User personas and DaaS could be IT’s answer to security challenges of remote work

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Use cases can make life easier for IT departments managing connectivity and access for thousands of home offices.

It’s time to stop waiting for a return to normal and face the fact that remote work is the new norm. There’s no going back to the office, according to a Gartner analyst, and IT departments need to adapt operations to reflect the reality of supporting hundreds or even thousands of home offices.

Instead of one or two standard desktop installations, IT teams need a way to support every kind of user from executive assistants to CEOs to developers to sales executives. This means defining use cases and user personas, according to Rob Smith, a senior research director at Gartner.

“Maybe before you had 5,000 employees going to a half a dozen offices, now you have 5,000 offices,” he said. “That is very different from what you’ve been doing.”

SEE: Top reasons why businesses should deploy Desktop as a Service (DaaS)  

Smith said that IT departments have to figure out the use case for a particular employee before deciding what tech configuration will work best. He identified four variables that should be defined for each use case:

  1. User: Who is it, and what is his or her job function?
  2. Device: What kind of device is it, and who owns it? 
  3. Data: What information does this person need, and where is this data located?
  4. Location: Where is the user working?

IT departments should develop use cases and use them to guide security and access parameters.

“If a person just needs Office 365, you could use the Microsoft tools to just secure that and be done,” he said.

Employees with access to more sensitive data need a stronger security solution, such as a cloud-access security broker or zero trust network access. 

“If there’s one truth out of 2020, it’s that no one wants to secure or manage anything any more, and there is no more information because there is no central office,” he said.

IT also has to factor in local privacy laws when defining use cases. GDPR applies to the European Union but individual countries have their own privacy laws as well. Smith lives in Amsterdam. 

“If I violate a privacy law in my home office, there’s a fine for Gartner, but if I drive to Germany and do that, it’s a crime,” he said. 

Another factor in location is bandwidth. People working in some cities will have gigabit ethernet connections, while employees in more rural areas will not have a connection anywhere near those speeds.

How DaaS can make remote work easier

Smith sees desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) as the solution to this complexity and said that he’s seen clients pivot to this solution to adjust to the new work environment. 

“A year ago if a client called about Daas, they might try a pilot project, but that changed quickly, and I have seen 250,000 installations in one company already,” he said.

SEE: Top desktop as a service (DaaS) providers: Amazon, Citrix, Microsoft, VMware, and more

John Abbott, a principal research analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence’s 451 Research, agreed that remote work is here to stay.

“Our recent Voice of the Enterprise surveys suggest that two out of three (67%) organizations expect expanded work-from-home policies to remain in place long-term or even permanently,” he said. 

Abbott said that the newer generation of cloud-native desktop services avoids the do-it-yourself integration complexity of traditional, on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure. 

“The performance of a cloud instance can be matched to the needs of specific users, ranging from a standard CPU instance through to fractional or full GPU-powered desktops or workstations,” he said.

Another advantage of DaaS is that desktops can be delivered from an employee’s local cloud region which could improve responsiveness and availability. 

Other advantages of DaaS include strong and consistently applied security, support for multiple end-point devices, rapid deployment, and lower and more predictable costs, according to Abbott.

“Longer term, if work patterns change unexpectedly, then the desktop-as-a-service model is flexible enough to support 100% remote working, 100% in the office, or (most likely) a hybrid of home and office,” he said.

However, as Brandon Vigliarolo explained in his article, “VDI vs. DaaS: What is the difference, and which is best for your virtualization needs?” DaaS is great for agile computing but the service can’t always replace the average employee’s desktop. 

Citrix’s Kenneth Oestreich said in the article that most DaaS providers offer the most basic desktop set up and that anything users need to do their jobs still has to be supplied and configured by the IT department.

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