Managing the IT of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise with thousands of people is hard enough. But when a dramatic shift in the way employees work and connect happens overnight, it can potentially be a never ending nightmare for the IT team. That was exactly what was demanded from the team of this leading bio-pharma company in this current traumatic Covid-19 scenario. An immediate transition to Work from Home for all of its employees.
Fortunately, forward thinking was always a way of life for this enterprise. And the IT team encapsulated that by putting in place a model which was prepared for mobility without sacrificing security or productivity. And that model was of Virtual Desktops (VDI). A seamless work from anywhere experience without the need for any dedicated VPNs.
The transition to this setup involved two simple steps. The first was to ensure that individualized virtual desktops were available for individual team members. And the second was to ensure that these virtual desktops were accessible from the employee’s personal home workstation.
These two steps were of course preceded by the choice of VDI solution for the enterprise. The choice for them was simple and straightforward – To leverage on the trusted and fruitful relationship that they had built with EnCloudEn over the years. The EnCloudEn team deployed VDI server appliances which had all the necessary resources to run the workforce for the enterprise. These appliances were easily configured and an intuitive dashboard was presented for the provisioning of virtual workstations.
This was the position of handover for the IT team and they proceeded to execute on the couple of steps mentioned earlier.
Step 1 : Creating individualized virtual desktops
The key for the IT administrators was to create a map of requirements for the different teams. They followed a well-defined process for the same.
1. First, they divided the entire workforce of the enterprise into silos of similarities. Each silo would be similar in their desktop work profile and information was assimilated specific to their requirements. Thankfully for the IT team, this was a very quick activity as they already had the information handy.
2. They then translated this information into templates that were required. And each template comprised of the OS type, the requisite applications and the system resources required.
3. This was followed by an assessment of concurrency. This was required to estimate how heavy would an individual’s usage be across time and how would the total utilization of resources add up. This was an initial approximation only as they knew that the EnCloudEn Platform would show exactly how much was getting consumed at any point in time. And they could proactively make decisions on resource allocation even later
4. They started launching machines in two different forms. One of them was as Persistent machines, for users that were more critical and the other was Pooled machines for users who would be allocated on a first come first serve basis without prior reservation.
5. Finally, they also defined and implemented policies around each type of user on data/file transfer and copying rights. This ensured a uniformity with company protocol.
Step 2 : Accessing from home
Right from the top of the management, there were two obvious priorities drilled down to the IT team. One, was for the productivity for the workforce to be as high as possible and two, that this should not come at the cost of security. So, the IT administrators had a clear path to follow.
1. They started off by leveraging on the existing AD that they had. All users already had dedicated user profiles generated and the IT team was able to integrate the AD with the EnCloudEn solution. And use the same as the authentication platform.
2. They then ensured that the network of the internal datacenter was isolated from the network through which the external access was going to be made. This was easily done as the EnCloudEn architecture already had a well defined secure network isolation.
3. They then instructed the users to download and install the VDI connectors on their personal systems. This was a simple self-install which the individuals were able to do themselves.
4. The users would then login through their connectors and get a full screen experience of their virtual desktops.
5. Once connected, they could do one or all of the three things necessary for their work:
-Work on the virtual machines and the applications within them
-Connect to any enterprise apps/data that were hosted
-Take a remote of their physical workstations
-At the same time, the IT team was able to relate to the management on the user access pattern and give them a regular update of the users that were logged in.
The entire process left the team very happy with their choice of VDI over VPN. Not only were they able to provide secure and fast access, but the same was also standardized specific to users. And last but not the least, they not only secured the network connection like a VPN, but were also able to protect the office environment from an infected home workstation.
In these trying times, we all need inspiring stories that day to day productivity is still possible. And the overall speed of execution for this enterprise was truly exemplary. While other companies were grappling with their next steps in this current world scenario, this enterprise was almost on its way to its natural productivity.