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!
Google says it has created a time crystal in a quantum computer, and it's weirder than you can imagine
Digital transformation is creating significant changes in how businesses operate, as well as how partners sell into new markets. Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) plays a significant part in this. Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of why businesses deploy DaaS and why it’s important for you to sell into this market.
What Is DaaS All About?
Simply put, DaaS takes the end-user desktop environment and turns it into a cloud-hosted service. Users log into their DaaS workstation via an online portal, and using their internet connection, run the same productivity and collaboration tools as they would use on their traditional PC.
Why Are Businesses Using DaaS In Their Organization?
Businesses in all sectors are making the switch to DaaS. In fact, Gartner forecasts that the number of users for DaaS will grow by over 150% between 2020 and 2023, as more companies move their infrastructure to the cloud. Here are the top four reasons why:Secure Remote Working
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rushed businesses to enable remote working capabilities within their infrastructure, significantly increasing the chances of threats and malware being introduced within their organization. Without the necessary preparation, a remote worker using a virtual private network (VPN) or remote desktop protocol (RDP) connection to the head office was also a target for malware that could infiltrate their local PC and exploit their connection to corporate infrastructure. Remote workers logging into corporate applications via their credentials from completely unprotected networks also posed serious risks.
DaaS solves these security concerns by enabling secure remote access with a fully encrypted connection, decoupled from the device. This allows users to log in from any device, over any network connection, from anywhere in the world, without worry. In the case of a security concern, the IT administrator can disable privileges or lock out the entire account instantly without further jeopardizing the company’s infrastructure.Disaster Recovery
Since user desktops are hosted virtually in the cloud, in the event of device failure, fire, flood or other catastrophic scenarios, users continue to work, logging into any device of their choice, from anywhere, anytime.Simplified Management
DaaS cuts down the time and hassle involved in having to manage and maintain individual users’ desktops, which is a big job the more employees there are. Users access their desktops via the cloud by simply logging into a web page to access all their tools. Software updates or security patches are performed from one centralized location, updating the entire infrastructure almost instantly. Users can conveniently log in with their personal devices, which is not a security problem because it’s the connection to the service that is secured. This can save the business on hardware costs too, by allowing users to log in to the service using their personal devices or by deploying Zero Client devices (cost-effective PCs with minimal hardware and software on them) where users simply log in to their accounts and work through the cloud connection.
Onboarding new employees is pain-free; with a few clicks, their accounts are set up and users can log into their environments and start working immediately, without waiting for a PC to get provisioned and possibly needing to be shipped to a remote worker.Enabling Remote Work
Remote work is on the rise more than ever now that businesses are more comfortable hiring talent away from the office. DaaS makes it easy to collaborate, improve productivity, and allows workers to transition to and from the office, since their desktop follows them wherever they go on whatever device they have.
Connected Workspace by Star2Star, A Sangoma Company
In addition to all of the DaaS benefits discussed so far, there are other considerations as well when it comes to choosing the right solution for your business. For instance, our DaaS solution, backed by industry leading Citrix workspace technology, combines our award-winning UCaaS with the secure, device-agnostic DaaS platform. With their communications backbone built-in to virtual desktops and SaaS software, users can leverage high-quality voice, messaging, and collaboration tools right from their DaaS web portal, transforming DaaS into a unique “Connected Workspace”. Everything from our softphone apps, voice, fax and video conferencing services, contact center, Microsoft Teams integration, and more are available to DaaS users from any device and location.
This level of connectivity is unmatched in the industry. We even went a step further and integrated UCaaS within the SaaS and legacy applications customers use most frequently. For example, Salesforce users can make a phone call to their customer within Salesforce without needing to switch to another device or window, keeping them focused and productive.
Connected Workspace is designed for ease of use. Users log into a Single Sign-On (SSO) web portal and simply click on the tile of the application they want to use, whether it be SaaS tools such as Salesforce, Office 365, their virtual desktop, or migrated legacy applications. Best of all, there’s no need to remember passwords to all these tools since the SSO takes care of logging users in, along with self-serve password resets. IT admins love the simplicity in that, as well as the ability to disable access on-the-fly, if needed.
For the first time, users have everything they need, from productivity applications to voice, video, and messaging, accessible from any device and delivered via the cloud, without security, network problems, or IT assistance. Connected Workspace essentially eliminates the “office” and transforms the business into a flexible, adaptable hub for productivity no matter where employees are logging in.
Why You Should Sell DaaS
Now that you know all the benefits and why your customers want DaaS, here’s what that means for you.Are You a Managed Service Provider (MSP) selling IT Services? Great!
You can add Star2Star’s DaaS platform or Connected Workspace solution to your IT offerings, and significantly increase your value to your customers. And the best part is you have nothing to manage, no on-site servers, or support to deal with. Star2Star handles all the hardware, software, support, you name it! You just handle the commission.Are You Hosting Your Own Cloud Services?
Eliminate the time and cost of self-hosting data centers and customer support. Keep your existing infrastructure while you migrate to Connected Workspace. There are no large upfront hardware purchases or capital expenditures to deal with as your business grows.Want to Diversify Your Product Portfolio?
Differentiate your business amongst your competitors and create additional revenue opportunities within your existing customer base when you add Star2Star DaaS and Connected Workspace to your portfolio.Simple Pricing Model & Flexibility
Star2Star DaaS offers a simple and predictable pay-as-you-go subscription model, making it easy to scale up or down on-demand. The Connected Workspace is also highly configurable, tailored to the users’ needs based on the tools they use, effectively eliminating the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. This saves your customers a lot of money since they don’t need to choose between existing Office365, Virtual Desktop, Microsoft Teams, or Contact Center investments.Self-Serve Customer Management Portal
The Star2Star DaaS portal lets you completely manage your customers. Add new customers, add new users, and adjust the features for each, whenever you want and have the changes take effect almost immediately.
Poll: How Would DaaS Help Your Business?
Want to know more about Star2Star DaaS? Contact one of our DaaS solution specialists
The post 4 Reasons Why Businesses Are Moving To Connected Workspaces appeared first on Sangoma.
A business communication system connects to a phone. But how tightly integrated does the phone need to be? Does it just need to make and receive phone calls, or should it do more?
Let’s examine a few business communication system functions that enjoy tight integration with physical phones. Desktop phones now come with visual displays, and these visual displays enhance the user experience immensely. For example, when on the phone, a presence indicator to the rest of the UC system would show potential instant messengers that you are busy and on the phone. Provisioning of the phones from the admin is also tied to the system. For example, the admin can remotely set up your phone and even push updates to the phone. There are also many shortcuts the phone can utilize if it’s tightly integrated with the phone system.
So to answer the question at the end of the first paragraph, yes, it should do more. The phone needs to be tightly integrated. You want your phone to get the most out of your system and be a true productivity tool.
The post The Case for UC Systems Needing Tight Integration with Physical Phones appeared first on Sangoma.