenge or expense of finding the appropriately skilled talent required to support the internal VDI platform, especially in the current market where qualified labor is in short supply.
Along the same lines, you’ll want to look at your existing infrastructure and whether you have already invested in servers, licensing, storage, and networking services. It may not be worth the additional investment, particularly if you do not have the staff to manage an internal system.
Evaluate Features and Options
From core features to actual deployment needs, VDI environments can vary greatly. If you’re going the internal data center route, be sure to evaluate whether a specific VDI solution can be implemented on your existing platforms or if your platform will require a brand-new configuration instead of “proprietary hypervisor”.
Look closely at the security capabilities offered to see if the internal or cloud-based solutions provide adequate protection. If you’re using a third-party vendor, what kind of multi-factor authentication, tokenization, and recovery protocols exist? For internal VDI platforms, will you need to add things like endpoint or identity management solutions or virus scanning?
Deciding to choose a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provider leads to additional questions about size and capabilities of these vendors. Be sure you select a partner that can scale and grow with your needs. Have a comprehensive conversation early about whether your DaaS provider has a network of partners that can reduce overall costs while providing additional features. Discuss service levels and select a package that provides the level of service that your IT and team members may need, particularly if you’re operating a remote workforce that works at unusual hours. Be sure you match your DaaS capabilities with your use case requirements.
Evolve IP is designed to advance today’s hybrid workplace. We partner with IT professionals to bring together their essential productivity and communication tools into a single, secure solution. By integrating systems from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and Citrix, and adding value where needed, we are improving the experience for both employees and customers, while centralizing technology management. Choosing the best VDI environment means selecting a solution that’s agnostic to locations, tools, and partners, over time. Pick a solution that makes the future of work better for everyone. Contact Evolve IP today for a free consultation.