End user computing: The status quo is officially dead

Helping the remote workforce to remain productive

By giving the workforce the technical capabilities that they need to be productive when working remotely, many organisations have already proved that it is possible for their business to remain resilient.

In the past, Financial Services Industry (FSI) businesses have been very conservative about enabling employees to work remotely. However, COVID-19 has forced organisations to completely rethink the situation as workers have had to make the sudden switch to remote working in order to halt the spread of the virus. The one key challenge of this workplace transformation for CIOs is how to ensure security and compliance while also delivering a positive employee experience so that workers can continue to be productive when working from home.

"By giving the workforce the technical capabilities that they need to be productive when working remotely, many organisations have already proved that it is possible for their business to remain resilient," said Bruno Domingues, Principal Solutions Architect, Financial Services Industry, Intel. For example, the CEO of Deutsche Bank* recently suggested that remote working could help the company cut costs in future after 60 per cent of its workforce was able to work from home with excellent results during the lockdown.1

One of the key elements in this shift in end user computing is Desktop as a Service (DaaS), an evolution of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), where virtual systems are hosted in a central data centre. DaaS uses VDI as a platform and is now based on cloud technologies such as IaaS , enabling businesses to offer a virtualised desktop to employees without the need for dedicated infrastructure usually associated with VDI. The security and data storage capacity offered by the cloud gives resilience in case of a disaster, allowing access to vital data and apps from any device. There are benefits to both, and a hybrid approach gives employees the ability to work offline, and also to have the best possible experience on any network connection, with low latency required for collaboration tools such as video conferencing.

One of the major challenges of working in a virtual environment is how storage can keep pace with periods of peak usage. This is where Intel® Optane™ technology can help as it is designed to reduce data bottlenecks and data latency for a reliable and agile performance. “For businesses looking to adopt VDI, Intel can deliver an end-to-end solution," said Domingues. "We work closely with major partners like Citrix*, VMware* and Microsoft."

There are a number of key trends relating to DaaS, including the migration to Windows 10*. With Microsoft* ending support for Windows 7* earlier this year, businesses are being compelled to upgrade to Windows 10. Taking an evergreen approach to IT, Windows 10 sees major feature updates rolled out periodically, meaning that the burden to validate the applications with each update falls on the customer. Application containers and layering allow the elements of each application to be moved together as a package, no matter what OS they are running on. This kind of technology can help financial institutions to deal with the application validation that comes with an evergreen OS like Windows 10.

"DaaS offers a number of benefits including flexible usage, fast deployment time and availability across all geographical locations, as it is hosted in the cloud," said Domingues. "This means that it is dependent on internet connectivity and sufficient bandwidth.

Many FSI businesses are using hybrid Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The major advantage of IaaS is that it enables businesses to optimise resources while also adhering to regulations and compliance while keeping sensitive data on-premises. Taking this kind of flexible approach enables FSI businesses to be more resilient.

Also important is modern device management. IT managers are working to ensure workspace integration, where employees have a consistent experience across all devices. How to guarantee a seamless remote user experience for the workforce is a major challenge for IT departments.

To support the growing number of applications and collaborative tools used by FSI businesses, VDI and DaaS may well be the answer. This approach can help businesses to be more agile and resilient and can also help with application compatibility. However, this approach might not be suitable for every business for a number of reasons – the experience for end-users is not as good as using a physical machine, the TCO may not be any lower, while effective performance and experience relies on the use of rich-client. In many cases, a hybrid approach is more cost effective in achieving business needs and technical requirements.

When it comes to end user computing, the status quo is officially dead. FSI businesses can no longer rely on the old way of doing things. This year's sudden shift to remote working has demonstrated that financial institutions can remain resilient by ensuring a good employee experience for the remote workforce. FSI businesses can take advantage of this by offering more flexible working options for employees in future. What's more, the ability to support a secure and productive remote workforce means that they are no longer limited by geography when it comes to recruiting new talent.

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1Deutsche Bank CEO: Remote work could help company cut costs: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/deutsche-bank-ceo-remote-could-120142014.html