Reinventing the Workplace with Windows VD

Reinventing the Workplace with Windows VD

What is Windows Virtual Desktop and what are the key benefits?

 

Windows VD is a desktop and app virtualisation service that runs in the cloud. It allows users to access their desktop and applications from anywhere and from any device. With built in intelligent security it can be deployed in minutes and can bring down existing costs with its pay for what you use model. As part of the Microsoft Cloud Services suite, Windows VD can be used within your existing M365 or Windows per user licence.

Access from Anywhere

Windows VD delivers a virtual desktop experience to any device making it an ideal IT solution for remote workers. Thanks to the Covid pandemic the remote workforce is now well established in most businesses and is likely to continue. To maintain productivity levels the remote workforce is more dependent on Cloud Services than ever before. With Microsoft’s Cloud Services and infrastructure, businesses can set up multi session Windows 10 deployments which are optimised to run in multi-user virtual environments. From a user’s perspective the desktop experience, no matter what device they use, is exactly the same as sitting in the office at a traditional PC.

Cloud technology

Reduced Cost of Ownership

From a cost perspective Windows VD is an ideal IT Solution that negates the need to purchase, deploy and maintain physical hardware. If your business already subscribes to Microsoft Cloud Services, M365 or an enterprise version of Windows you can create a virtual desktop for each user for free. Talk to your IT Service Provider to find out what is involved in setting up Windows VD for your business.

Scalability

Windows VD is managed through the Microsoft Azure Portal. You can scale up and down as your business dictates. Azure admins can allocate virtual RAM, create additional CPUs, allocate more storage etc.. quickly and easily through the Microsoft Azure Portal.

Security

If employees are working remotely it is inevitable that sensitive company data will be transferred and stored locally at some point which opens a business to risk. Throw in that many employees will be using personal unsecured devices and the risk is increased. With Windows VD the virtual machines are secured within Azure cloud. Data is protected by built in security protocols including Azure Firewall, Azure Sentinel, MFA and Advanced Threat Protection. Role based access can be determined also using the Azure infrastructure. Your IT Service Provider will be able to advise you on the best mix of IT security measures to suit your business needs.

Simplified IT Management

Through the Azure portal admins can easily configure a network and deploy desktops and security measures with just a few clicks. Centralised management means changes in policy can be easily rolled out across the estate. New users can be added quickly regardless of their location.

Seamless User Experience

No matter where, when or on what device a user signs into their virtual desktop they will enjoy the same experience. Whether they are managing their inbox in outlook, sharing files on OneDrive or using Teams to collaborate with colleagues the experience is the same, enabling them to pick up from where they left off with ease.

Microsoft Cloud Services

Reduced Downtime

With built in Site Recovery and Back up, Microsoft Cloud Services can help keep your team running during outages.  Your employees can continue working keeping productivity levels up and customers happy.

Why Now?

Virtualising desktops is the next step in digital transformation. If you’ve already migrated applications and data to the cloud hosting desktops there too gives you even more flexibility and agility. With centralised management and advanced built in security measures Microsoft’s Cloud Services, including Azure and Windows VD, deliver an ideal IT Solution to a progressive business. With more power, better performance, reduced costs and enhanced security Microsoft’s Cloud Services and Windows VD will help a business to run more efficiently, reducing capex costs and enabling innovation.

What Next?

Since its release Windows VD has been gaining traction across the business world. It delivers a better user experience with the latest security features inbuilt and it reduces cost. Windows VD took on extra importance from March 2020 as it enables easy and secure access to critical applications for remote workers. As working from home and BYOD become the norm a business needs an IT Solution that will deliver an efficient user experience, high levels of security and cost savings.

 

Talk to a reputable IT Service Provider with the right Microsoft Cloud Services accreditations. They will conduct a review of your current IT and devise a migration plan to move your business to a virtual environment.

Talk to our experts about moving to the Cloud and Windows VD

What is SD WAN Infrastructure?

What is SD WAN Infrastructure?

SD WAN stands for Software Defined Wide Area Network. It is a virtual architecture that allows businesses to combine transport services including MPLS, LTE and broadband internet to securely connect users to applications. Delivered through the cloud SD WAN reduces capital expenditure and simplifies network administration. A centralised control function intelligently directs traffic across the WAN delivering higher performance and a better user experience. The agility inherent in an SD WAN environment makes it a more cost-effective solution reducing ongoing IT operating costs and improving connectivity to branch offices and the cloud.

How does it differ from a traditional WAN?

A typical WAN uses conventional routers that were not designed for the cloud. They typically route all traffic including cloud traffic to a hub or data centre causing a delay that leads to poor application performance. Traditional WAN solutions use MPLS to assign preference and timelines for delivery of traffic and they usually leverage internet-based backup as a secondary transport should the designated path be unavailable. A traditional WAN may hinder growth and agility needs. For example failover is dependent on the state of the link which may be up or down and this can lead to outages and dropped video or phone calls. Configuration is distributed across each individual router making changes difficult to manage. New sites can take a long time to set up due to the complexities of the network.

How does an SD WAN work?

An SD WAN is designed to securely support applications in the cloud, on premise and SaaS services whilst delivering a high level of performance. An SD WAN delivers application aware routing across the WAN that is managed and administered from a centralised point. With single pane of glass management, policies can be set and maintained centrally and then pushed out across each SD WAN node. This hands off configuration makes it much quicker and easier to administer. Once the policy is set links are intelligently monitored and traffic is routed accordingly.

Why would you need an SD WAN?

Nowadays enterprises are using cloud and SaaS applications more frequently. A traditional WAN does not support a cloud first model as all traffic, including that destined for the cloud, is diverted from branches to the HQ resulting in lagging and poor performance. Traditional WANs are no longer meeting the needs of today’s modern digital business, that coupled with easier administration and lower capital expenditure makes SD WAN a more attractive solution. IT teams can quickly and easily define rules to prioritise the most important network traffic, such as voice and critical applications. SD Wan also allows new sites to be added to the network very easily.

The Benefits of SD WAN

  • Lower Networking Capital Expenditure
  • Improved Application Performance
  • Enhanced Agility and Responsiveness
  • Advanced Control
  • Robust Security

What business is suited to SD WAN

SD WAN adoption is seeing significant growth across sectors and company size. Any business accessing cloud services would benefit but especially those with distributed locations, individuals and devices. Financial Services, Retail and Education sectors are seeing an uptake in SD WAN deployments as they increasingly need cloud services to function. Other needs such as secure networks to process sensitive financial information, fast and reliable access to databases to service customers, the ability to prioritise traffic and applications, lower costs and higher bandwidth makes SD WAN an attractive solution.

Fortinet Secure SD-WAN delivers true Security-Driven Networking

Our partner Fortinet have been named a leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SD WAN Infrastructure. FortiGate SD-WAN tackles the most difficult challenges of secure SD-WAN deployment and was the only Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) security vendor to receive a “Recommended” rating in NSS Labs’ first-ever software-defined wide area networking report.

We bring Fortinet SD WAN solutions to businesses across Ireland. Learn more about Fortinet SD WAN solution.

Contact an Infrastructure Expert

To request a call from an expert on SD WAN send us an email.
Improve Security for Home Workers with Multi Factor Authentication

Improve Security for Home Workers with Multi Factor Authentication

Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) also known as Two factor Authentication (2FA) is one of the key measures to protecting home or remote workers from cyber attack. Many businesses were ill prepared for the sudden move of significant portions of their staff to a remote working environment. Their infrastructure was not designed to support remote staff. In the rush to move people to home working cybersecurity tended to get overlooked.

What is MFA?

Multi factor Authentication is a security system that requires a user to identify their identity using multiple credentials. It requires a user to provide 2 or more verification factors to gain access to a resource like an application, VPN or an online account. Rather than just providing a username and password MFA requires the input of one or several additional pieces of information – often a numeric code sent by SMS or/and a fingerprint scan – to enable access.

M

Why is MFA Advisable?

Passwords can be fraudulently attained, MFA increases security in the event that a hacker gets hold of a username and password rendering their attempts ineffective. This significantly reduces the likelihood of a cyber criminal gaining access.

How Does MFA Work?

With MFA a user is required to enter additional information to confirm their identity. This additional piece of information (factor) is unique to them and known only by them. If a criminal attempts to gain access to an account using a stolen username and password they will be denied entry without this additional piece of information.

Types of Authentication

The most common MFA factor used is a One Time Password (OTP) which is a 4 to 8 digit code usually received by SMS or email or generated by a smartphone app. A new code is generated periodically or each time a request for authentication is submitted. Other factors include biometrics like fingerprint or voice recognition or something you possess like an access badge or fob or a piece of information such as an answer to previously submitted security questions.

MFA during COVID 19

With the increase in use of cloud technology and workers accessing accounts remotely MFA is more important now than ever. Additional security is needed to ensure that hackers are not able to access systems. MFA can help prevent bad actors gaining access by prompting for additional authentication factors that are difficult for imitators to produce. This in turn significantly reduces the frequency of unlawful access.

MFA for Microsoft 365

Many cloud operating systems such as AWS and M365 have their own MFA offerings. However it is critical that MFA is deployed correctly and this requires expertise. If your business for example has more granular sign-in security needs, conditional access policies give more control. Risk base conditional access can also be configured. To be sure that MFA works as best it can for your business it is best to consult with an IT Services company. Their experts will ensure that all the features available to you are utilised and mapped to your business’s operational needs. They will also advise if additional measures should be taken.

Get in touch with us and we can ensure that MFA is switched on and properly configured for your business. Learn more about HCS IT Security services.

Investing in the Future – Planning for Uncertainity

Investing in the Future – Planning for Uncertainity

Every year technological innovation seems to appear at speed but the Covid pandemic accelerated adoption of technology at a pace never seen before. Necessity is the mother of invention and this year more than ever businesses were forced to make rapid changes to their operating models.

Many discovered their IT wasn’t up to the job and as we face into more disruption many businesses are still not capitalising on the benefits that technology can deliver.

Now is the time to take stock. As evidenced in the pandemic change can happen suddenly. Businesses need to have the agility to act fast and not just maintain operations but improve them increasing productivity and efficiency.

What to Expect in 2021

Remote WorkingRemote working

It has been well documented that remote working will remain a staple of the business world into 2021 and beyond. Thankfully the right technology in place fully enables employees to be as productive from home as in the office. Modern communication tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging and cloud based solutions and apps like Microsoft 365 allow staff to collaborate in realtime, safely access and share files and documents and service customers effectively while situated offsite.

Digital Telecomms

Hosted Telephony and VOIP is transforming the way companies communicate. Regardless of the physical location of your employees with hosted telephone solutions you can deliver cost efficient communications from the cloud. VOIP allows businesses to quickly react to change while maintaining best-in-class communication capability servicing customers quickly and effectively.

Enhanced Productivity

Microsoft power platform

With Microsoft 365, OneDrive Cloud Storage and office apps your staff can be more productive now than ever before from anywhere. Microsoft’s Enhanced Productivity Suite (Power Automate, Power BI and Power Apps) boosts productivity further making outdated processes automated! Build time-saving workflows with seamless integration to automate mundane tasks. Inbuilt AI increases efficiencies and gives staff more time to focus on core objectives. Power BI can unlock valuable insights to business drivers and enable more informed strategic decision making. Power Apps allow you to build problem solving apps quickly and easily to automate processes across the business. It is expected in 2021 that the use of productivity tools will drive business transformation to create the digital workplace.

Stringent Cyber Security

There will be huge impacts on security in the coming year as the move to working from home continues. Identity and multi factor authentication (MFA) will take centre stage as more and more devices access networks and more processes move to online. The increased use of cloud will leave holes and vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Comprehensive security measures will be needed to protect against cyber-attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats (ATP) that are expected to continue to rise in 2021.

In Conclusion

Uncertainty is the only certainty as 2021 brings an ongoing pandemic, Brexit and a new USA Administration. The smart businesses will Evolve & Adapt to a new world order early and this will allow them competitive edge. Technology and the clever application of it is the bedrock that will enable businesses to adapt and move forward successfully. In a world that is changing customer needs are also rapidly changing and budgets are under pressure. Optimising technology to deliver efficiency, adaptability, productivity all cost effectively will secure your business throughout some of the most challenging years that we have ever seen and beyond.

Get in touch with us

Contact us today and we will help you construct and realise your vision into the new year and secure your business for the future.

 

HCS awarded SME Security Partner of the Year

HCS awarded SME Security Partner of the Year

We were delighted to receive the SME PARTNER OF THE YEAR AWARD for Security from Exertis Ireland and Fortinet Ireland. It has been a challenging year in many ways and to have the hard work of the HSC team recognised by our partners is much appreciated. We have worked closely with Exertis and Fortinet on several Security projects this year. We look forward to more in 2021 and to hopefully celebrating our joint success together in person.

Thanks again to all the team at HCS, EXERTIS and FORTINET. Below is Dan Hegarty, Director accepting the award.

Webinar: Fortinet Security Fabric Managing Risk and Reducing Complexity

Webinar: Fortinet Security Fabric Managing Risk and Reducing Complexity

Organisations are rapidly adopting digital innovation (DI) initiatives which often involve moving applications and workflows to the cloud, deploying Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices on the corporate network, and expanding the organisation’s footprint to new branch locations. More recently the move to a remote and distributed workforce has meant some organisations have had to rapidly adapt their infrastructure.

With an evolving infrastructure  comes security risks. Organisations must cope with growing attack surfaces, advanced threats, increased infrastructure complexity, and an expanding regulatory landscape.

On Wednesday Nov 18th at 12pm we will be hosting a webinar with our partner Fortinet who are the world’s leading IT provider of Enterprise Security Solutions. In this webinar we will explore how The Fortinet Security Fabric enables desired DI outcomes while effectively managing risks and minimising complexities.

Last few places available. Book a seat here https://buff.ly/3pjteeg

Fortinet Security Solutions