By Lisa Gecko
Beyond the fiscal benefits of virtual desktop as a service (DaaS) of which there are many, there are security and environmental advances that are desirable as well. While these opportunities may not appear to be as plainly advantageous as the cost-effectiveness of virtual DaaS, they are no less significant. While the first part of this paper focuses primarily on short and long-term savings, this article will expand on specific security issues that are addressed with the implementation of virtual DaaS, as well as the benefits of green technology.
Virtual DaaS in a nutshell is the process of moving all the applications and sensitive corporate data located on the hard drives of every machine on the network, to a hosted environment provided by a cloud service provider (CSP). By doing so, the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) becomes far less vulnerable as there are no longer multiple points of weakness that are susceptible to all manner of security risks. Instead, end-users will communicate via keystrokes, mouse, and screen refreshes with the CSP, eliminating the need for storing any information locally.
This is good news from a security standpoint. The problem with personal computers in a business environment is that they can be hacked, lost or stolen. For businesses that are particularly wary of who might gain access to important company data, this has been an issue of paramount importance for quite some time. Considering the vast number of remote users alone that are not even protected by physical corporate walls, security risks for stolen or lost hardware has increased dramatically in the last decade. Virtual DaaS addresses this quite simply. If there is no sensitive information stored on any hard drive, or if there is no hard drive at all as is the case with most thin client hardware, there is nothing to steal.
CSPs intelligent enough to offer virtual DaaS are also equipped with security hardware and software that in many cases is far too expensive for businesses to afford. One example would be intrusion detection prevention systems (IDPS) hardware running outside the CSP firewall. For a CSP working with multiple businesses these expenses are justified and expected of the upper tier in cloud solutions, but for most small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) this kind of investment in infrastructure is not feasible.
End-point security cannot be stressed enough. The remoting protocol for virtual DaaS does not allow any potential threats that either reside on a hard drive, or that are originating from a malicious user, to actually access the corporate network. This means that for one, business travelers can access the virtual DaaS from any insecure network in the world without fear of any possible corporate contamination. This is a very valuable development in IT security, especially for larger organizations that have to depend on multiple end-users in a wide variety of remote locations.
Environmentally friendly business practices have become the topic du jour as of late, and CSPs are more than willing to tout the benefits of greener technology. Unfortunately “greener technology” usually translates to “more cost”, though with virtual DaaS the opposite is true. While not required, most businesses adopting virtual DaaS will also make the move to thin client hardware to replace cumbersome and problematic PCs as they become outdated. The energy savings alone makes for a greener business model, that is a given. The vast reduction in energy consumption both from end-user hardware, and the outsourcing of processing responsibility to the CSP is impressive indeed. Considering the constant upgrading and maintenance of PCs and laptops, the savings, both fiscal and environmental are at least twofold. Lacking the vulnerable moving parts of PCs which are usually the first to break down, thin client machinery requires far less upkeep and replacement, resulting in a more environmentally responsible business approach.
While the advantages of virtual DaaS are clear, cloud-based solutions for some CIOs can be less than so. When considering a move to the cloud, it is important to work with CSPs offering the latest developments in services and security. Every business is unique in their IT needs, and cloud solutions offer multiple services that can be tailored for specific corporate requirements. Taking the time to explore virtual DaaS as an option could lead to other solutions the cloud may provide.