Remote Working Doesn’t Have to Mean Compromise in Productivity or Security
By Ian Main, Technical Marketing Principal, Teradici –
With the spread of COVID-19, companies around the world have been transitioning to remote work and canceling travel. Shelter-in-place orders are already a reality in many regions, with more expected to follow suit, requiring companies to continue to alter their operations to keep their employees and communities safe.
Sadly, for many in the media and entertainment industry, this has resulted in halted productions and loss of income, particularly for those shooting on sets or on location.
This is starting to look like a long-term issue. In the UK, for example, the government has warned that businesses could be requested to send their employees home for up to three months in an attempt to contain community spread. In view of that, transitioning production to an operational model that can sustain the impact of this type of disruption may be critical to the long-term viability of a company.
Last week, Teradici became its own case study. All Teradici employees are now working from home. While it’s true that most of Teradici’s approximate 150 employees usually work from the office in Burnaby, British Columbia, we do so via virtual desktops, using Teradici Cloud Access Software and hosted on a combination of public clouds (AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure), accessed from a variety of endpoint devices including zero clients, thin clients, laptops, PCs, Macs and tablets.
Teradici employees already had the benefit of accessing their virtual cloud desktops from any location in the office, in meeting rooms, while traveling or at home — making this longer-term work-from-home requirement very manageable from an IT perspective and easy to set up by employees. It was announced one day and implemented by the next morning.
We understand, however, that media and entertainment production companies face challenges and requirements that a software company does not. But many of our M&E customers have made the shift to the cloud as well, and they are seeing the benefits of enabling their artists to work from anywhere, even before facing a crisis.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Assess What You Already Have
If you have a business continuity plan or a disaster recovery plan in place, that’s a good place to start. This scenario may not fit the definition of disaster that you originally intended, but it can give you a head start.
Does your plan include access to remote desktops or virtual workstations in a data center or the cloud? If so, and you already have a service in place ready to transition or expand, you’re well on your way.
Assess What You Really Need
One configuration doesn’t fit all. If you have artists who frequently need a GPU or use a Wacom tablet, a virtual workstation that fails to provide the resources they need will reduce their productivity. This might be fine for a day or two, but it could significantly impact productivity over the long term, at a time when schedules and production teams may already be under strain.
Similarly, if you have people operating Linux applications within a predominantly Windows-based organization (or vice versa), shifting them to a different operating system because that’s the only choice you’ve set up could restrict their access to critical applications. Moreover, it’s not necessary — many options exist that provide for mixed Linux and Windows deployments, some even with joint connection brokering and management for operational efficiency.
Finally, it’s imperative to fully understand your security requirements before implementing a solution. It’s easy to assume that compromises to security or to usability don’t really matter because they’re only short term. Facing a potential implementation of three months or more puts it in another light. Most production houses are not willing or even legally able to take the risk of lowering their Trusted Partner Network security standards for a full quarter, and most employees will lose patience with clumsy implementations that reduce usability and will look for workarounds that may compromise security as a result.
Consider Your Costs
Panic buying is irrational, and usually expensive. But there are ways to keep costs down. Using public clouds rather than investing in physical infrastructure offers several advantages in this situation — they are generally faster to set up, offer better uptime (particularly if you have no one in the office to maintain servers), and can be offered from multiple sites for better scalability. They also allow for resource sharing, including shared GPU resources in some cases, with options to pay for only what you use. A subscription solution that includes software clients with brokering and provisioning bundled in can cost up to three times less than a private data center.
Business continuity planning is often one of those important but not urgent items that gets repeatedly pushed aside in day-to-day work, only to come back to haunt you during 3 AM worry sessions and annual planning reviews. Take this opportunity to move it to the urgent list and not only will you be able to transition more smoothly to address the current situation, you’ll be better prepared next time you need it. When the situation has returned to normal, take some time to collect feedback and codify what you’ve learned into the process. And take comfort in the fact that the ability to transition quickly between office-based and remote work creates a more resilient organization in the long run.
All of this being said, we do understand that it’s not as easy as it sounds for many organizations, particularly if you don’t have the background we do or an already established setup of virtual desktops and workstations. Teradici and its partners can help create and deliver solutions to transition your employees to work from home or address changes to requirements as you expand the number of employees working from home, and we can help you improve your business continuity and disaster recovery plans for virtualized and remote work forces.
Teradici is offering three–month subscriptions for Cloud Access Software to support remote work and business continuity requirements, available through June 30. For more information, guides to help you get started, or to contact a Teradici representative for advice, visit www.teradici.com/remote-work.