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Remote work with Azure Windows Virtual Desktop as part of your COVID-19 response plan

Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been considering how we could respond to a worst-case scenario where a team member is diagnosed with the virus, or company and government decisions result in a significant number of people unable to attend office. How can your organisation be prepared for these events?

Remote work with Azure Windows Virtual Desktop as part of your COVID-19 response plan

People might be unable to work from the office as a consequence of the shutdown of public transport, schools or large city areas.

Having an unplanned (and sudden) large number of remote workers using established solutions such as VPN access could easily overwhelm the capacity of the VPN concentrator or have unanticipated software licensing impacts. Further, some applications may be sensitive to slow response times due to VPN or firewall bottlenecks and not function as expected.

Connectivity aside there may be issues with the physical equipment itself. Maybe a person's computer isn't mobile, or perhaps it hasn't been configured for working outside of the office. Alternatively, the person has never worked remotely and has no idea how to install, configure and use VPN software.

If a person receives a diagnosis while out of the office (hopefully this is the likely scenario) then they may not be able to come to the premises to collect their computer, presenting logistical issues as to how a company would get the equipment to the employee safely.

From an operations point of view, having a significant number of people working from home can present problems both in terms of ticket volumes and the types of issues. In a standard workplace, workers will often ask a co-worker how to resolve something before contacting the help desk; in the work from home context, this interaction is not possible. The types of issues that a worker may request assistance on will also be different while working from home, where all of the equipment and connectivity is essentially uncontrolled.

Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a new(ish) service on Azure that could be one part of a COVID-19 response plan.

With WVD, we no longer need to be concerned with the constraints of the physical hardware or a person's location. In the example above if the worker cannot come into the office, they can request a virtual desktop which can be quickly and easily provisioned based on their profile, and within minutes they can connect through the Windows Desktop, Web, Android, macOS or iOS clients.

In addition to being fast and scalable, Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktop has the benefit of ensuring that your corporate data always remains within your control.

While in a "normal" virtual desktop deployment scenario we need to consider bandwidth to/from the workplace, for a situation such as COVID-19 this is not an issue, as connectivity is from the remote workers home to the Microsoft Azure data centre. I think we can safely assume that this should be sufficient.

Of course, some things will need to be overcome for example, how does a remote worker access voice and video through a virtual desktop? One obvious answer would be to utilise a personal device just for this although other solutions may also exist.

We have been having some discussions with customers about how we can enable Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktop for them so it's an avenue being pursued by workplaces within Australia.

We have prepared a rapid start approach to help customers quickly enable and test virtual desktop deployments allowing them to determine if it can form part of their COVID-19 response plan. Contact us to find out more about how we can help.


This blog is part of the #ReimagineWork series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Darren Christophersen, General Manager Digital Workplace, Digital, Data & AI - Empired | 13 March 2020

Tags: remote work, Contingency Plan, Continuity Plan, COVID-19, Emergency Response, Windows Virtual Desktop, #ReimagineWork

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