At our 2020 Business Technology Expo (BTEX), CDW Canada’s Manager, Hybrid Cloud Architecture, KJ Burke, explained how navigating a digital workspace can feel similar to travelling through our solar system. From SaaS services to fully fledged VPN connections, there are many different cloud options – or planets – to choose from, depending on an organization’s stage of returning to work. If you missed out on KJ’s session, here’s a breakdown of how your organization’s users can leverage the right type of virtual workspace solution to fit their needs.
Understanding the shared ownership model
The shared ownership model refers to the difference between what the cloud provider and on-premise IT department are doing – often in parallel. As you work from a SaaS model to a VPN connection, more of the security and operations responsibility falls on the IT owners. When looking at SaaS, most of the network, connectivity and security requirements are up to the vendor to provide.
In terms of a VPN connection, where there’s significantly more activity on the network, extra security measures and additional concerns around access mean more ownership from the on-premise IT department. Understanding the shared ownership model will help inform which solution to implement and will ensure the right steps are taken by the appropriate parties along the way.
So, which solutions are the best solutions? Let’s walk through some options.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS solutions are generally managed by trusted application providers and require low operational effort to manage. These solutions have minimal impact on existing infrastructure and can be single applications or a suite of applications. Organizations can rely on SaaS solutions for any data management or storage needed as they have the capacity to serve tens of thousands of new users at one time.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
SASE solutions aggregate connections to different service providers. Whether an organization’s data is SaaS, public cloud, data centre or web-hosted, SASE solutions offer ways to access applications with a security focus. They do require additional setup and maintenance, but they simplify the ability to add new services and applications in a secure manner. Centralized control and visibility are also offered, helping users get the positive experience they need.
Web portals are managed by trusted partners and often come along with online office productivity suites and the solutions already being integrated with a SaaS provider. One challenge with web portals is finding security for each application, as many will require patching or additional security solutions. Web portals provide easy access to other services hosted externally and are fairly flexible in terms of included applications, and when paired with the right security additions, can be extremely beneficial to an organization’s infrastructure.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
VDI is a well established solution that many users are already familiar with. It offers a great deal of flexibility for digital workspaces by providing access to most legacy or proprietary systems and applications. This means VDI also tends to provide greater connectivity to internal services, however, operational effort is fairly high. VDI is often an on-premise solution, meaning organizations will need to compute storage, network infrastructure and edge-security appliances to support those additional connections. Nonetheless, data access can be controlled and data can be safely stored within the data centre.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
VPNs can allow for access to legacy and proprietary systems not compatible with other solutions, but there is a fair amount of risk that comes along with these solutions. Namely, when users connect to a VPN, they are also connecting to a number of other access points they shouldn’t necessarily have access to. This creates opportunities for potential exposure to bad actors. VPNs have a reliance on endpoint security, provide the highest amount of connectivity to corporate assets and require high operational effort and troubleshooting that may not be sustainable as the need for digital workspaces continues.
Connecting the user experience to business objectives
In order to effectively guide your users on their IT solar system journey, it’s important to understand the needs of the user. Start by assessing which cloud solutions are needed and profile the options accordingly to ensure the right one is implemented. Above all else, it’s important to deliver a positive user experience because that’s the key to achieving business objectives – the ultimate goal of any IT solution.
No matter where you are in the IT solar system, we’re here to help you focus on your business objectives and land on the correct planet. Visit cdw.ca/cloud to connect with one of CDW’s cloud solutions experts today.
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