By BRAD PETERSON
The combination of remote work and sudden outages doesn’t have to shut an organization down. Provider outages offer an opportunity to look at how cloud computing – and specifically cloud desktops – can give organizations the resilience they need to keep their employees productive while also maintaining business continuity and network security.
The VPN approach to DR
Though VPN has been a long-standing option for managing remote work in times of security and of crisis, many organizations have encountered performance bottlenecks and security concerns. In light of the fact that supporting remote work is likely a long-term necessity, the VPN option introduces too many security risks and productivity barriers. Some companies have expanded their use of on-premises VDI with varying degrees of success, but long-term, these solutions are too rigid for a future that requires the flexibility and agility to be ready for anything at any time.
Many companies have looked to the cloud as a long-term solution to support a flexible “work from anywhere” strategy, which seems like a sound plan overall. However, if you just move all your critical services, including end-user computing, into a single cloud region, then you have simply moved the outage risk from your on-premises infrastructure to a single cloud infrastructure. While probably more immune to outages than on-premises infrastructure, there is still a risk. So, how can you mitigate that risk?
The multi-region advantage
If you have a cloud desktop solution that resides in one cloud region, and that region goes down, your users can’t access their cloud desktops, and that shuts down your business. The cost of that kind of outage must be considered as you evaluate the ROI of solution options. It is also possible today in some instances to set up your cloud desktops to fail-over to an alternate cloud region. So, if your primary region goes down, everyone’s cloud desktop is available in another cloud region, and employees can just keep working without missing a beat.
The cloud desktop approach to DR
A complete DR plan involves more than cloud desktops, of course. But by including them in your DR plan, you will be able to support people getting back to work within minutes or hours, from any device, and from anywhere they have an internet connection. That is a powerful resource in terms of protecting productivity and business continuity.
Using the option of cloud desktops, you have 24/7 availability of standby, virtual desktops that can be activated on demand with a single click. You can be back up and running within minutes or hours. End users can connect to virtual desktops from anywhere on any device.
Cloud desktops don’t require testing, as many parts of a DR plan do. But if that makes you uncomfortable or you need to prove they work for regulatory reasons, you can “test” your DR PC-readiness with a single click at any time. No one else will notice, and you will not disturb the normal course of business.
If an internet outage or any other business disruption occurs, employees just switch to their cloud PCs or GPU workstations. Because it is possible to host your cloud PC in the cloud region geographically closest to your users, they are likely to experience good performance – possibly even better than when they’re at the office. And, as noted above, the outage of an entire cloud region won’t be a disaster if you’ve set up an alternate cloud region.
The security angle
Cloud desktops enable users to access their work from anywhere, using any device – but not all remote work set-ups are created equal. They can introduce new security risks that could potentially take down your business – which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
Just as with any other cloud initiative, keep your security top of mind. Will data remain on edge devices? Will data be encrypted? Is IP theft possible? What user errors might jeopardize security? Think through the entire project so remote work becomes a business enabler rather than a liability.
Advantage: cloud desktops
Companies can lose thousands to millions of dollars a day due to downtime, depending on their size. It’s critical to have a DR/business continuity plan in place, but legacy DR plans are cumbersome and difficult to test. As the current pandemic has shown, DR and business continuity have become more complicated than merely finding an alternate office site for all employees.
Today’s cloud desktops have the flexibility and agility to withstand provider outages and even cloud region outages, if configured properly. Employees either experience no disruption in work or get back to work quickly, all within a secure environment. This set-up protects against business loss and may even provide a competitive advantage, making you an attractive partner that can keep going regardless of what life may throw your way.