The Role of Virtualization in the New Remote Work Era

The Role of Virtualization in the New Remote Work Era

What happens when a transient business state becomes the new normal?

Many organizations are considering this as the reality of remote work unfolds into a more permanent state due to the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now an increasingly urgent business agenda to develop iron-clad strategies for enabling the best possible remote work scenarios, and equip employees with tools that minimize disruption to workflows and optimize their ability to work to their utmost potential.

Remote work scenarios can be potential boons for employee satisfaction and productivity, with this hinges on the effectiveness of the remote work strategy and how technology is deployed to optimize remote work environments and augment remote work experiences.

Many analysts believe that we’re in the midst of an opportunity to reshape work in the long-term. But to do so, organizations have to adopt agile technologies, such as virtual apps and desktops, that seamlessly integrate into a user’s work environment.

Ronald van Loon is a Citrix partner, and he and Thomas Berger, Senior Manager of Technical Marketing and Competitive Intelligence at Citrix, recently discussed the current state of the remote work era with the role of virtualization, and the solution differentiators that matter most.

Mr. Berger stressed the importance of simplicity and performance when it comes to workspace virtualization solutions, stating that “the truth is users just want to get their work done and do not want to have a solution that gets in their way.”

Creating an optimized remote work environment now can help organizations better prepare for a future that’s predicted to place greater emphasis on the broader roles of knowledge workers, and the emerging remote work demands of younger generations.

As the pillars of an optimized remote work environment begin to further take shape in light of current times, organizations must quickly seize the opportunity to differentiate the remote work experience with virtualization solutions that ease common remote work challenges and facilitate more user-friendly technology interactions.

Current State of Remote Work and the Role of Virtualization

How well companies adapt to remote working scenarios can determine the effectiveness of their response to challenging circumstances, such as the pandemic. Workforce continuity is critical in these kinds of events. “To preserve employee experience and business continuity, technology and business leaders must create structured, flexible work styles that help build remote work muscle memory,” Forrester states.

Research indicates that the need for a formalized, long-term remote work strategy is a growing business necessity as organizations look to extend remote work in the post-pandemic era. Stanford University economist, Nicholas Bloom, predicts the “working-from-home economy” in the U.S. will persist well beyond the pandemic. And 83% of companies are thinking about implementing versatile work options, like remote work, to a larger extent than prior to the pandemic, according to HR consulting firm Mercer.

Effective remote work models thrive on agility and should accelerate business continuity through uninterrupted workflows, and improved employee engagement and retention. This requires intuitive technology that allows employees to work efficiently and immediately access work apps.

Virtualization plays an increasing role here as it enhances emerging digital workspaces in areas like desktop virtualization, which enables user access to virtual desktops from a connected device. It’s dependent on application virtualization, which enables employees to use an app from a separate device than where the application is actually installed.

With the growing trend of moving enterprise workloads to the cloud, app and desktop virtualization solutions help organizations benefit from more flexible remote work models.

Important Criteria for Virtualization Solutions

recent survey by Gartner revealed 54% of HR leaders attribute poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote work environments as the most significant obstacle to effective remote work.

Virtualization solutions should be simple and performance-driven, the latter being especially vital because users don’t want to deal with performance issues that hinder work efficiency. The solution should also be able to deal with challenging network connections, something that’s particularly critical during remote work scenarios.

Performance shouldn’t come at the risk of inadequate security; security must be prioritized because of the increase in virtual data exchanges, and because users are working remotely with potentially untrusted devices. Businesses need to emphasize data security, and thus it’s important that a virtualization solution includes a context-aware security model that limits access depending on the circumstance. This has led to an emphasis on functionalities like watermarking, for example, that make data exfiltration difficult.

Additionally, businesses shouldn’t overlook the IT admin perspective. IT admins need simplicity as well, which is driving some of the current traction in Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions, which are virtual desktop infrastructures hosted in the cloud. Ideally, this type of solution would allow IT admins to provision a fully hosted cloud desktop in minutes, regardless of their degree of cloud or DaaS expertise.

Key Considerations for Optimized Virtualization Solutions

Leslie Perlow, a Harvard Business School professor, believes the large-scale experiment of remote work brought on by the pandemic will “create the revolution to change the way we work.”

To either get on board the remote work revolution or further advance it, there are a few key factors to consider when evaluating virtualization solutions:

  • Implement an agile solution that doesn’t limit where apps are hosted, the platforms they’re hosted on, or what apps can be delivered to employees.
  • Recognize that Web, SaaS, and mobile apps are now a major component of all modern digital workspaces.
  • Strive to work towards a single solution that is easy for administrators to maintain, and is able to manage different applications from one location

For organizations who are moving workloads to the cloud, there are considerations from both a migration strategy and a cost-optimization perspective

  • Move workloads incrementally and understand the overall cost investment.
  • Start with more simple use cases, and ensure there’s a contingency plan.
  • Choose an agile solution that supports analytics and enables an organization to move at a comfortable pace.
  • Ensure the app and desktop virtualization solution helps optimize cloud expenses with functionalities like auto-scaling.

From an IT admin consideration, there’s a few criteria to be mindful of when managing and setting up a virtualization solution architecture:

  • The front-end of the app, the area where employees or users directly interact with, should be closely aligned with the app’s back-end.
  • Separating parts of the app in the cloud and others in the data center may result in network latency that negatively impacts end-users.
  • Network traffic, created by the app during runtime, may also cause a financial impact because cloud egress traffic can come with a price.

Mr Berger provided further tips for companies who want to virtualize their applications, advising organizations to “think and be employee-centric, put their business problems front and center, and then use technology to solve these problems when building a workspace.”

Additionally, he notes that it’s important to understand how employees are currently working, and involve them in the remote work strategy development process via techniques like design thinking. This gives everyone a chance to rethink what a workspace should ideally encompass.

Building a Future-Ready Remote Work Environment

As organizations increasingly rely on technology to drive transformation, build new service models, and deliver better employee experiences, it’s crucial to choose virtualization solutions that remove hurdles to productivity and facilitate intuitive interactions between technology and users.

“This is a great opportunity, and if customers do not do this, if they miss that chance, they run the risk that some of their competitors will figure it out first and become more productive, are able to provide a better customer service, or simply have a more attractive work environment,” Mr Berger asserts.

Check out Citrix for more resources on optimizing remote work environments, and take advantage of their Summit Series for the latest updates on building technology that facilitates more streamlined virtual remote work capabilities.

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