Connected workspaces: The final digital transformation hurdle

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Connecting workforces and spaces have become a priority for many businesses as the dust settles on the pandemic, says Simon Horton, VP International Sales at Sangoma, with remote and hybrid working a lasting legacy of Covid. However, if companies of all sizes are to achieve truly connected workspaces and digitally transform their ways of working effectively, then it is important that desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) is not ignored. If such digitisation is not executed correctly, remote workers are exposed to security threats, complicated processes and collaboration and communication struggles. 

So, what is DaaS? DaaS is a cloud computing offering where a service provider delivers virtual desktops to end users over the Internet, licensed with a per-user subscription. The provider takes care of backend management for small businesses that find creating their own virtual desktop infrastructure to be too expensive or resource-consuming. This management typically includes maintenance, back-up, updates, and data storage. Cloud service providers may also handle security and applications for the desktop, or users may manage these service aspects individually.

Businesses across all sectors continue to make the change to DaaS, switching on to the fact that it is a key enabler of digital transformation. In fact, Gartner forecasts that the number of users for DaaS will grow by more than 150% by 2023, as more companies move their infrastructure to the cloud to further digitise their workspace operations. 

Why exactly are businesses moving to DaaS operations, and what are its benefits for those that do?

Facilitating remote working

Opportunities for remote working have risen more than ever now because of the pandemic rushing businesses to enable remote working within their working infrastructure. At the beginning of the pandemic, employers had no choice but to move to a remote working model, however, this has indicated to managers that employees can still work productively and efficiently from home.

While some businesses already had remote working models in place before the pandemic, ultimately this has completely changed office working models, with many employees now requesting a hybrid or fully remote working model. As employers have become more comfortable and trusting of remote working models, this has allowed managers to hire talent away from the office. DaaS makes it easy to collaborate, improve productivity, and allows workers to transition to and from the office, since their desktop follows them wherever they go on whatever device they have.

Securing remote working

As businesses rushed to enable remote working, employee productivity was not the only thing on employers’ minds. The haste to implement remote working capabilities within their business infrastructure, significantly increased the chances of threats and malware successfully attacking their organisation. Without the necessary preparation, a remote worker using a virtual private network (VPN) or remote desktop protocol (RDP) connection to the head office was also a target for malware that could infiltrate their local PC and exploit their connection to corporate infrastructure. Remote workers logging into corporate applications via their credentials from completely unprotected networks also posed serious risks.

DaaS solves these security concerns by enabling secure remote access with a fully encrypted connection, decoupled from the device. This allows users to log in from any device, over any network connection, from anywhere in the world, without worry. In the case of a security concern, the IT administrator can disable privileges or lock out the entire account instantly without further jeopardising the company’s infrastructure.

But along with cyberthreats, DaaS can also help mitigate against physical threats too. Because user desktops are hosted virtually in the cloud with DaaS, in the event of device failure, fire, flood or other catastrophic scenarios, users can continue to work, by logging into any device of their choice, from anywhere, anytime.

Simplifying management process

The time and hassle involved in having to manage and maintain individual users’ desktops, can be cut down significantly by DaaS, which is a big job the more employees there are. Users can access their desktops via the cloud by simply logging into a web page to access all their tools, and software updates or security patches are performed from one centralised location, updating the entire infrastructure almost instantly. 

In addition, users can conveniently log in with their personal devices, which is not a security problem because it’s the connection to the service that is secured. This can save the business on hardware costs too, by allowing users to log in to the service using their personal devices or by deploying Zero Client devices (cost-effective PCs with minimal hardware and software on them) where users simply log in to their accounts and work through the cloud connection.

Onboarding new employees is also pain-free; with a few clicks, their accounts are set up and users can log into their environments and start working immediately, without waiting for a PC to get provisioned and possibly needing to be shipped to a remote worker.

DaaS allows for connected workspace simplicity 

Connected workspace is designed for ease of use. Users log into a single sign-on (SSO) web portal and simply click on the tile of the application they want to use, whether it be SaaS tools such as Salesforce, Office 365, their virtual desktop, or migrated legacy applications. Best of all, there’s no need to remember passwords to all these tools since the SSO takes care of logging users in, along with self-serve password resets. IT admins love the simplicity in that, as well as the ability to disable access on-the-fly, if needed.

For the first time, users have everything they need, from productivity applications to voice, video, and messaging, accessible from any device and delivered via the cloud, without security, network problems, or IT assistance. 

Simon Horton

Connected Workspace essentially eliminates the “office” and transforms the business into a flexible, adaptable hub for productivity no matter where employees are logging in. And it is this operation that will continue to drive digital transformation, and see the future of work, and workspaces, continue their evolution. Now, more than ever before, businesses of all sizes should be taking note of the DaaS if they are to realise their digitisation goals.

The author is Simon Horton, VP international sales at Sangoma.

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