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Five rules for optimising VDI in the face of digital disruption

A recent report by Dynatrace entitled Global Digital Performance and Transformation Audit has revealed the amount of operational waste enterprises are experiencing, especially in light of the fact that IT is devoting significantly more time to performance issues related to digital transformation initiatives.

The Telsyte Australian Emerging Enterprise Technology Study 2017 reveals that more half of organisations with more than 20 employees are currently undergoing large scale IT transformation, leading to widespread investigation, planning and roll out of emerging technologies. Disruption is a given, but there are ways to minimise adverse effects, and plenty of opportunities for resellers and service providers to capitalise on the evolution of the enterprise.

The Dynatrace research study found that IT professionals are losing over two hours every business day, or 522 hours per year, to operational inefficiency. Study respondents noted that a more complex technology environment was one of the leading culprits in these performance issues.

Complex technology isn't going away. In fact, more than likely, digital transformation will continue to add ever-increasing layers of technical complexity. One area that enables enterprises to reduce complexity and streamline operations is their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Virtualisation is a linchpin of digital transformation and effectively optimising an enterprise's VDI is essential to moving forward with digital technologies.

Delivering the best possible VDI performance means taking a fresh look at what "desktop" means today. The endpoint, or desktop, now can be a physical thin client, a software-defined thin client, a traditional laptop, a phone or tablet.

To reduce operational waste and achieve better performance across the desktop environment, consider the following five actions.

Accomodating self-service access

Employees should be able to access certain applications without having to contact an IT help desk. Enabling ‘self-serve’ application access, as appropriate, allows employees to access their personal desktop workspaces and needed applications, without using valuable IT time.

However, there is a flip side to this: IT needs to control how far employees can take self-service. If employees are spending too much time onboarding more advanced applications, and less time being work-productive, then those applications may need to be controlled by the IT department or managed services provider.

Pay attention to the edge

Using centralised management software, IT can control and manage edge devices' use of applications residing in the data centre.

For example, software managing thin clients can retrieve a user profile and populate the endpoint with applications that a user needs to be productive. This centralised approach can result in the economies of a single IT person managing as many as 30,000 endpoints – a great reduction in IT time and resources, and a great opportunity for an MSP to add value to their customer’s solution.

Thinking software, not hardware

Enterprises are moving away from endpoint hardware investments towards software that supports the pace of digital transformation. Improving endpoint performance means being able to quickly onboard new employees, deliver custom configurations to a remote workforce using a variety of devices, and to quickly populate new applications for ready use.

Endpoint software such as thin client firmware is a means of delivering profiles and applications via a single pane of glass, regardless of device.

Understanding user expectations

Your average worker today wants to use many devices, with the expectation the device will deliver what they need to do their job. The ‘desktop’ of today can range from software-driven thin clients to USB devices.

Endpoint management must be able to manage all these devices, control application access and mitigate security risk. It is challenging since, for example, there are many versions of Android and iOS in use, with the threat that users are loading up applications that can pose risk to the network.

USB devices pose one solution, freeing the user from physical boundaries, yet delivering the desired level of endpoint security. A new employee, for example, can plug the device into their personal laptop, and securely receive the configuration and applications they need, without IT ever having to touch the device.

Enterprises are searching for these types of solutions that deliver an optimal user experience without adding to operational complexity.

Looking at the bigger picture

Getting ahead of digital transformation technology needs and advancements is critical to winning the digital game. The alternative is never really catching up with technology and being overwhelmed by the complex IT environments that are becoming standard today.

In the Dynatrace study of operational waste, IT professionals said that if they could reclaim those two hours a day, they would spend more time researching and deploying new systems/technologies.

Staying up to speed on virtualisation technology is essential to digital transformation succeeding. Companies are innovating technology that plays right into the enablement of high VDI performance. Remote display technology that accommodates workers using graphics-intensive applications is an example of delivering the innovation that users expect. Freeing up IT time to continue to integrate these enhancements in the user experience has to be part of a thorough digital transformation.

Conclusion

Enterprises are grappling with the challenges of digital transformation, from figuring out cloud deployment, data storage, and BYOD security threats to how to deliver an endpoint experience that optimises performance. Smart, scalable, agile solutions from resellers and MSPs can remove a lot of the stress of digital transformation, and provide pathways towards a more efficient, high-functioning operational environment.

The five actions mentioned here will help IT deliver VDI performance that supports digital transformation initiatives. Improvements such as enabling workers to be more self-sufficient, and streamlining endpoint management will reduce operational waste, reduce both operational and capital expenditures, and maps to the market trend toward centralised endpoint management software that can accommodate a variety of devices.

Freeing up IT time will allow IT departments to better plan for more integration of digital technologies which in turn, increases the enterprise's competitive strength and offers more opportunities to the channel. After all, this is the purpose of digital transformation!

By Jeff Kalberg, Chief Technology Evangelist at IGEL Technology, with input from Marc Doehnert, Regional Manager for ANZ at IGEL Technology

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