The unpredictable pandemic only accelerated an entirely predictable trend: the rise of remote work. In March, as organisations scrambled to adapt, it became clear that securely managing access to IT would be a challenge and business continuity was at risk. Or rather, it would have been if Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) hadn’t been released about six months earlier.
WVD (and other virtual desktop solutions) have proved to be a saving grace for IT departments the world over. Their popularity has grown alongside that of remote work: some sources report that there were six times more WVD users than expected in 2020. According to research conducted by Forrester, those users have seen massive improvements to cost efficiency and productivity.
Cloud-based virtual desktops are to traditional IT infrastructure what remote work is to the office – the safer, more efficient future. Here’s how:
That same Forrester survey found that businesses adopting WVD saw an annual productivity increase of 22 hours per user. How is that possible? When it comes to the benefits of virtual desktops, it’s probably less about gaining those hours and more about reclaiming them through centralised IT management.
ComputerWorld’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols highlights the inefficiency of a traditional, decentralised approach in decidedly un-traditional circumstances: ‘Most companies are dealing with the astronomical rise in telecommuting by trying to manage Windows 10 users remotely. But it hasn’t been pretty. To quote a sysadmin friend of mine, “I’ve had about a billion calls on how to use the VPN, and don’t talk to me about securing and patching Windows 10 remotely.”’
The old remote management model doesn’t work at volume. Timely scalability is a pipe dream because attempting to troubleshoot Windows 10 issues remotely on top of VPN access provision is an efficiency vacuum. It ties up IT managers and holds employees back from getting work done. Yet it’s completely avoidable with a centrally-managed, cloud-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).
It takes an average of 66 days for a behaviour to become automatic. For many of us, using the OS we’re familiar with has become second-nature, and we’re able to reap the productivity rewards that come with that. We’re advocates for a more modern approach to remote IT, but we’re not advising a behaviour change for end-users. According to Microsoft, over one billion devices run Windows 10. Let’s not create a tidal wave of lost productivity by forcing their owners to learn a new interface.
WVD has proved popular because it presents the end-user with the same interface they’re used to. It’s the most seamless option for shifting your IT infrastructure to the cloud and centrally-managing your employees’ IT. For all intents and purposes, nothing about the actual use of their OS has changed (aside from the fact that it’s more secure and has fewer connectivity issues).
56 percent of people have been using their personal devices to work remotely. That’s a significant number of potential leaks in your data security bucket, especially if you’re relying on decentralised IT and allowing employees to store company data at home.
Virtual desktops allow for near-instant access provision, but they also allow managers to rapidly deny users access in the face of security threats. Centralised VD management also gives IT professionals the benefit of security and connectivity reports that reflect the entire company’s activity, making it far easier to track down and plug any potential breaches.
Windows Virtual Desktop and the future of work
If the future of work is remote – and there’s a good amount of evidence to suggest it will be – IT infrastructure will have to evolve. If it doesn’t, ‘remote’ will become a by-word for ‘unsecure and unproductive’.
To preserve any semblance of business continuity in the face of instability, businesses will need to be able to scale their IT up and down without sacrificing security. That’s a tall order, but virtual desktop systems like WVD have been meeting it for over a year now. And hybrid cloud solutions are available for more complex cases - so there's no excuse not to get started right away.