The Corona Workplace: from surviving to structuring

In the lockdown, organizations switched quickly – letting employees work online at home was the number one priority. Although the emergency solutions will function to run, I see a great need for optimization. The big question I keep hearing: how to make the virtual (emergency) workstations in your organization more effective, efficient maintenance and above all future-proof, ready for any subsequent Covid-19 golf?

Now that the world and our economy has entered ‘the new normal’ – better term: ‘new reality’ – it is time to replace the sandbags with real dikes. To upgrade the fast, durable ‘Ducttape solutions’. Now that you know that Corona-like scenarios can reoccur, an organization must ask itself: if we had prepared and devised this solution when we had time, what choices would we have made?

In the first weeks of the lockdown, I also saw how many organizations have set up their ‘home working mode’ with a lot of creativity and flexibility. The great thing about the urgency of this situation was that decisions were made at a rapid pace about matters for which a lot of time was normally taken. The success of that operation has enabled many companies to survive the lockdown. And although the new online workplace usually functions adequately under circumstances, it still has the character of an emergency Duct tape solution in many organizations.

In times of acute crisis – as you can call the first weeks of the lockdown – the solutions had something like placing sandbags in front of an approaching storm surge. On that moment it was a successful solution, in the emergency efficiency was not always the biggest concern at that time.

The main reason for this check and for possible investments is that virtual and online work will largely be the norm and will continue. Nothing is as permanent as temporary things. We have in four months forced learned to support programs to work together with colleagues and clients and advising behind a screen. In this position in my speech I would like to make a big compliment to our employees. I am proud of how they have played a crucial role in the development of home workplaces for our customers. The customer situation and questions put a lot of pressure on them, while they also had to work at home. Employees with children also fulfilled a part-time educational role.

Traditional managers had to face it all during the lockdown. Their belief that their employees are more productive and work harder as they monitor was very tempted. For them, the lockdown was a ‘Crash course in Letting go for Managers’, because now they had to manage the output of employees instead of being in the office. Some have taken this up a notch by asking their employees a simple question, “How can I help you do your job well?” If you ask me, this period has shown that employees can also work productively at home. When people in the office without a supervisor do not contribute, they won’t do it at home.
I must make a note that it for any sales – and relationship manager is challenging to remotely, without the handshake and face-to-face contact, the confidence to win potential customers. If you are close to your customer want to create solutions, it is more difficult at a distance. This question that is not answered in just four months, there is more time needed. Furthermore, I do not want to idealize working online, because there are also disadvantages. Many office workers now like to go back to business because they have noticed that the working day at home never ends. In your head, closing your laptop is something different than driving home and enjoying the break from work in a traffic jam.

The key question: are the emergency measures for working company-wide online adequate even after the lockdown? This answer is clear in many organizations: certainly not. The challenges lie in many areas such as speed, manageability and availability of all applications. In the rush of the lockdown, performance wasn’t the most important thing – we were able to keep working, that was the priority.

The layout of the virtual workplaces also made clear at many companies that by no means all processes were fully digitized. This meant that employees had to return to the office regularly during the lockdown.

Then there is also the maintenance. If a company realized five types of virtual workspaces at the start of the lockdown, each with different application sets, then all five will require their own maintenance, including monthly updates from Microsoft, among others. All of these manually crafted types will eventually grow apart without automation, with all the support challenges and user frustrations that come with it. Automatically rebuilding the different types of workplaces with the latest updates based on recipes by means of tooling every month is important to give users a quality workplace in the future.

In addition, you must not forget that the home-working employee starts to set requirements for availability and performance. In survival mode, everything was okay, if working from home is increasingly becoming the norm, then it has to work, he says. In March, a less smooth login may have been acceptable, but now the slowness is starting to cause dissatisfaction.

And also consider the costs. Organizations have put in the last period everything to their processes going on and their turnover levels to hold. In the meantime, they have often incurred a lot of costs in organizing their virtual workplaces. Costs that – if they do not intervene – will continue considerably. If you keep doing what you did now, you will keep what you already had.

In short: after the temporary solutions – the sandbags – it is now time for structural quality and efficiency, to better and cheaper manageability. And above all: making it structurally better. In practice, this means, for example, that the updates for different application sets can be rolled out automatically, at the push of a button. Organizations can also do more to proactively monitor the virtual workplaces and pay more attention to a good user experience.

My advice: step out of the survival phase and work on structural solutions for management, with a longer shelf life and lower total cost of ownership.

Many directors and entrepreneurs are share my thoughts: it is not going to be the way it was. Virtual working has received a boost, that spirit does not go back into the bottle. A new short-term lockdown can still not be ruled out. In a while this virus may reappear, we may even have to deal with another virus. It is wise to prepare your organization for this and to have additional resistance built up. No organization can be made fully Corona-proof, but Corona-ready should still be the new standard.

Chris van Werkhoven, CTO Login Consultants

De voordelen van Windows Virtual Desktop in een VMware-omgeving

The benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop on a VMware Horizon environment

In previous blogs, we discussed the benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop for the business and for the IT department. We also showed that – in addition to the Windows Virtual Desktop solution as offered by Microsoft – you can also opt for Windows Virtual Desktop with the enriching Citrix shell. In this blog, Dennis Sigmond explains more about the possibilities of VMware Horizon Cloud combined with Windows Virtual Desktop.

DIFFERENT CLOUD PLATFORMS

VMware Horizon Cloud is a service you can use to offer virtual desktops or applications via the cloud. This involves a control plane – a management layer – which is administered by VMware. The workspaces themselves are usually administered by the clients themselves. These workspaces can be hosted on a number of cloud platforms – such as IBM Cloud, AWS, or Azure – but on-premise hosting is naturally also an option. In the case of Microsoft Azure, you can – as of this year – also offer Windows 7 and Windows Virtual Desktop, which essentially means offering Windows 10 Enterprise multi-sessions.

EXTENSIVE PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

VMware Horizon Cloud provides, as it were, an enriching layer on top of Windows Virtual Desktop. This enrichment is mainly seen in advanced management tooling and in the extensive portfolio of other products which make administering the environment easier. The entire end-user profile management, for example, is significantly easier with VMware Dynamic Environment Manager. Among other benefits, VMware Horizon Cloud offers personalization and dynamic policy configuration in every virtual, physical, and cloud-based Windows desktop environment. Additionally, VMware Horizon Cloud offers a cloud-based monitoring service which gives you a great deal of insight into how the environment is used, which applications are used most, which times of the day are the busiest, and more.

HELP DESK FEATURES

VMware Horizon Cloud also offers advanced help desk features so that first and second-line support staff can easily help users who work with Windows Virtual Desktop and have a problem. Help desk employees can take over functions, stop processes, close applications, log out an employee, or reset a session. What’s more, VMware Horizon Cloud offers all sorts of insights into how the desktop is running, such as the CPU and memory use.

POWER MANAGEMENT

Many clients use a Pay-As-You-Go subscription for the use of Azure VMs; if this is the case, it’s important to promptly disable (de-allocate) resources which are not being used. By disabling resources at times when there is less demand for the Windows Virtual Desktop environment, significant cost savings can be had. VMware Horizon Cloud offers extensive functions for dealing with this in a smart and automated manner.

ROLLING MAINTENANCE

When multiple employees are using the same Windows Virtual Desktop VM at the same time, it is important for these employees to have an equivalent user experience over a longer period of time. To do this, you need to regularly restart or rebuild the Windows Virtual Desktop. This action can also take place entirely automatically on the basis of a schedule of a number of days, fixed days during the week, or after a certain number of sessions. On the basis of your image, you can set the VM to be rolled out again after, for example, every hundred sessions; this means that there is almost no chance of contamination on your Windows Virtual Desktop VM. Automatically restarting the VM on the basis of the same options can also be selected. In both of these situations, the employees naturally experience no inconvenience.

ACCESS PORTAL

Last but not least, with VMware Horizon Cloud, the Workspace ONE Access portal is also provided. This is a portal where you can have all sorts of applications converge. These include SaaS applications, internet and intranet pages, on-premises Citrix and/or VMware Horizon environments, but also a Windows Virtual Desktop. It forms a type of collection point for all applications. This Access portal offers advanced options for security. For instance, you can turn on two-factor authentication and apply conditional access policies, such as when someone may or may not initiate a resource and, if so, under which conditions.

INTERESTED?

Curious about the entire set which VMware Horizon Cloud offers on top of the Windows Virtual Desktop? Curious whether the VMware solution is right for your organization? If you’re looking for someone who can help you configure Windows Virtual Desktop so it fits your organization perfectly, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to help you.

Dennis Sigmond 

 

De voordelen van Windows Virtual Desktop in een Citrix-omgeving

The benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop on a Citrix environment

Microsoft has given its Windows Virtual Desktop a somewhat strange name. Located on Microsoft Azure, Windows Virtual Desktop is actually a set of services which you can use to offer sessions. That may be a Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. For example, Citrix has built a shell around the Windows Virtual Desktop as offered by Microsoft to roll out a Citrix variation of Windows Virtual Desktop. And that has its advantages, explains Vincent van Zeijl in this blog.

OPTIMIZATION OF THE MICROSOFT ENVIRONMENT

If you opt for Windows Virtual Desktop in a Citrix environment, what’s under the bonnet looks totally different to when you use the services delivered by Microsoft. After all, you are using the Citrix services in their existing form in the Citrix cloud environment. Citrix originally built its environment as a layer on top of Microsoft Remote Desktop, a somewhat older Microsoft product which is not so easy to manage. The layer that Citrix built optimizes the entire Microsoft environment – previously with Microsoft Remote Desktop and now also with Windows Virtual Desktop. This optimization enables faster connections and easier management, and you can also view sessions and analyse problems via a website.

NO WORRIES

When you choose Citrix Managed Desktop, Citrix takes care of all your worries, makes doing the maintenance easier, and offers you more options. For example, they install the entire back-end infrastructure and workstations for you, and you also pay the Microsoft Azure fees to Citrix. This gives you just one invoicing address, which eliminates a lot of hassle. After all, you want to set about your work and not spend your time maintaining infrastructure.

NOT FOR THE BUILDERS

To work with the management of Windows Virtual Desktop, you must really understand what is going on. Citrix Director, on the other hand, can be used by anyone. It is a tool meant for the help desk, so they can easily perform actions such as viewing and resetting sessions or killing an application. You don’t have to be a software builder to use it.

BENEFITS FOR THE BUSINESS REMAIN

The benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop for the business, as Christiaan wrote about them in his blog, are still there, of course. And those benefits have become even better. You may pay a bit more for them, but you don’t need to already have – or obtain – as much knowledge in house for construction and maintenance, and that’s where you save. This is how you enjoy the benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop but leave all the hassle and the worries to someone else.

INTERESTED?

Curious whether the Citrix solution is right for your organization? If you’re looking for someone who can help you configure the Citrix variant of Windows Virtual Desktop, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to help you.

Vincent van Zeijl

 

De voordelen van Windows Virtual Desktop voor de IT-organisatie

The benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop for the IT organisation

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a Microsoft service you can deploy to offer your users a virtual Windows 10 workspace from the cloud. In a previous blog, we explained what the benefits of Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), a platform-as-a-service, are for the business. In this blog, we take a look at the IT benefits.

1 – SCALABILITY

As Christiaan already explained in his blog, one of the greatest advantages offered by Windows Virtual Desktop is its scalability. This feature provides benefits for the business but also certainly for the IT organization. If, for example, you are building a classic Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environment, you must first establish an entire infrastructure. You do that on the basis of requirements. One of those requirements is the number of users you estimate will work in that environment. Is that a hundred or is that a thousand? This number is a key factor in how you will build the environment and what you must invest in it. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you no longer have to worry about that because that infrastructure is now already offered from the cloud as a service. This means that you can set up a WVD environment for a small legal office just as easily as you can for a large corporate business – because the exact same WVD platform is available to everyone.

2 – TRIAL BALLOON

So, with WVD, you can relatively easily establish a proof of concept and you can very easily scale that up or down according to the client’s current needs. Previously, you had to take account of a large number of issues and once you had built the environment with all sorts of components, you just hoped that it would also be used and accepted. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can very easily put up a trial balloon to discover whether the WVD platform offers what the client is looking for. If that is the case, you can continue to build the environment. If not, you can look for a different solution.

3 – LICENSING COSTS

Many organizations are familiar with Microsoft. They already have licences for multiple Microsoft products and therefore often also for Windows Virtual Desktop. This means they can offer their users a hosted desktop without extra licensing costs from a different third-party supplier. Whether the Microsoft WVD solution offers them exactly what they need, or whether another market solution such as that from Citrix or VMware is more suitable, remains to be seen. But if the Microsoft WVD solution satisfies their requirements, this can quickly reduce licensing costs.

THE BIG PICTURE

Where you previously had to build a physical infrastructure in a data centre or on-premise at the client, this is now a thing of the past thanks to Windows Virtual Desktop. In many cases, extra licensing costs are eliminated and upscaling or downscaling is a snap. This does not alter the fact that you still must have sound knowledge of how to set up the Windows host where the end user lands and that you must have good insight into the wishes and needs of the client. For example: How do you deal with User Environment Management? How do you link the on-premise Active Directory to the Azure Active Directory? How do you deal with existing legacy applications? Establishing a standard WVD workspace can be done quickly, but how should this be integrated in the big picture? How do you administer such an environment if it runs in production? We have years of experience with hosted desktop environments and with linking a cloud environment to an organization’s existing environment. We also have a complete set of tools at our disposal to make all of this possible. Because we operate independently of any vendor, we can give you honest advice about what the best virtual workspace solution is for your organization.

INTERESTED?

If you’re looking for someone who can help you configure Windows Virtual Desktop and ensure that your employees have access to a suitable desktop-as-a-service, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to help you.

Benno Rummens

 

De voordelen van Windows Virtual Desktop voor de business

The benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop for business

Research by the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis suggests that the coronavirus crisis will permanently change the way in which we travel and work. If working from home becomes more commonplace, it will have a positive effect on current problems such as traffic jams and CO2 emissions. All of this means that a future-proof workplace will be essential. Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) can provide precisely that – a platform-as-a-service that can give your users a virtual Windows 10 workplace from the cloud, with access to their desktop and applications at any time and from anywhere. In this blog, we’ll look at the four benefits of WVD for business.

1 Simple to scale

WVD is offered as a cloud service, which means that it can be scaled both up and down with ease. In the event of fusions and takeovers, you can ensure that your new employees have the standard workplace in no time. In addition, if your business recruits seasonal workers, temporary contractors, or partners, you can easily provide them with access to your network and business applications without major investment expenditure.

2 Costs

This flexibility has a cost benefit in that you can scale your users up and down on a monthly basis, paying a monthly fee for only those workplace resources that have actually been used. You never pay for resources that you don’t use.

3 Accessible form all devices, from anywhere

WVD is available worldwide, which means that access is available from anywhere. If you have an internet connection, you have a workplace, which is very useful in times like these. Even call centre staff who would normally work from a large open-plan office can enjoy access to all applications and communications functions with WVD. Employees who prefer to work from their own device, such as a MacBook, can also obtain access to the corporate workplace with WVD. In addition, WVD allows you to grant temporary access to companies developing software for you. The developers will then know that the software they are creating actually works within your landscape.

4 Security

WVD runs in the cloud, so the data stays in the cloud too. It is never stored locally on laptops or other devices, significantly reducing the risk of data leaks, which is especially important in finance, healthcare, and government.

Enabling it is just the start…

Microsoft provides Windows Virtual Desktop as a platform-as-a-service. Enabling it alone does not mean that your employees will have immediate access to a complete workplace just yet. Once the WVD machines have been enabled, it’s important that they are monitored and kept up to date in terms of security patches and functionality: the right applications need to be installed, data need to be accessible, and the experience needs to be kept at a high level. In short, Windows Virtual Desktop still needs to be configured so that you can give your employees a desktop-as-a-service.

Interested?

If you’re looking for someone who can help you configure Windows Virtual Desktop and ensure that your employees have access to a suitable desktop-as-a-service, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to help you.

Christiaan de Vin

Wat als jij de helft van je projecten zou stopzetten?

Three reasons to use Managed Services

IT is an indispensable part of modern business operations, as it’s all the more important that you are able to guarantee the continuity of your IT processes and give your employees 24/7 access from anywhere. This is something that you can manage in-house, but you can also opt to outsource at least some of it. In this blog, Arno Diefenbach, Operations Manager at Login Consultants, discusses three reasons for using managed services.

1 Full attention to the core business

You can choose a managed services structure for strategic reasons. Do you feel that workplaces, including the underlying infrastructure, should just be there when they’re needed? Do you consider your IT a bit like water from the tap or electricity from the wall and would prefer to devote your energy to your core business? By choosing a good managed services partner, you can enjoy a flexible IT infrastructure where quality, performance, and availability are guaranteed.

2 Hire in expertise of additional help

If you have your own IT department with a good team of experienced and skilled people, but just need an extra pair of hands or a bit of added expertise in certain areas, then managed services would be a good fit. Imagine that your IT team doesn’t have the expertise to deal with Citrix, but that expertise is something you need. You can opt to outsource that particular area, while your IT department can look after the rest of your IT. These days, when the labour market is pretty tight, this can be a useful solution. In addition, if you need some temporary extra capacity or a little flexibility and speed, managed services can be helpful.

3 24/7 Availability

For certain companies, having an IT environment that is operational 24/7 is important so that users can work day and night without encountering problems or challenges. If you work with an experienced managed services partner, you’ll have 24/7 access to specialist expertise in the IT workplace and you can be confident that your employees will be able to work without interruption at any time of the day (or night).

Want to learn more?

Our engineers are specialists in Citrix, VMWare, and Microsoft. We keep our expertise continuously up to date. Our managed services allow you to move the responsibility for the workplace and application infrastructure wholly or partly into someone else’s hands, allowing you to focus entirely on your core business. If you’re interested in what solution best fits your needs, please get in touch for a no-obligation discussion. We would be happy to discuss the possibilities with you.

 

Het belang van een mobiele strategie

The importance of a mobile strategy

Employees are working with ever increasing flexibility, and that has implications for their workplace. In this blog, Erwin Klaver, Senior Consultant at Login Consultants, explains why it’s important to have a mobile strategy and what the five key considerations are.

Fewer worries thanks to standardization

Remote working is becoming more and more important, especially for a mobile workplace. Anytime, any place, anywhere is the new standard, and especially now, when it is more important than ever before. By working with a standardized workplace, and so a standardized mobile workplace as well, you can reduce your IT department’s workload, lower your costs, and allow your company to focus on what it’s good at – its core business.

1 Managed or unmanaged

When it comes to a mobile workplace from the cloud, employees can work securely from both their own device (BYOD) and a device provided by their organization (CYOD). This is possible with both a managed and unmanaged workplace. With an unmanaged workplace, you can opt for data security: the applications and data behind the applications are secured based on App Protection. In addition, you can force employees to use Microsoft Outlook instead of the Apple or Google Mail (Android) mail app, irrespective of the device they are using. This can be regulated with Conditional Access. If you opt for a managed workplace, whether it’s a Windows, iOS, or Android device, then you can enjoy workplace security. In this case, you can enforce both policy and far-reaching settings in much the same way that they are traditionally configured.

2 Ensure a platform-independent workplace

Platform independence is extremely important. The look and feel of the workplace must always be the same whether your users are working with Windows 10, iOS, or Android.

3 Enforce good security

Protecting the identity of your employees is increasingly important, and logging in with just a username and password is no longer enough. With a mobile workplace strategy, you can ensure that multi-factor authentication is enforced. Logging in with a PIN or facial recognition technology are new kinds of login that render usernames and passwords obsolete. Yubikey and the Microsoft Authenticator app on a mobile phone are also secure, password-free login alternatives.

4 Manage the workplace with Microsoft Intune

A good cloud workplace is built on Microsoft best practices – in other words, management is carried out from Microsoft Intune, Microsoft’s platform for integrated management of all devices, both business and personal. It allows you to support multiple mobile ecosystems, from iOS and Android to Windows and MacOS, stay up to date with a scalable and globally accepted cloud service architecture, and fully protect your data.

5 Provide ease of use with self-service

If your employees can install their devices themselves, it can save your IT department a lot of work. Microsoft Windows Autopilot, perhaps used in combination with white glove, allows your employees to do just that – without having to involve the IT department. It is also available for Apple, with Apple Business Manager, and Android, with Android Enterprise. You should also consider self-service password reset, so that users can reset their passwords or adjust multi-factor authentication without having to contact IT.

How would the transition work?

Is your organization ready for the transition to a mobile workplace? We can help you. We start the process with a workshop, where we will establish the requirements and preferences of your organization. We’ll then use this as the basis for a design. If you can see your organization in the design, we can begin the technical implementation, test phase, and pilot phase, before the environment starts production. It’s important that this kind of environment is introduced correctly and that its added value is clear to employees. We will also make sure that adoption gets sufficient attention.

Want to learn more?

If you’re curious as to what this could mean for you, please get in touch for a no-obligation discussion. We look forward to discussing the possibilities with you.

 

By: Erwin Klaver, Senior Consultant