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COVID-19 Resources

Remote Work – What Is The Most Secure And Efficient?

By January 9, 2020March 19th, 2021No Comments

At the beginning of 2020, the remote work (work-from-home) movement went from a trend to a mandate by many governments and businesses.  This created a paradigm shift in businesses who traditionally managed a consolidated staff compliment at a singular location, to a distributed model of managing people and systems.

Being a managed IT services company, ISM Grid’s experienced IT consultants have installed a plethora of remote access solutions for companies around the globe.  Leveraging our solutions knowledgebase, we seek to show you which method would be the right fit for the way you work.

The easiest method for staff members to use effectively to carry out their respective roles is a cloud service dedicated to your enterprise.  They pick up any modern, internet connected device, enter the URL for the company resource, use their login credentials and start remote work.

Traditional business operators think that their proprietary business applications are not so easy to access remotely in a safely, distributed manner to users. ISM Grid as a managed, IT services company has solutions for these specific situations to help you.

What is Your Business Remote Access Strategy?

Before 2020, only the most modern thinking businesses were drafting and implementing remote access strategies to boost connectivity, productivity and thus competitiveness.  Traditionally run organizations where the employees all reported to a single office space rarely sought such considerations.

Post 2020, a remote access strategy became a necessity as companies were forced to disperse their employees during a global lockdown yet be able to continue business as usual.  This revealed a gap in planning for some business leaders’ operations strategy.  The rush to implementation for some involved: wasted money on software, weeks of frustration, miscommunication and productivity loss due to over-complicated processes of remote access.

Think about it. You have a spreadsheet that needs updating and it should normally take you two seconds if you were at your desk. But because you are home, you must perform seven steps (five minutes later) to get access to the document you needed to edit. A complete brain-drain and motivation killer to inspire a remote productivity apocalypse for the business.

The key insight is that the user experience is critical when it comes to remote access – it needs to be simple and reliable. ISM Grid agrees, understands and delivers a simple, robust solution for you in our effort to be your company’s managed, IT services provider.

Let us help you break down the options available to you for remote access. There are VPN, VDI and RDS options. First, we will distill that alphabet soup and explain each option, and then we will compare them against each other, so you know which one is right for you.

A VPN In Brief

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an option of secure remote access technology that allows internet connected devices to safely interact with a private company network from a remote location.

Users can employ smartphones, tablets, desktops or laptops to access this technology by installing an application.  After installation, the application will need to be configured by an experienced, managed, IT services company so you can gain access to shared folders and even printers when out of the office.

There are several recommended VPN services for 2020 to be found here, but be sure to speak to us at ISM Grid to tailor a solution just right for you.

A VDI Briefly Explained

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a clever way of using a server to deliver a virtual desktop for several users who need to access the same applications in a homogenous IT environment.

This technology allows users to have the exact desktop user experience at home as they would have at the office. VDI technology is special in that each user’s desktop can be customized. RDS (see below) in contrast is more restrictive.

Several VDI solutions are available on the market, however reach out to us, we can guide you.

A Short RDS Explanation

Remote Desktop Services is Microsoft’s answer to remote access, providing workers using nearly any internet connected device with a virtual desktop to work from.

This arrangement can work a Windows server pretty hard, especially if it is tasked with other functions. Check in with a managed, IT services provider like ISM Grid to determine the best configuration for your business.

Let’s Compare VPN vs VDI vs RDS

  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

The way how VPNs work, it is the user’s VPN application that establishes a secure connection and creates a tunnel between the device and the corporate network.  A successful connection grants the user access as if they were at the office, sitting at their desk.  Company applications and services on the user’s device does the processing and just relays the information via a encrypted tunnel to the company network. In comparison to RDS or VDI, the processing is done on the device.  The other two technologies are more server reliant for processing.

  1. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

In more regulated industries (law, insurance, banking for instance), users can be provided dedicated virtual computers that can be customized by the user within the parameters of the defined policies laid out by the company’s management.

The major upside in this scenario is that all the virtual desktops operate independently of each other but can be managed as a singular unit.

  1. Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

RDS offers more homogeneity and order if that is important to you. It differs from VDI in that users will have an identical experience with very limited user-customizable options.

RDS also differs from VDI, in that RDS offers a “server optimized” version of Windows 10 for greater user and management satisfaction.

Learn more about how desktop as a service can benefit your

Pros and Cons of Remote Access Software

Each setup has upsides and downsides, but know the following as you consider your options:

  1. Cost

A VPN has the lowest cost of implementation. Minimal hardware is needed, and users can frequently use their existing devices.

A VDI system can be expensive due to an extra layer of software required to host a VDI system, typically Citrix or VMware.

Depending on various factors, RDS may fall in the middle of the cost scale.

  1. Maintenance

Challenges can arise with keeping a VDI setup secure and functional with the patches and updates needed due to the dense number of virtual machines.

An RDS setup in comparison is simpler to patch and maintain.

Although VPNs setups use your existing hardware, the maintenance of off-site personnel can be difficult as they need to connect in order to be visible.

  1. Performance

VDIs in general perform better than RDS solutions because the resources are compartmentalized and adjustable to each user.

A VDI solution would typically be recommended for graphics “intensive” businesses who use applications like ArcGIS, AutoCAD or similar graphic-dependent software, which requires more processing power.

Client hardware and the connection speed are the main limitation to VPN connections when dealing with large amounts of information or data due to the encryption.

  1. User Hardware

End user hardware is not as critical a consideration for VDI or RDS installations because the processing is being done by the server.

Apple, Windows and Android devices have access clients to connect with a VDI solution.

Windows RDS also has clients for Apple and Android devices.  Naturally, using a Windows-based PC will generally give the best user experience for remote work.

For VPNs, user hardware should be considered as the processing is done on these devices.

  1. Security

Enterprises who need to ring-fence their intellectual property, are happy with VDI or RDS configurations.

VPN connections protect the data while it travels the open internet between the user and corporate network. A great option for a mobile workforce where the integrity of the network they are utilizing is in “scrutiny”. However, greater measures need to be employed to protect corporate data from migration and distribution.

Final Thoughts 

If your business has a small staff compliment with limited requirements, VPN or RDS often turns out to be the most cost-effective option.

Architects for instance can have full access to drawings and project management data at the construction site and can make changes quickly and securely from a tablet from a VDI solution.

ISM Grid is uniquely positioned to help you refine your business remote access strategy in that we have both the experienced IT consultants and the infrastructure to help you execute your long-term vision and relationships.  Never worry about on-going user training and maintenance. We would have you covered.