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Ben Saunders

How Virtual Desktops in the Cloud Can Get Your Business Productive in TWO Weeks

There Is Now A Remote Working Boom

These unprecedented circumstances mean that businesses need to find new, more flexible ways of enabling their workers.

Enterprises need to enable thousands of employees to do their work remotely. But these behaviours are placing significant strain on their existing virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), as thousands of people attempt to connect to their systems simultaneously.

VDIs Are Struggling

There are a few reasons why your existing VDI might not be up to this massive new task.

Stress: existing VDI stacks have never been stress tested to these levels

Performance: they have not been placed under the demands of modern application stacks that dictate higher CPU thresholds and graphics requirements

Bandwidth: network concentration is a prohibiting factor in download speeds

Licenses: do you have enough licenses? Can you get them quickly enough?

Scalability: they cannot scale on-demand and increasing capacity requires significant time and resources

I’ve even spoken with some organisations that are still standing up VDIs that leverage Microsoft XP….you know who you are!

Virtual Desktops in the Public Cloud

AWS and Microsoft Azure both offer a virtual desktop solution that allows you to provision workspaces on demand for all your users, while staying secure. 

Providing access to a VDI capability which is cloud hosted, secure and economical affords an attractive proposition for customers at a point when it is crucial their business remains productive. These resources can be instantiated on-demand, using defined patterns and blueprints that meet your organisation's information security risk management needs.

  • AWS WorkSpaces
  • Windows Virtual Desktop

What advantages do they have over on-premises solutions?

Massive Scalability: hosted in the cloud, they scale automatically to meet demand

Rapid Deployment: provision new instances in minutes 

Integrated With Your Apps: Using AWS Direct Connect (or similar) you can connect to your corporate networks and the apps you need such as AD, SAP, Sharepoints, Intranets, Confluence, Jira etc. 

Maintain Identical Security Posture: you can maintain the same (if not improved!) security posture in the cloud. You can enforce log-ins through Active Directory, Multi-Factor Authentication etc. You can control user permissions and access as well as patching.

Less Hassle: the cloud provider takes care of all updates, patches

Cost Effective: cloud workspaces are more cost-effective than on-premises alternatives, despite being more flexible. Billing works on a pay-as-you-go basis, with unused desktops automatically shutting down.

We Can Help Your Organisation Provision Virtual Desktops in the Cloud in TWO Weeks

At Contino, we have seen a surge in demand from our customers, both existing and new to help them address the VDI challenges I described earlier.

We are able to leverage our cloud accelerators to provision virtual desktops for your people and get your business moving in a little under two weeks.

We can help you to:

  • Provision virtual desktops at scale to meet your internal service needs
  • Provision Landing Zones and Cloud Foundations across AWS and Azure
  • Establish network routing for your desktop infrastructure
  • Apply any firewall changes that would enable ingress and egress routing to the public internet or your organization's internal network

As a base level, we can support your organisation in packaging up core business applications that are mission critical to your workforce and where required. We can also deploy Tiger Teams across each business unit to collate a prioritised list of systems that require packaging for new operating systems, test them through our automated AWS Landing Zone route to live and promote them to your production VDI infrastructure to get your business moving.

[Case Study] Contino Helps a Major Energy Company Make an Emergency Switch to AWS Workspaces

Our method of attack has already been proven for one of our clients, a global residential energy supplier, to build out 2000 workspaces in AWS in a little over two weeks.

They had already leveraged our AWS Landing Zone accelerator to deliver a new product to market, so a number of foundational principles were already in place. We have also applied a standardised tagging strategy to track the consumption of the compute resources across business units. Even in these unchartered waters, enterprise organisations still need to cross-charge!

The Challenge: A Contino customer needed to transition thousands of their employees to remote work.

But their VPN would never have been able to handle the strain. Building out their VPN’s capacity would have involved provisioning new on-premises hardware - a costly and time-consuming effort. The customer's existing on-premise Citrix estate was also under-provisioned and outdated and would have required significant time and resources to support this critical new use case.

The Solution: We are using their existing AWS Landing Zone to set up 2,000 AWS Workspaces instances following industry best practice with regards to version control, automated pipelines and infrastructure-as-code.

Fully automated pipelines provision the underlying infrastructure while pipelines triggered by requests in ServiceNow provision individual Workspaces in an on-demand fashion.

A line manager can request via ServiceNow that certain users be provisioned with Workspaces with certain access controls. ServiceNow makes a REST API call to API Gateway which in turn triggers a Lambda function to automatically start provisioning the Workspaces. Finally a callback is triggered to ServiceNow where the ticket is closed and the users are notified that their new Workspaces environment is ready to be used.

We Aren’t Stopping Just At Virtual Desktops

Your customers need just as much attention as your employees.

Our customers are struggling in three other areas:

  • Customer engagement
  • Customer communication
  • Customer self-service

Here’s how we can help:

Boosting Customer Engagement: Amazon Connect

We are helping a number of customers to boost the systems they use to engage with their customers. Many call centres are not established for remote working, yet there is a surge in demand across industries as the current situation continues to unfold.

We are helping to deploy Cloud Hosted Contact Centres like AWS Connect, to provide additional bandwidth to cope with growing call volumes and enable faster customer resolution times. This can also be integrated with your Landing Zone and Cloud Foundations, to provide an interconnected solution with your VDI estate.

Rapid Customer Communications: SaaS-based DevOps toolchains

Where many enterprises previously accepted weeks as a means to deliver new content and communications to their customers, we are working to build-out SaaS based DevOps toolchains that allows for much faster delivery of news, communications and content to their customers during this challenging period.

Customer Self-Service: Automated solutions like chat bots

We are also supporting many organisations to better understand how self-service solutions can remove friction from their customer experience offerings by implementing Chat Bots to address general FAQs and support the resolution of non-critical customer queries, so that a larger focus can be spent on helping vulnerable customers through telephony channels.

Cloud Is an Enabler for Customer Experience

It is during times of trouble, that we all become a whole lot more creative and accept solutions that we wouldn’t usually consider to enable our businesses to thrive.

Stay safe and stay tuned in, as we continue to share some of Contino’s best practice cloud solutions with you, from our global workforce.

Want to learn more? Join us on 2 April for a FREE webinar where we will cover how you can set up and scale virtual desktops to meet your internal services needs.

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