Expert insights to enable your future ready workforce
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How 2020 rewrote the digital workspace story
As CIOs and CTOs plan their IT priorities for 2021, it is anticipated that workspace transformation will remain high on the agenda. The interim solutions put in place as quick-fix measures in response to the global pandemic will need to be replaced with sustainable, scalable, and secure digital workspace solutions to support the long-term adoption of more flexible working practices.
With an extensive track record of success guiding organisations through their digital workspace transformations, cloud consulting and managed services business, Xtravirt, have unparalleled expertise designing, deploying, and maintaining VMware’s Future Ready Workforce suite of digital workspace solutions including VMware Workspace ONE and Horizon platforms. This has led them to be amongst the first VMware service delivery partners in the world to achieve the Master Services Competency for Digital Workspace and VMware Principal Partner Status.
In this article, consultants from Xtravirt share their expertise and insights to provide answers to the 10 questions most frequently asked by organisations evaluating VMware Digital Workspace technologies:
“When an organisation comes to us for guidance on what shape their workspace modernisation project should take, chances are we’ve already got the blueprint!
From ensuring vital information is available to front line NHS workers via mobile devices, to helping universities and colleges provide students remote access for continued learning and keeping businesses from all sectors working through a global pandemic, Xtravirt have digital workspace transformation covered!”Andy Hine
Head of Technical Pre-Sales, Xtravirt
What is digital workspace?
In simple terms, it is a group of technologies sitting across four distinct pillars that can be adopted individually or as a whole to provide users with the tools they need to work productively and securely from any device, anywhere at any time.
four pillars of digital workspace
Enable users with access to the applications and data they need regardless of whether they are in a corporate datacentre, web-based or Software-as-a-Service.
Provide standardised, virtual or physical desktops with a consistent user experience, rich multimedia content, automated provisioning and management.
Centralised visibility, control and governance of PC’s, smartphones, tablets and rugged devices across an end user estate providing secure access and compliance in line with corporate standards.
Compliance and control through anti-virus, endpoint protection and software-defined networks providing flexible secure connectivity to key corporate services.
“The first thing we do when opening conversations about digital workspace with any organisation is to determine exactly what it means to them, and, most importantly, what the business drivers are. Most frequently, customers want to improve user experience, increase productivity, and make flexible working a secure and viable option for the majority”Christelle Heritier
Account Manager, Xtravirt
What are the key benefits of an investment in VMware Digital Workspace solutions for my organisation?
VMware Digital Workspace solutions offer a wholly unified foundation that spans from cloud to device delivering a completely secure and coherent user experience everywhere. This seamless integration between all elements of the VMware technology stack means that your IT teams are able to operate at scale, enable whole departments at a time, change configuration and roll out changes across the whole company in a controlled and trackable way reducing time-to-productivity for new employees and hardware. Less time waiting for new kit, increased flexibility, a selection of devices and enabling remote working lead to improved employee retention and recruitment.
With the advent of subscription public cloud offerings, even the smallest organisation can take advantage of modern digital workspace solutions.
With 34%* of workers currently working from home and 95% of data breaches coming from endpoints , it’s more important than ever to have a keen eye on user access and capabilities. VMware solutions operate under a zero-trust model and supports 2 factor authentication and single sign on, enabling quick and secure identity and access management.
The increase in remote working has placed huge pressure on bandwidth and throughput requirements for traditional VPN solutions. Adopting a digital workspace solution means that the application data never leaves the corporate datacentre. This significantly reduces the pressure on the remote access infrastructure, increasing performance for users and reducing the risk of down time.
“As well as the confidence that using a trusted and proven industry leader brings, VMware Digital Workspace solutions bring something much more tangible to the table – integration!”Matthew Tupper
Senior Consultant, Xtravirt
What are the key offerings in the VMware Digital Workspace solution portfolio?
The solutions within VMware’s Digital Workspace portfolio are best understood when aligned to the four pillars of the digital workspace outlined in question one:
Workspace ONE Access provides a portal for users to access the data and application services that they need. The ability to deliver a mobile-style experience with clearly published applications can be used to offer easy access to published business applications regardless of where they are hosted.
Flexibility to support shared, server-published applications and desktops alongside packaging and app isolation gives administrators the tools needed to efficiently deliver the required experience with effective management controls.
Workspace ONE UEM powered by AirWatch is a mobile device management (MDM) solution that governs and controls endpoints, whether that’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or corporate. Self-service device registration, remote-wipe and the ability to mandate configuration settings simplifies the steps to achieving compliance with internal policies and regulatory requirements.
VMware Horizon and Horizon Cloud provides standardised ‘cloned’ desktops to deliver applications or business use cases that require a full operating system to work. Installed in a customer datacentre or combined with VMware Cloud on AWS for a fully cloud-enabled solution, the Horizon Pod architecture enables a straightforward approach to scaling as requirements increase.
Carbon Black is a next generation endpoint security solution, proactively protecting your environment by blocking and controlling viruses. It enables you to protect data and files by intercepting threats before they execute using a mix of heuristics and real time threat patterns.
VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud uses software to create a secure network connection from a remote office or home-based user to the corporate datacentre instantly providing the security of the corporate network. No longer requiring the installation of a dedicated company circuit, SD-WAN can use any existing internet access for a fast and cost-efficient way of securing a distributed workforce.
How do we get started, is there a set path to follow?
“Before embarking on any digital workspace modernisation programme, the importance of the discovery phase cannot be understated”Curtis Brown
Lead Consultant, Xtravirt
Over the years, Xtravirt have perfected the art of discovery, and our feasibility assessments and discovery workshops dive deep into two core components. We begin with documenting and fully understanding the current state of end user IT (endpoint devices, applications and data delivery, remote access, locations). With this context, the business outcome, as defined by a broad set of requirements including vital use cases and target operating model, can then be comprehensively mapped out to form the baseline for the future solutions.
We’d prefer a more collaborative and flexible working model instead of dedicated desks for staff members. What’s the best approach to take?
Deploying a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution enables staff to use any desk in the office and work from other locations with ease whilst maintaining maximum productivity and security of company data. Users can obtain access through a variety of devices including laptops, tablets and Chromebooks as well as giving IT the option of reprovisioning old desktops and locating them on hot desks as shared client machines.
Customers can use VMware Horizon to create a pool of Virtual Desktops. Desktops can be assigned to a user or as part of a floating pool and can even be created on-demand as user’s log in maximising use of resources. The user persona and work in progress is maintained dynamically giving the consistent look and feel of a dedicated machine, much like using a laptop or desktop PC.
Giving users the ability to switch between devices, using the right one for the function they are performing at any point in time enables new approaches to working. Choosing a tablet device for collaboration and moving to a desktop with large monitor for document preparation are great examples of how this can be applied in practice. With user experience, settings and work in progress following seamlessly as the user switches or travels from office to home, downtime and frustration is kept to a minimum.
With a structured engagement approach that always begins with a discovery phase capturing requirements and target business outcomes, Xtravirt can help define the best solution to meet those objectives.
“We are being asked more and more about how to build an effective flexible working model. Organisations expect there to be an ongoing shift to a hybrid workforce and are reimagining their office space in readiness”Christelle Heritier
Account Manager, Xtravirt
Our legacy application is too slow over the VPN, how can I support my users to work remotely?
In this scenario, the issue is normally the speed of the connection from the client device to the back-end application server and the time delay that this introduces. Many legacy applications were designed for the user to be in the same building as the datacentre rather than across a corporate network or VPN connection.
Leveraging virtual desktops or published applications via VMware Horizon to locate the users desktop right inside the datacentre next to the legacy application can reduce this delay to almost nothing. When the user connects remotely to this desktop, their experience can often be better than when working from the office. For specific requirements, further enhancement can be achieved by using an optimised display protocol such as VMware Blast.
“Instead of trying to move the mountain to the climber, move the climber to the mountain”Curtis Brown
Lead Consultant, Xtravirt
We are worried about BYOD, data loss and the risk of remote users losing corporate devices. Could a VMware Digital Workspace solution help?
Our customers are critically aware that remote working adds even more focus to the ever present need to protect data. Greater support for BYOD to enable employees to continue working remotely and issuing more users with laptops that can be mislaid have both increased the need for control.
For BYOD mobile users, Workspace ONE provides users with secure email, internet browsing and file access within a sandbox environment, isolated from personal applications and services. Having the ability to remote-wipe the sandbox without affecting the rest of the device provides administrators with effective controls to minimise risk of data loss.
On corporate devices, Workspace ONE offers more granular control, managing device configuration and also supporting remote-wipe functionality.
The most robust solution is to deploy VMware Horizon which leaves the applications and data within the corporate perimeter. With this remote desktop approach, nothing is retained on the device. Enterprise user management and 2 factor authentication ensure that even if the user device is mislaid it cannot be used to access the Horizon environment.
“It’s no surprise that security continues to be a real concern voiced by the businesses we speak to. A recent survey found that amid Covid-19, Global organisations saw a 148% spike in ransomware attacks”Kieran Dutfield
Senior Consultant, Xtravirt
For compliance reasons we need to ensure control over access to data and historically only provide access from the office. Can we still achieve this with a VDI solution?
While data protection has always been important, the introduction of GDPR brought a renewed focus to the importance of compliance.
A VDI solution such as VMware Horizon means that data can be accessed remotely, but on the organisation’s terms. The ability to restrict downloading data, taking screenshots and copying and pasting between the corporate desktop and the local device all help retain data within the corporate environment. As the data never leaves the datacentre, if a user loses their device, there are no data protection implications.
The other side of data management is the risk of corruption in critical business data as a result of ransomware attacks. This can also be significantly reduced through the addition of Carbon Black endpoint protection which uses next generation anti-virus technology to monitor unexpected file activity and prevents unknown or suspicious applications from executing.
Once we have adopted a digital workspace solution, how easy is it to stay on top of everyday patching and maintenance?
One of the many benefits of the modern digital workspace is the ability to reduce management overhead through automation. For example, VMware Workspace ONE can manage and enforce patching of endpoint devices (with Dell desktops, this also includes firmware updates). In VMware Horizon, non-persistent desktop pools mean that each time a user logs on their desktop runs from the most up to date image. By patching the base image once, an administrator can ensure that all users will quickly be up to date.
The key to gaining full value from any IT or digital transformation including the adoption of digital workspace solutions, is to avoid them quickly descending to become a new legacy. Xtravirt Managed Services portfolio offers support and managed services that align to customers needs as they complete their transformation and move onwards into business as usual. By addressing challenges such as key-person dependency or lack of internal resources, providing effective ongoing support or taking full proactive responsibility for maintaining solutions, Xtravirt ensures customers gain the full value from their investments and focus on supporting their own business growth.
Why should I work with Xtravirt?
Xtravirt is a modern cloud consulting and managed services business, with a 15-year history of enabling the digital transformation of organisations so they can innovate and thrive in a changing world.
Having led hundreds of digital workspace modernisation programmes, for organisations big and small, we are a trusted safe pair of hands for digital strategy, design and deploy and our consulting capabilities have won global acclaim for their proven ability to deliver value. Our Managed Services teams help support these solutions in alignment with customer IT over the full lifetime of the investment. With Xtravirt Managed Cloud Services we can deliver VMware platforms as an Xtravirt Managed Service.
We work as a strategic IT partner for FTSE 500 customers across every industry vertical, making sure we help them overcome the business and IT challenges today, ensuring they are prepared for the future, whatever that might look like.
Got your own questions to put to our experts?
If you’ve got more questions about Xtravirt or VMware Digital Workspace solutions, then we’d be happy to answer them. Simply put your question in an email and send to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will get back to you.