Remote work has dug its heels into the labour force and is likely here to stay. Businesses now recognise that offering flexible work styles is key; and yet, it’s not just about allowing employees to work remotely.
It’s also about empowering them to do their best work from wherever they are.
Companies that thrive in the remote work landscape will be those that make critical investments in helping their employees maximise efficiency while away from the office. Cloud services in particular are a crucial enabler of remote work that can facilitate employee productivity and happiness.
While cloud services might be the backbone of remote work, there are additional technologies that can be leveraged to upgrade a company’s remote work capabilities.
VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, allows employees within the same company to access their network quickly and securely, eliminating the stress of getting everyone on the same page when they work from home. With almost half (45%) of all employees now working remotely as a result of COVID-19, VDI has seen a big uptick in adoption.
What does VDI solve?
As remote work becomes more widespread and facilitated, technologies that enable working from home like VDI will be more important for a company to index into.
In a survey conducted by Parallels – to understand the state of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and cloud computing – 31.3% of respondents cited the ability to enable remote work as the most important reason for choosing VDI workloads, 24.1% of respondents cited security as the most important reason, and the third most important reason, at 18.8%, was as an enabler of flexible working, such as working from any device.
Employees often don’t have the same level of cybersecurity at home as they do in the office, so whatever company data they access using personal devices becomes more vulnerable to malicious cyberattacks. It doesn’t help that 30% of remote workers under the age of 24 say that they circumvent or ignore certain corporate security policies when those policies get in the way of getting work done.
Cybercrime has seen a massive uptick since the start of the pandemic and is expected to continue to wreak havoc on businesses throughout 2022 and beyond. For context, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that ransomware costs will exceed $265 billion by 2031. Cybersecurity is a massive business, and minimising the risk of breaches is a significant reason why a business might adopt a VDI solution for their employees.
In a VDI environment, data is stored in a central location rather than spread across users’ personal devices. That central location (e.g., a data center or a public cloud environment) is easier to secure than hundreds or thousands of personal endpoints, so data is easier to protect. Since applications and desktops are hosted in that same central location, they’re also easier for IT teams to harden, patch, and defend.
A VDI-solution enables end-users to securely access virtual applications and desktops from any location or device: desktop or laptop PCs, tablets, and even mobile phones.
That way employees can easily access all their files, data and applications as if they were running locally, and work from anywhere. The ability to smoothly swap collaborative documents between team members across a wide range of different devices, even old ones, is a vital aspect of efficient and productive remote work.
There is also no need to acquire new or upgrade existing hardware regularly. Users who practice BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, can access the VDI at any time.
The importance of choosing the right VDI solution
Despite myriad benefits, adopting a VDI solution to improve work from home efficacy isn’t always plain sailing. There are common problems that may hinder VDI adoption. Parallels finds that the most common source of VDI issues occurs with applications and their updates. Coming in second is the network (14.2%), followed by the operating system (11.3%), and finally the endpoint device itself (10.4%).
Naturally, the more complex a VDI solution is, the more likely it is that users will encounter a problem somewhere along the line. For a technology that is meant to improve a worker’s ability to work from home reliably, this presents a crucial consideration when choosing a VDI provider. In short, businesses should look for VDIs with a simple architecture to minimise potential problems.
Problems are unavoidable in almost any technology, so rather than looking for an ideal solution, it becomes more important to look for the least problematic. A survey conducted of customers who already use VDI shows that the highest percentage of respondents (42.5%) spend less than one day per month troubleshooting VDI performance issues, while 38.6% spend one to three days. These companies may be using VDI solutions with a simpler architecture that don’t add much extra time to their IT team’s workload.
Another obstacle to overcome in the adoption of VDI is that it requires a certain level of skill to equip and maintain. Professionals with a sufficiently high level of IT capability to manage a VDI system are in high demand, and it can take up to 50 staff to maintain a VDI system.
That said, 50 is the highest end of the spectrum, and most companies only require five or fewer staff to cover the maintenance of their VDI. Some businesses have chosen to outsource this task. Depending on the current level of a company’s IT staff, it can be difficult to assess whether or not maintaining a VDI solution is feasible, or whether the company will also have to invest in training their employees.
Again, this problem highlights the importance of choosing a simple, intuitive, and user-friendly VDI solution that doesn’t require complicated servicing.
VDI in 2022
VDI represents a scalable solution that enables working from home, and as remote work becomes more common, choosing the right VDI solution will become more important.
There are many factors to consider when deliberating: How secure is it? Is it simple enough that my current IT staff can manage and maintain it? Will I need to invest in training, and how much time will be spent fixing problems that arise from this technology?
Christa Quarles is CEO at Corel.