In this piece, Charlie Dawson, Channel Director of IMSCAD Global, will try to help you understand the benefits of a remote working solution and to look at which method will suit your practice, to ensure remote working works for your business. The key element is that it works for your employees; this will be something a large number of them have never done and may not want to do, therefore, making it a smooth transition for them will ensure the business experiences as little disruption as possible.
In an ideal world, you would already have a functioning remote working solution in place, as a working solution or as part of a business continuity or “disaster recovery” plan, to allow employees to perform as they would normally in the office, at home – or anywhere else for that matter.
There are several considerations to be made – not least cost – however, the type of remote working solution will determine the price. Depending on the role of the employee, some less expensive, less “technical” solutions will work for your business, for the architects themselves, using role-specific, software applications, a more involved, technical solution may be required to ensure these employees can work remotely with no issues.
A VPN (virtual private network) or RDP (remote desktop protocol) remote working set up can be a relatively quick and cost-effective way of setting your employees up to work from home – and, for many cases, this will work very well. There are issues when users are using more resource-hungry applications, CAD-type applications and there can be issues with connection – RDP can be heavy on bandwidth and with the whole family at home all trying to access what they need to it can prove frustrating.
Utilising virtualisation software – for example, Citrix, VMWare or Teradici PCOIP – will give users a much better remote working experience, the options here are to invest in servers and build your own on-premise environment; the big advantage of this is your data remains on domain and you retain control. However, the disadvantage is that there is a considerable upfront cost and it can take a while for the delivery of hardware – particularly at the moment (everyone is in the same boat after all).
Or, you can “spin up” instances with a public cloud provider – Azure, for example. This can prove expensive and complicated to set up, are the resources on offer going to be good enough for your applications? From experience, managing prices proves challenging, and costs can spiral.
The third option, a desktop as a service (DaaS) choice sits somewhere between the two, as with the on-premise solution, you can provision bare-metal servers to ensure optimum performance for your workloads; the difference being these servers are hosted in the cloud. You can amortise the cost to you pay, per user, per month fee. From experience – and certainly with what is going on at the moment – this is the fastest method to set up and will take care of your immediate need for remote working as well as provide a viable long-term alternative to workstations, so you can leverage all of the many benefits this sort of solution provides.
Once you have decided on the approach you want to take. Make sure all of your employees are equipped with everything they need at home and make sure you schedule regular virtual interactions, video conferencing and phone calls – especially early on as it can take time to adjust to working away from the office; some employees will have only ever worked in an office environment.