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Taking back control of the network

04 Nov 2013

We’ve all used a personal device to check work emails or edit a confidential document – regardless of whether our employers approve.

With the proliferation of connected consumer devices, and increased connectivity capabilities we’re becoming an increasingly mobile workforce; working on the go and from a number of devices.

This delivers many business benefits, such as increased staff satisfaction and productivity, but it’s not without challenges.

With multiple devices looking to connect to the enterprise network, organisations must ensure it is secure and that employees only have access to the information relevant to them.

The security challenge posed by mobile connectivity is often quoted as the barrier preventing businesses from embracing mobility and implementing bring your own device (BYOD) strategies.

However, the reality is that employees are working remotely whether such policies are in place or not, meaning those opting not to implement them on security grounds are often more at risk than those with dedicated programs in place.

For organisations looking to implement effective mobility strategies – empowering staff to work on the go and from any device – there is a host of technology to choose from, one of which is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

VDI is a low-risk mobility solution that virtualises the work desktop environment so that staff can still use the same applications and access the relevant information regardless of their location or platform.

Virtualising the desktop means data is stored centrally so it never leaves the data centre. As such, IT teams do not need to worry about consumer devices accessing the network remotely as the security networks used internally will now be replicated outside of the traditional office environment.

Today, virtualisation is about securing network applications and data, and delivering them as a service, rather than managing the device itself.

With increasing numbers of organisations expected to offer corporate application stores to staff over the next five years, encouraging independence from the helpdesk and delivering mobility as a service will be key.

One organisation that has seen strong results with VDI is RMIT University – one of Australia’s leading technology and design universities – which wanted to reduce its number of computer labs from twenty to zero.

By implementing an effective VDI solution, students were given access to the applications they needed when and where required, without compromising private and sensitive organisational data. The university has seen great results since going live, and in 2012 95% of the student intake for that year already had a laptop that could run a virtual environment.

In addition to employing the relevant virtualisation security software, organisations should consider constructing a security perimeter around their datacenters. This can be done by installing a firewall to ensure the network is immune to the risks created by the growing volume of personal devices accessing it.

By placing a perimeter around an organisation’s data centre instead of just the internet, all traffic is deemed untrusted or semi-trusted, adding an additional layer of security.

Furthermore, the centralised approach of VDI gives organisations the ability to impose granular access to the network by limiting such things as USB and printing access as well as managing remote access to sensitive information.

With BYOD and mobility continuing to grow in the workplace, it’s that essential organisations take back control of networks through technologies such as VDI.

What’s more, those willing to embrace the workplace of tomorrow will not just have secure networks, they’ll have satisfied and productive staff working from a device of their choosing, helping to deliver winning results.

By Safi Obeidullah, systems engineering manager, Citrix

Safi Obeidullah is the systems engineering manager at Citrix where he is responsible for managing a team of system engineers, supporting the sales function and engaging with enterprise customers. He has more than 15 years’ experience in technology solutions, sales and management.

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