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With these options and the assistance of The Project Foundry, read on to see how to combat the challenges of Remote Working as a result of ongoing risks from COVID-19. Our Cloud Consultancy team, led by Mark Carragher are here to help in implementing a range of solutions to enable remote working without the need for large investment or upscaling your infrastructure.
These options include current incentives and discounts while covering more traditional & cloud technologies that can assist your workforce to work remotely quickly and more importantly, securely.
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Allows you to deploy remote access agents to your systems via Group Policy, SCCM, or any compatible software distribution method.
Once deployed you can delegate users access to their corporate device, without the need to upscale, one limitation to be aware of is network capacity and your ability to upload the connections.
Users remotely connect to their systems desktop from a remote location, which ensures they maintain the customisations, security, and policies as if they were in the office.
Zoom Meetings & Chat
Allows anywhere hosting for your meetings and conferences via PSTN, Video, VoIP and Whiteboards form any browser.
Zoom provides a free license that covers 1-on-1 meetings with up to 49 video participants.
Advantages: you don’t need to deploy any software or upscale any infrastructure, there are slight limitations if users overall internet speed is less than an average of 10Mbs to support the full features.
Teams have a free tier that allows all users to collaborate via Video, Call, IM, and Whiteboarding, while also providing cloud-based file storage.
It must be connected to your on-premise activity directory by a single sync utility.
It’s important to set up security policies before allowing users access. It also has a WebApp so there is no need to deploy the desktop client unless you want the full features.
Many companies already utilise this platform your users have remote access to their email, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive and the office suite via Web App versions.
This allows users to remotely work on their files, and collaborate with Teams (or Skype). It’s important that security policies for DLP, 2FA are configured and auditing is set up in advance.
Should you not have a cloud-based solution but use on-premise solutions like Exchange, you can leverage OWA access for email only, or create a hybrid link to a new Office365 tenant to benefit from 30 days of access for free.
On Premise VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)
Can be utilised for remote access if you already have a system in place, it may need to be scaled to support the additional users.
If you have a solution already in place like VMware Horizon, Citrix XenApp or similar you have the basis of a remote access solution available to be scaled for remote access.
It’s important that scaling is measured and addressed before allowing remote access, various calculators exist to assist with this.
Citrix Managed Desktop Business Continuity Program
Citrix have been the market leader in remote access technologies and have been offering their solution on the cloud for some time now.
If you have Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop currently this can be scaled to account for your user base and remote access can be configured using NetScaler appliance or other reverse proxy firewall solution.
If you don’t have the technology its available to consume on the cloud, integrate with your on-premise Active Directory, then deploy the desktops either from a pre-configured template, or an image of your corporate desktop.
This solution can be enabled and presented to users quickly, the time must be taken to build the master corporate image, which can be a clone for a real desktop, and security restrictions for 2FA, auditing should be configured in advance.
One thing to constantly be aware of consuming cloud solution is the potential cost, scaling is a powerful and useful feature of cloud, but the ease of scaling can be offset by the cost if not managed correctly, usage and consumption billing alerts should be configured and actioned.
They are currently offering special offers for their Managed Desktop which offers a turnkey Desktop-as-a-Service (Daas).
Windows Virtual Desktop
The relatively new kid to the block is a preconfigured solution for what was once RDS (Remote Desktop Services) from Microsoft.
The advantage of this solution is it allows rapid deployment of a virtual desktop solution, within a few hours, more time may be needed if you have to build or close a master image.
Once the master image is configured, you can deploy as many desktops as you need, one of the key benefits and is unique to this solution is it provides Windows 10 Multi-User, whereby users share a Windows 10 desktop.
The other advantage for Office365 users is that it fully supports OneDrive and its index search, this is not available on other platforms (yet). The implementation involves connecting to your on-premise AD, or Azure AD if your cloud-hosted, and defining the basic profile for the number of users and size of the desktop image you need (2core CPU, 8GB RAM, 110Gb disk as an example).
In addition, if you need to use Windows 7as its support ended on Jan 14, 2020, but you get extended security updates for free if you use WVD, although ideally, you should plan to move to Windows 10, this option is available if your LOB apps required Windows 7.
You must have a valid license to support the Windows 10 WVDPage.
Cloudfare for Teams
Are providing free 6 months access which allows users secure, fast and stable access to your on-premise resources without the need for a VPN.
The traditional access for remote users doesn’t scale well and can present a bottleneck or performance issues for users.
Providing a single access solution, with security and auditing controls that scale with demand, you can upscale this to provide caching, edge firewalls and reverse proxies when needed.