The Workspace Challenge
Most businesses immediately realize the value of the cloud – lower investment costs, convenience, and flexibility, but not all businesses are ready to make a full leap of all their business applications, data, and network, into the cloud. And while many businesses are concerned with securing their network, businesses like banks and hospitals have the added concern of compliance that mandate security requirements that are not always “cloud-friendly.”
Is there a cost-effective solution for the organization that has 5 or more desktops to maintain but wants the convenience, flexibility and lower cost of a cloud solution, without having to move everything to the cloud? Traditionally the answer has been no, until the emergence of a new technology that enables IT to customize what a user sees on their desktop and/or device, the types of apps and data they have access to while staying within the limits of compliance, security, and cost. This alternative is called Workspace as a Solution (WaaS), and in this blog we will lay out some of the reasons why this is an attractive alternative to both on-premise and Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
WaaS. What’s that?
With so many acronyms in IT, it can be easy to miss this one. Workspace as a Service is a form of desktop virtualization that companies utilize to provide their employees with access to business applications and data from anywhere at any time using the employee's device of a choice. Unlike Desktop as a Service (DaaS) which requires users to move their servers, files and databases into the cloud in order to create a virtual environment, WaaS gives IT and line of business managers the ability to move only select applications and data onto a specific device via the cloud while keeping certain data points, files and applications out of reach for specific users. If you are a hospital who has just hired on a new doctor and the doctor needs access to EMR and patient data, that doctor is given precisely that—just the applications and data he/she needs to do their job. What used to require a virtual environment with a separate login to the entire network, is now consolidated and customized to exactly what each user needs.
Why WaaS over DaaS?
As we alluded to this in the prior section, there is a difference between WaaS and DaaS. In simple terms, DaaS is a cloud computing offering in which a third party hosts the back end of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment. All the necessary support infrastructure, including storage and network resources, reside in the cloud. Historically, vendors such as Citrix and VMware provide IT with the "puzzle pieces" to bolt various parts of the network together, allowing users access to the network virtually.
The challenge with this type of approach is 3-fold:
1. It can prove to be time-consuming and costly.
With DaaS, your IT provider must bolt together multiple different tools for application layering management, file server management, profile management, data layer management and even networking to make it all work together. As you can imagine this can be both a time consuming and costly approach since you must pay for licensing servers, and expertise.
WaaS, by contrast, provides cloud-based management of the network applications and data but does not require the additional layering of server, data and profile management, and a WaaS solution can be served up within minutes. Minute's verses hours and expertise make WaaS an attractive alternative.
2. If everything is in the cloud, then security and compliance come into question.
On a DaaS platform, all employees have the same access to everything on the network regardless of what they actually need. This poses a real problem for organizations who are governed by compliance regulatory organizations such as OSHA, FCA, HIPPA, SEC, etc. Bottom line is that not everyone needs access to the same things and the entire network does not necessarily need to reside in the cloud.
Using the WaaS approach, IT provisions a software-defined data center that delivers applications and access to certain files wherever a user is and whatever device the user chooses to use. The biggest value WaaS has over DaaS is its ability to give organizations like banks and hospitals the ability to maintain compliance and reduce its exposure to cybertheft that often results from exposure of your entire network in the cloud.
3. Maintaining a virtual desktop environment requires highly technical expertise to set-up and manage.
File server management, profile management, data layer management and networking monitoring all have to work together when your entire system lives in the cloud. It goes without saying that highly technical expertise is required to make the DaaS environment work, along with certifications, licensing and other requirements. What makes WaaS so attractive to both the CFO, who looks at the investment costs and the IT manager, who manages the network is the fact that WaaS essentially lifts the entire local area network that had existed on premises and brings it into the cloud at a fraction of the cost. Think of it this way, you can take all the individual components of network management and rather than have them be discrete items administered by a highly technical person, automate them as a collection and allow an IT administrator to select rules as to when they are used. What is meaningful to your internal IT person is the ability to deliver all of a user’s apps and data via the cloud with defined rules that secure data but does not require highly technical expertise to set-up and manage.
BYOD Made Employee Friendly
Gartner projected in 2015 that more than 40% of companies will mandate BYOD policies in 2017 and that figure will more than double to 85% by 2020. Fast forward to 2018 and every employee brings his/her own device to work. Companies that have traditionally used mobile device management or mobile application management to maintain corporate BYOD policies have adversely led to employee’s personal data being wiped- and that’s no fun for anyone.
Today, WaaS offers businesses the ability to support BYOD environments. WaaS allows your internal team to determine which apps a user needs to do their job successfully without crossing the barrier between personal and professional data usage on a device. Remote wipes no longer threaten to deleted years of the user’s smartphone photos and personal contact information. With WaaS, only the important applications from the network are shared and those same applications can just as easily be turned off in the event that a device is lost or stolen.
Give Me the Advantages of WaaS in a Nutshell
- No Costly Infrastructure to Support: With WaaS, you no longer need extensive hardware infrastructures such as terminal servers and data backup to push desktop data to the cloud.
- Reduced IT Workload: With traditional VDI, you need a third-party patching, Active Directory, remote monitoring and management, provisioning from Citrix, and the list goes on… With WaaS, it’s all wrapped up in a single pane of glass dashboard display for easy device maintenance, review, and changes.
- Partial Instead of Full Cloud Deployment: With WaaS, only the management portion of the user’s desktop is in the cloud. All your desktops and servers are still in-house giving IT the control and capability to deliver higher service levels than with generic public cloud offerings.
- Ability to Sync All devices from One View: Securely access and share files wherever you go, on any device. Work on your files offline or on the go. Then once you reconnect, your data auto-syncs, allowing others to access the most recent version.
- Secured Collaboration for Greater Team Productivity: Designed to enhance collaboration and lessen the need for an FTP, team shares provide various options to work more efficiently. Users can manage how files are shared, set download limits and expiration dates, and send out share links and notifications to everyone in the group.
- Enhanced Shared Control for IT: A unified dashboard, comprehensive reporting, remote wipes, and granular controls make it easy for administrators to manage how company data is shared—both internally and between third parties.
- Enterprise-Grade Security: WaaS offers the highest level of security to safeguard data—256-bit AES encryption at rest and in transit. Along with enterprise-grade encryption and features, like remote wipe, when needed, you can require a 2-step authentication for that extra layer of protection.
- Real-Time Back up: WaaS allows you to sync data to the cloud, giving access to files between servers, computers and other devices. Continuous backups and rapid restores ensure that teams have real-time access to the most recent file versions.
The Ideal Candidate for WaaS
If you manage more than five desktops, Workspace as a Service (WaaS) is a cloud alternative you cannot afford to ignore. Simply compare the cost of infrastructure, management, licensing and expertise to the low monthly cost of WaaS. Your ability to eliminate expensive upgrades and infrastructure with easy, secure file sharing to full desktop functionality, real-time access, automatic backups, and full control in the cloud, is a clear advantage to on-premise and/or all-in-the-cloud desktop environments.
Want to compare WaaS to On-Premises and DaaS Environments? Download our WaaS Comparison Guide. Get the information you need to make a better decision.
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