Thought Leadership

Virtual Workplaces Are Here to Stay

Virtual Workplaces Are Here to Stay

Janesh Moorjani, President, Enterprise and Public Sector, Cisco India and SAARC

India, just like other parts of the world, is witness to a change in the way employees work. Mobility is becoming important and physical presence in office is no longer a measure of productivity. A new generation of multimedia-savvy employees brings mobile devices into the workplace expecting to be connected from wherever they are: home, hotels, airports, etc.

Smartphones, PDAs and tablets that come equipped with social networking capabilities are increasingly becoming important to stay connected to personal networks while also enabling organizations to enhance employee productivity by offering a secured, context-aware, role-based connectivity to the corporate network.

Mobile networks are providing increased access to an ever-expanding array of high-bandwidth applications and data services to mobile subscribers. As the internet becomes all-pervasive, IDC estimates that the number of mobile devices accessing the internet globally will surpass one billion by 2013. Mobile data traffic in India will grow 114-fold between 2010 and 2015.

With firms hiring younger and more tech-savvy employees with loftier mobility expectations, IT departments need to support a wider array of mobile devices, operating systems and applications. Organizations have to think of new ways to secure data transfer without compromising on data confidentiality. New usage models and changing business practices will need IT to support a dynamic workforce both in terms of service delivery and security.

Unmanaged devices need to be screened for the right security updates and patch levels before they are allowed on to the network. Once authenticated, they need to be assigned a policy to determine the level of access. IT needs to consider how to protect the device from connecting to an unsecured network and how to handle sensitive data when family or friends use this non-corporate asset.

Virtual desktop infrastructure:

As networks become wider, more open applications and data no longer reside strictly within the enterprise walls. So, organizations need to design architectures that help maintain corporate security and deliver user services that heighten business agility.

Architectures such as desktop virtualization, for example, can help centralize employee desktops, applications and improve business agility. Also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), they help decouple a user's physical machine from the desktop environment. VDI emulates the PC hardware environment of the client within a virtual machine. The virtual machines may be located either within a data centre and accessed using a thin client (for remote processing), or may reside on a local PC alongside the existing operating system (for local processing).

VDI solutions help consolidate hundreds and thousands of desktops and enable them to run on just a few servers. VDI helps to easily manage and deploy desktops, meet compliance and security guidelines, and reduce total cost of operations.

A VDI environment helps users access various apps as dictated by their personal profile and brings about additional benefits in terms of reduced support costs. Solutions that are vendor-agnostic can support various applications using the same infrastructure.

The future:

Recent times have seen acceleration in VDI deployments because enterprises seek greater IT efficiencies. As the consumerization of IT - bring your own device - becomes the order of the day in most enterprises, employees demand greater mobility and enhanced collaborative experiences across devices.

Enterprises, therefore, seek architectures that can overcome challenges of traditional desktop virtualization to enable employees connect with friends, family, colleagues and customers anytime, anywhere and from any device, foster business innovation and promote operational excellence.

Solutions that facilitate virtualization of video and rich media to deliver richer customer experience will become a required asset. Those that simplify traditional architectures will help reduce the number of devices that must be purchased, configured and secured, decrease total cost of ownership, improve business agility, reduce operational complexity and enable better IT responsiveness.

Solutions that facilitate easier virtualization and governance of data, video and other network traffic for mobile workforces will enable all categories of workers to access corporate IT applications and operating systems securely in any workplace environment, over any network. They will enable workers to be more connected, collaborative and productive and deliver a flexible infrastructure so that the entire organization benefits from virtual workforce initiatives such as working from home.

IT organizations can use such solutions for timely deployment of the latest client services, applications and end-point devices to provide a consistently productive user experience, while controlling infrastructure costs and protecting business assets.

IT can more quickly and easily adapt, protect, secure and empower the business with fast and flexible virtual workspace delivery models, improved compliance, uncompromised efficiency and worker productivity. Going forward, such innovations will help address the varied requirements of both enterprises and consumers, changing the concept of the 'office' as we know it today, completely.

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