20 May

Is Your IT Team Configuring & Deploying Hundreds (Or Thousands) Of Laptops? You Are Probably Doing Telework All Wrong

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If you are sending custom configured laptops out to your newly telework-enabled workforce, you are probably doing telework the wrong way.

Data risk and intellectual property security have become huge concerns now that laptops and workers are no longer in centralized workplaces. Though there are fully mature cloud-based companies, most are somewhere midway along the evolutionary spectrum.

In recent weeks there have been many cases of companies proudly boasting how they were able to purchase, configure and mobilize thousands of laptops on a short notice, getting them out of customs, and into the hands of newly isolated workers.


With virtualized desktops, also known as Desktop-as-a-Service, employers can spool up or eliminate thousands of virtual PCs, including extremely high performance workstations for graphics, analytics or science—or very inexpensive instances for basic customer service or web apps—with no data at all present on any machine “out in the wild,” or outside of premises or secure company data assets.

There are several options; I am most familiar with Amazon Workspaces, but there are alternatives from Microsoft on Azure, Rackspace, and others. Suppose one of your remote workers has a cheap, basic laptop but a decent internet connection. You can deploy a virtual desktop to a very high-powered machine running a software platform, fully licensed, like Alteryx or Adobe After Effects and Windows Professional tied into your corporate directory via this worker’s cheap laptop. The user interface is remote, but the actual computing takes place back in the data center, and the data stays secure, never leaving the data center either.

“Ah but After Effects will run really slowly, because it’s media!” No, because it isn’t running on the remote laptop. It’s running in the data center on a virtualized instance with more than enough computing power allocated for the task at hand.

From Amazon’s website: “You can use Amazon WorkSpaces to provision either Windows or Linux desktops in just a few minutes and quickly scale to provide thousands of desktops to workers across the globe. You can pay either monthly or hourly, just for the WorkSpaces you launch, which helps you save money when compared to traditional desktops and on-premises VDI solutions. Amazon WorkSpaces helps you eliminate the complexity in managing hardware inventory, OS versions and patches, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which helps simplify your desktop delivery strategy.” 

If that laptop is stolen, there is no data on it. If you only need that application occasionally, you don’t pay for it while you are not using it. Security settings can be enabled so that no data can be downloaded or uploaded locally. You can configure access to I/O and user interface connections such as USB ports, storage, headsets, etc. on a per user basis. You can decide whether to allow contractors or employees to use their own PCs without having to “lock them down” because they essentially become media rich “dumb terminals,” or you can deploy standardized, generic low-cost remote laptops and not worry about remote management, security, or configuration management.

This is a solution that works globally, as long as you have a good broadband connection to the endpoint. If you are not familiar with Desktop-as-a-Service, you really need to be. Contact me by responding to this email if you need guidance.


Above photo: the unique Asus Zenbook UX581 laptop with a second screen above the keyboard (you are welcome to send me one, by the way!)

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