A quick and easy way to provide remote access for your employees during COVID-19

 In AWS, Azure, Cloud, Virtualization

Due to recent COVID-19 health directives, many companies, governments, and schools need to urgently provide secure, reliable, and scalable remote access for their users. While some organizations might already have the infrastructure needed to support a large remote workforce, others are now scrambling to stand up solutions to promote business continuity and maintain productivity.

For these organizations, cloud-hosted desktop technology is a proven, rapidly deployable solution that bypasses the delays typical with on-premises infrastructure acquisition and configuration. Let’s explore.

The benefits of cloud-hosted desktop technology

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been providing cloud-hosted desktop capabilities including content creation, shared storage, and collaboration since 2013 – first with Amazon WorkSpaces and more recently with AppStream. Microsoft Azure offers cloud-hosted desktops as well with Windows Virtual Desktop.

These solutions provide advantages to organizations looking for secure, managed, and powerful desktops (e.g., high-end graphics) on a variety of user devices. Repeatable architecture frameworks and standardized templates are readily available to run traditional desktop apps with ease.

The benefits include:

  • Rapid deployment of desktop environments for remote access users and elasticity to scale to needs
  • Support for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives, including thin clients, laptops, tablets, or smartphones
  • Identity federation that can leverage existing app credentials (i.e., from on-prem Active Directory)
  • Support for demanding graphics and required network traffic, eliminating reliance on a local PC device with robust local resources or an on-prem virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
  • Improved security that comes with hosting OS, data, and apps on up-to-date cloud server platforms versus potentially vulnerable end-user devices
  • Availability of compliance offerings to meet HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR requirements
  • The ability to avoid hardware obsolescence and reduce provisioning, patching, and maintenance (plus associated costs) of the desktop platform or of an on-prem VDI infrastructure

User and administration considerations

Even with these benefits, rollout of a cloud-hosted desktop solution still requires planning and preparation to avoid user frustration and loss of productivity.

For instance, users will expect their office apps to be available whenever they need them and from wherever they are using them. Also, the full desktop experience requires support for USB keys, printers, and cloud storage like OneDrive.

Solutions differ in their support of these features. This requires scripts that will pilot desktops to be deployed and push the correct profiles.

Discover cloud-hosted desktop solutions for your organization

Cloud-hosted desktops can address the need to rapidly deploy remote work and education capabilities. These solutions can reduce complexity and support burdens compared with on-prem PC desktops or VDI. However, they also require proper architecture, monitoring, and management.

Both AWS and Azure have offerings to assist customers with their remote access needs during this global health crisis, and SHI, as a top-tier partner with both, can work with you to plan, design, build, and support these solutions so you and your users can realize the benefits as quickly as possible, at lower risk, with increased satisfaction. In addition, to offset the cost of an initial pilot or proof of concept, AWS and Azure offer multiple funding avenues to SHI customers that engage with our professional services.

Contact your SHI account executive to learn more about how your organization can benefit from cloud-hosted desktops and apps and how SHI can support you during the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Morse contributed to this post.

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