In the past week, we've had a number of our customers requesting rapid, low cost and secure remote working solutions for their office-based employees... without a long-term commitment.
- Low cost
- Rapid to deploy
- Easy to scale-up & scale down
In challenging times, customers are looking for guidance on how to rapidly enable remote working, without significant long-term costs or commitments.
So we thought we'd share the advice and our recommendations.
Customer requirements for secure remote working
Firstly, for any business, having to 'react' is unwelcome. Unplanned, hasty investments could lead to poor decisions, impacting business in both the short and long-term.
With an immediate, short-term need, there were some very clear requirements:
Low cost - Low capital expenditure; Low operational expenditure.
Rapid to deploy - Rapid to deploy, not dependent on 3rd-party suppliers.
Not bandwidth dependent - as existing infrastructure was not built for large-scale remote working.
Secure - Maintain security integrity, for all users.
Easy to scale up/tear down - Easy to scale up for large scale use; Tear down if/when not required.
Fully managed - Critical to ensure business continuity by delivering an effective solution.
6-month commitment - An understandable preference of a short-term commitment.
What about VPN?
With these particular customers all having a large number of users, their respective IT infrastructures were not built for large-scale remote work.
- Insufficient bandwidth
- Not easy to scale up/down
- Security risks to address
While you may expect to have 5-10% of your workforce connected over VPN at any one time, few networks were built to serve more than 50%, potentially grinding the network to a halt for everyone.
And as well as being costly and time-consuming increase bandwidth, connecting over VPN from unsecured home computers/devices would provide a big security risk, without implementing and enforcing additional security controls.
- Are devices up to date, using current/supported operating systems?
- Are they already infected with malware?
- Is the home router still using the default password, or are users connecting over 'free' unsecured Wi-Fi in a cafe?
- What security software is enabled? And are they effective?
So, from the start we knew VPN wouldn't fit many of the customers' requirements.
VPN solutions would take too long to enable, with insufficient bandwidth and a significant security risk.
Virtual desktops in the Cloud
Challenge: How do you rapidly enable your workforce to securely connect to your corporate environment, using their own devices? All of this whilst ensuring no data leakage and a great experience for your end users?
Solution: Virtual Desktops in the Cloud.
Deployed on Azure, Comtact Ltd. provided a solution which scaled dynamically, based on the number of users requiring access.
Using a blend of Microsoft 365 & Azure, Comtact provided virtual desktops which would run on ANY device, even with a slow (64 kb/s) internet connection.
Moreover, we utilised RemoteFX (remote delivery of Windows virtual desktops over LAN), providing a seamless user experience, making it feel like the application or remote desktop is running natively on their local device.
Security: A VDI solution provides a secure desktop environment, protected from malware threats and local device security issues.
Costs: And as the solution scales dynamically, based on the number of users logged in, the client only would pay for what they use.
As demand increases, more virtual desktops are spun up to accommodate load. Similarly, when demand tails off, they would not be left with a large unused overhead.
Per user cost is around £25 a month, as a fully managed 'Pay as you go' service (inclusive of licensing, cloud, support and secure web filtering, incl. sandboxing), with a typical on-boarding of around 10 engineering days.
Best practice advice
Comtact Ltd. has continued to excel by building long-term trusted partnerships, supporting clients' long-term best interest. In light of the significant challenges facing many business, we trust you find this guidance useful.
Operating 24/7, our dedicated team of experts are always on hand to answer any questions you may have. If you have any questions, please contact us.
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About Comtact Ltd.
Comtact Ltd. is a government-approved Cyber Security and IT Managed Service Provider, supporting clients 24/7 from our ISO27001-accredited UK Security & Network Operations Centre.