Connected Workspace is a virtual desktop, Software as a Service (SaaS), and communications solution, securely streaming your Windows PC, along with all your apps, data and communication tools from the cloud, and to any device. Whether you’re working remotely, at the airport, on the road, or anywhere with an internet connection, you have your office workspace with you.
Why Should SMBs Adopt Connected Workspace?
Let’s explore the ways Connected Workspace benefits SMB organizations.Benefit #1 – Keeping IT Staff Forward Thinking
Small-to-Medium businesses will have 1 to 2 IT administrators, based on their staff size, and are typically focused on fixing problems with infrastructure and employee requests. Connected Workspace can increase the return on investment (ROI) for the business by offloading these tasks, enabling IT to focus on strategic investment and simplified management. Star2Star’s Connected Workspace platform engineers handle all the costs, from managing Active Directory and file servers to optimizing app licensing, on behalf of the business. And in the case of businesses relying on a managed service provider (MSP) for IT, then the MSP can benefit in a similar way as well.Benefit #2 – Remote Employee
Businesses with remote employees want to standardize how employees are interacting with the corporate infrastructure, how they access resources, what software they use, and have complete control over all of it. Connected Workspace allows businesses to easily configure the employee’s virtual desktop experience by selecting the features and type of access they can have, via a simple online portal. They can then have access almost immediately by simply signing into their account from the device they have with them, over a simple internet connection. Hiring staff also becomes much easier as businesses can hire based on talent rather than location.Benefit #3 – Acquisitions
Connected Workspace helps businesses standardize IT infrastructure, making it easier for a company to be acquired as well as for the company who is acquiring the other. A business using Connected Workspace has a predictable cost per user, from an IT perspective, making it easy for companies to evaluate the cost of acquiring the company. Also, if both companies have very separate systems in place, it takes more time to integrate them, whereas Connected Workspace makes the integration more seamless and much quicker. This provides a single source that can be adopted across departments allowing strategic system decisions to smoothly transition in and out of the overall application systems, minimizing user impact and keeping productivity as high as possible.Benefit #4 – BYOD
Aside from the benefits of hiring remote employees, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) enables today’s workforce to use their own existing devices that they use on a daily basis, that work for them in terms of comfort and productivity, and bring them to work in a seamless manner. Connected Workspace allows users to access the corporate infrastructure, while keeping the corporate data and security intact. It also allows users to be more productive, because they can access what they need from any device, at any time, so they don’t need to be chained down to a particular workstation. Their desktop exists in the cloud and is accessible through any device, removing the IT spend and simplifying the management of the local computer in depth.Benefit #5 – Seasonable Business
Seasonal businesses will scale up and down based on customer demand. At their busiest time, they’ll have the highest staffing levels and at their least busy, the lowest. The advantages of Connected Workspace for this type of fluctuation are:
- The ability to scale users very quickly, whenever needed, all from a web-based portal
- Predictability of costs during the peaks and valleys of user count
Being able to standardize IT across every location of a business is ideal. Whether an employee is part of headquarters or a remote office, they all work in the same way, accessing the same applications and tools, under the same secured environment. And if there are any IT policy changes or software updates required, the changes are done quickly, from a central location, for all the locations at one time.
Connected Workspace offers SMBs with the ‘any device, anywhere access’ type of workflow that increases the productivity of the business; the integration of Star2Star’s voice, messaging, and video applications further improves worker collaboration. For businesses that are compliance driven, such as financial, legal, healthcare, and hospitality, Connected Workspace is definitely a benefit. And with no seat minimums, businesses can adopt the technology right away when they hit the ground running.
Want to see Connected Workspace in action? Schedule a free demo to learn more!
The post Top 6 Reasons Your Business Needs Collaborative Workspaces appeared first on Sangoma.
Microsoft's August 2021 Patch Tuesday: 44 flaws fixed, seven critical including Print Spooler vulnerability
What is Unified Communications? It may seem like a simple question, but the answer is not so simple. On the surface it just means unifying different types of communications together. Sending a voicemail to your email inbox for example is a form of Unified Communications. And 20 years ago, that was pretty much the only unifying of communications you could do. But that’s a long time ago and as the years have gone by, integrating other communication mediums, as seen in this graphic, has expanded the meaning of Unified Communications.
But why am I writing this blog in the first place? Someone can search for “Unified Communications” and get a definition. But this seemingly simple question has been coming up a bit more to me. Why? Because given the explosion of video over the past year and a half, some people these days are saying Unified Communications is just video, screen sharing (collaboration), mobility and presence/instant messaging. And they are saying that because it suits them to say that.
Take a look at the graphic again. It’s no accident Sangoma puts voice at the top. Because no matter how many video calls you do, or how many chats you do, voice is still the predominant business communication medium. Your customers call you!! And you need to be able to route the calls to the right place, and answer the calls on your deskphone, your mobile phone or your desktop. Your business cannot ignore this. And so implicit in the “phone call” is not just the phone call, but contact center functionality such as call routing, call analytics, etc. The definition of Unified Communications will always continue to expand.
You’ve heard the term DaaS or Desktop-as-a-Service before but didn’t really buy into it. But since the release of Microsoft’s Virtualized Desktop service, it seems to have grown into an actual discussion for many businesses now. You may be starting to understand the benefits businesses can achieve by virtualizing their desktop machines and moving them to the cloud, creating a central management point, with a significant reduction in IT hardware costs on workstations, and delivering high performing desktops to users from any device. Also how it eases IT management burdens and a total cost of ownership (TCO) from servers, storage, and network connectivity to desktop applications.
However, one of the major topics of concern regarding DaaS is security. Since customers’ corporate infrastructure is moved from on-premise into the cloud, there is a tendency to worry about losing control of private data. Let’s demystify these security concerns so that you can rest assured your customers are safe and protected.
In-House IT vs. DaaS Service Provider IT
While a business may have trusted and reliable in-house IT staff for their local infrastructure, it doesn’t compare to the far greater security resources of a cloud service provider. With a DaaS service provider, businesses can leverage their expertise to improve their security policies and compliance. Security is not a one time ‘set it and forget it’ process and requires constant attention with frequent software updates at all entry points to the network. All it takes is one exposed area, such as a security patch not installed on a device, to allow hackers in. Businesses tend to forget all this when things are going well, so making sure there are resources always dedicated to these types of things is a must. And, allowing the DaaS provider to take over enables in-house IT to focus on company strategy and forward thinking.
With the onset of the pandemic, remote working has risen and become of significant importance for IT departments to secure and manage. Users need to be able to access corporate and confidential information while outside the corporate network, from any remote location, which can be complex. Local routers, firewalls, or environmental factors can restrict a remote user’s PC from connecting with services at headquarters. It becomes a balance of flexibility vs. security; the easier you allow users to connect to the corporate network, the more businesses put themselves at risk of threats.
A virtual private network (VPN) connection has been a typical way to address this need, however, it is not the best answer! While connected to VPN, any threats that are exposed to the user’s PC can travel through the connection and infect the entire corporate network, spreading viruses, malware, ransomware, and so on. If a user checks their personal email, for example, and downloads a file, which is unknowingly ransomware, it will now travel to headquarters. Malware and anti-virus protection on each user’s PC can help, but is not perfect and ends up being a burden for IT to manage. Furthermore, the requirement to maintain VPN servers, software updates, and the huge cost associated with intrusion detection and protection (IDS/IPS) services becomes problematic because the cost may go overlooked and creates another hole in the security protocols of the business.
DaaS platforms take care of all this without requiring VPNs or worrying about user PC malware protection and allow users the flexibility to connect to the corporate network over any internet connection, from anywhere.
User Credential Protection
While it is true that businesses are more exposed to hackers being out in the cloud, they are at less risk of credential-based attacks when using a decent DaaS platform, than with in-house infrastructure. DaaS services will typically have one secured entry point for access to all of a business’ tools and applications, with single single on (SSO) from a web portal, whereas on-premise infrastructures have many. So hackers can attempt to steal user credentials for possibly many unsecured areas in a network. A DaaS platform should have at least two-factor authentication, but one with multi-factor authentication (MFA) is best as it makes it impossible for hackers to steal credentials.
DaaS enables users to access all their tools and apps from any device, anywhere, using any internet connection, which is one of its major benefits. The security aspect is handled between the users’ connection to their DaaS account, not the hardware they are using. This isolation also prevents users from copy and pasting, downloading, or drag and dropping from, and to, their virtual desktop to the local machine. In other words, what happens in the cloud stays in the cloud. And if a user loses their device, there is no risk since no data is stored on the device and the user’s account can be remotely disabled, immediately.
Malware, Ransomware & Viruses
We hear about these threats happening every day, and growing in scale too. In fact, check out this report of the world’s largest ransomware attack, which includes businesses in the USA. Hackers are taking advantage of infrastructure not properly protected and with out-of-date security policies and procedures. They are skilled in getting into networks via exposed servers with weak credentials and via end user activity.
All it takes is a user to open an email and download an unsuspecting malicious file for a hacker to begin developing a ransomware attack. This can also happen in a DaaS environment that isn’t properly secured. In fact, in a recent event, one particular title company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which will remain nameless for confidential reasons, was one of many in the area hit with ransomware, being locked out of all their DaaS user accounts, crippling them for days. On a positive note, Star2Star ended up saving this business by migrating them over to our Connected Workspace DaaS platform. This is why checking the built-in protocols for mitigating risk is critical when choosing a DaaS platform; you need to know the work-arounds and restoration procedures in the unfortunate event of a successful attack.
Connected Workspace by Star2Star, A Sangoma Company
Connected Workspace is a DaaS service by Star2Star, A Sangoma Company. The service is bundled with voice and video collaboration tools, enabling businesses with the complete ‘office’ experience, wherever they are, from any device.
Security protection is a key aspect of Connected Workspace, from multi-factor authentication (MFA) for our SSO web portal, to our fully dedicated platform engineers taking care of migration, monitoring, and maintaining of your customer’s service.
To help mitigate the risk of malware, such as ransomware and viruses, all files opened on each users’ virtual desktops are scanned and virus definitions are updated and automatically applied if necessary every two hours. Email threat protection is also applied to all Star2Star Managed Office 365 accounts. We have proprietary policies, procedures, and processes in place that alert us upon user access attempts to unauthorized files. Additionally, we do not allow access to the platform outside of the Citrix Workspace connection (part of the Connected Workspace infrastructure) for any third party, as well as no tunnelling, direct connection, etc. allowed to our multi-tenant environment. All of these solutions are in place to ensure that all connections route through a single fabric ensuring that the platform is monitored for any potential anomalies that represent a threat allowing us to respond in kind to mitigate said threat.
In the unfortunate event of a data breach or a ransomware attack, all files in your customer’s Connected Workspace storage, should they become compromised, are isolated in order to remove the threat of further corruption. A restoration to known safe media is performed in an isolated environment. All virtual delivery agents (VDAs) are shut down and forced to restart from Gold Image. The isolation environment is then migrated back, only after file remediation is completed in the isolation environment. We work diligently at all this and can get customers back online quickly, thanks to our dedicated platform engineers. For instance, based on standard data size of 1 terabyte, the mean time to recover is estimated at 4 hours. This is something to consider when customers choose a DaaS provider: is there support available when it’s needed the most? This is one such reason why the previously mentioned title company moved away from their previous DaaS provider to Star2Star’s Connected Workspace.Can I bundle my security services with Connected Workspace?
You sure can! As a channel partner, you can implement a third party email security solution and for our private cloud offering (single-tenant service for customers looking for a more isolated set up) you can offer your existing ransomware, malware, and/or endpoint monitoring additions.
Now that we’ve secured your understanding, connect with us to learn more about Connected Workspace and how it can help you communicate securely in the cloud!