Each enterprise will have to look at its existing setup, the number of employees, the business goals, the need for remote work, the challenges therein, and then decide, which factor needs to be provided more weightage. If the number of employees is less, perhaps VPN or RDS may be the better way to go. But, if your need is of better performance owing to the graphics kind of work, then you must look at the VDI option. VDI may be the way to go if you have a large number of employees as well.
As the world slowly moves to inevitably work from home, most organizations have begun actively exploring remote work options. As such, security has become one of the prime considerations of businesses. After all, ensuring the safety of your organizational data and processes is just as important as ensuring business continuity. Virtual digital workspaces managing seamless workflows among employees spread across the globe, of course, must aim to consistently better their user experiences.
However, hackers also thrive during such crises as they know that many people may willingly or unknowingly compromise on safety aspects to meet their business needs. Any breach of data can prove to be a costly affair, especially when taking into account the loss of reputation, which takes a long time to overcome, if at all. It is important then, to understand and evaluate the remote work options, and choose wisely. The most popular options considered are Virtual Private Network (VPN), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS).
In an online world, a VPN is one of the best ways you can ensure the security of your data and applications while working remotely. This is not just about logging in and working securely every day. It also protects you from cyber attacks like identity thefts, when you are browsing the internet through it. This is simply an added layer of security through an application that secures your connection to the Internet in general if using a personal VPN, or to a designated server if using your organizational VPN.
When you try to connect to the Internet through a VPN, it is taken through a virtual, private channel that others do not have access to. Then, this virtual channel (usually a server hosting the application) accesses the Internet on behalf of your computer so that you're masking your identity and location; especially with hackers who are on the prowl. Many VPN solution providers ensure military-grade encryption and security via this tunnel. Usually, the security encryption differs based on the need of the individuals and organizations choose what works best for them.
VPNs came into being in this every concept of enterprises wanting to protect their data over the public as well as private networks. Access to the VPN may be through authentication methods like passwords, certificates, etc. Simply put, it is a virtual point-to-point communication for the user to access all the resources (for which they have requisite permissions) of the server/network to which they are allowed to connect. One of the drawbacks in this could be the loss in speed due to the encrypted, routed connections.
This is used to provide endpoint connections to users by creating virtual desktops through a central server hosting. Each user connecting to this server will have access to all resources hosted on the central server, based on the access permissions set for them. So, each VDI will be configured for a user. And it will feel as if they are working on a local machine. The endpoint through which the user accesses the VDI can be a desktop, laptop, or even a tablet or a smartphone. This means that people can access what they want, even while on the go.
Technically, this is a form of desktop virtualization aimed at providing each user their own Windows-based system. Each user’s virtual desktop exists within a virtual machine (VM) on the central server. Each VM will be allocated dedicated resources that improve the performance as well as the security of the connection. The VMs are host-based; hence, multiple instances of the VMs can exist on the same server or a virtual server which is a cluster of multiple servers. Since everything is hosted on the server, there is no chance of the data or identity being stolen or misused. Also, VDI ensures a consistent user experience across various devices and results in a productivity boost.
Microsoft launched Windows Terminal Services with MS Windows 2008, and this later came to be known as remote desktop services. What it means is that a user will be allowed to connect to a server using a client device, and can access the resources on the server. The client accessing the server through a network is a thin client which need not have anything other than client software installed. Everything resides on the server, and the user can use their assigned credentials to access, control and work on the server as if they are working on the local machine. The user is shown the interface of the server and will have to log off the ‘virtual machine’ once the work is over. All users connected to the same server will be sharing all the resources of the server. This can usually be accessed through any device, even though working through a PC or laptop will provide the best experience. The connections are secure as the users are working on the server, and nothing is local, except the client software.
When considering these three choices of VPN, VDI, and RDS, many factors come into play. A few of these that need to be taken into account are:
Looking at the above inputs, it is obvious that there is no best solution that can be suggested for every business. Each enterprise will have to look at its existing setup, the number of employees, the business goals, the need for remote work, the challenges therein, and then decide, which factor needs to be provided more weightage. If the number of employees is less, perhaps VPN or RDS may be the better way to go. But, if your need is of better performance owing to the graphics kind of work, then we highly recommend taking a look at the VDI option. VDI may be the way to go if you have a large number of employees as well.