[Column] Helen Kruger: Proactive businesses will survive
Business disruptions are becoming more common phenomena and can impact businesses of all sizes, this in turn can impact productivity, customer satisfaction, brand reputation and cause revenue loss. African companies must create an effective, holistic business continuity plan that mitigates the potential impact an unexpected event like COVID-19 can cause.
Creating an effective business continuity plan requires a number of things to be considered, some obvious and others not too obvious. Right now more than ever, effective business continuity and remote access strategies for the safety and security of your staff and family are paramount.
Troye CEO Helen Kruger says clients need to take a proactive approach to the lockdown. ''We have been providing services to an engineering firm for many years and have been using Citrix for application delivery. Unlike many others, when the threat of lockdown loomed, they approached Troye and jointly we worked around the clock to ensure that they could perform business-as-usual from Day 1 of the lockdown.''
'''We not only managed their local requirements, but were extensively involved in their Global Citrix Farm, dealing with their office in Texas in the USA and other regions around the globe. We provided them with designs, services and methodologies and also the skills to perform the installation in accordance with best practices,'' she explains.
The solution provides workspaces to the office workers as well as the engineering team who would not be able to work on such large files and resource hungry high-graphics apps without the Citrix/Nvidia virtual GPU solution that Troye built.
The combination of the technologies allowed the engineering team to receive a performance that matched or exceed that of their local desktops. Secure Access was a also huge consideration for this project which we incorporated, as well as load balancing for purposes of High Availability within the datacentre.
These solutions are however not limited to engineering or manufacturing businesses, Troye has provided solutions for academic institutions; financial institutions and others to ensure Work from Home (WFH) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) requirements are met.
''Our Citrix deployment services can be performed remotely from anywhere, whether they have an existing Citrix footprint or not. We did this for other customers in African countries as well as Germany, France and Hong Kong. We just need VPN access and the relevant virtual machines made available to us,'' she adds.
Citrix’s Remote PC
The Citrix Remote PC Access Solution enables end users to securely access their physical windows desktops and laptops in their office. This can be done from anywhere and from any device using the full stack of HDX capabilities for the best user experience.
A traditional method that organisations use is a VPN solution to allow their employees to access the enterprise network remotely. To achieve this, the network administrator must enable VPN tunnels with dual-factor authentication. After VPN authentication, users must then create their own RDP links to access the machines which reside on the LAN.
Users access the remote desktop and applications via the VPN secure connection. In this solution, administrators need to apply Network Access Controls to ensure users are connecting from allowed systems and apply policies to enable/disable certain protocols to restrict the data access.
However, company security policy insists that the user connection will be allowed only when pre-authentication scans are valid in remote user’s PCs, and in some cases require certain OS patch levels to maintain a secure perimeter from viruses and malware.
Many companies have found that the users are unhappy with the VPN solution due to frequent disconnection and rejection of VPN connections when antivirus updates occur as well as other security failures, never mind poor performance.
Clients can simply implement the Citrix Remote PC Access solution to replace the VPN/RDP solution. They can deploy a dedicated Remote PC Access site for allowing users to access their allocated office physical PCs.
Using Remote PC Access, users will be able to seamlessly access their Office PCs over an HDX connection with the adequate SmartAccess security policies which disable the client drive, clipboard mapping and printer connections.
The Citrix HDX policies allow the enterprise administrators to control the user access to the desktop and their data by preventing the key-logging and screen capture technologies. Alongside this, the Citrix Gateway Service provides a secure remote access solution with diverse Identity and Access Management (IdAM) capabilities.
It delivers a unified experience into SaaS apps, heterogeneous Virtual Apps and Desktops and Remote PC Access. The Gateway service then establishes the connection to on-premises Connectors via SSL and it connects to the Remote PC Access Desktop via TCP port 1494/2598 to provide a seamless HDX experience.
Kruger says social distancing and isolation will bring with it a number of challenges that need to be addressed urgently. “It will unfortunately not be business-as-usual for a long, long time. We believe the benefits deployed now provide long term benefits for this and any other remote working plans for business agility.”
Troye provides specialist skills and services enabling business agility which differentiates it from IT generalists by means of optimising, securing and controlling the delivery of enterprise and cloud services.
(a) Citrix offers customers 12 month subscription licences and perpetual licenses, whether workloads are on-premise or in the cloud.
(b) Citrix Desktop Virtualisation Solutions enable employees and customers alike with secure instant access to apps, data and communication on any device, over any network and cloud.
(c) Application Delivery Controller solutions provide a scalable infrastructure for high availability, performance, and security of data centre, branch, cloud and mobile services.
(d) SD-WAN solutions manage, improve and optimise connectivity.
(e) Cloudflare Web Application Firewall provides an intelligent, integrated and scalable solution to protect business-critical web applications from malicious attacks, with no changes to one's existing infrastructure.
(f) Zscaler solutions support digital transformation strategies to deliver fast and secure access to information no matter where it lives.
(g) Microsoft and VMware Server Virtualisation Solutions provide industry-leading platforms to tackle the IT data centre challenges of today’s modern businesses.
(h) Hyper-converged Nutanix and Tintri storage solutions are built explicitly for virtualisation and the cloud.
(i) Veeam solutions provide fast, flexible and reliable recovery of applications and data. It brings backup and replication together into a single software solution for all workloads - virtual, physical and cloud - from a single management console.
''Our solutions are strategic to companies that need to address compliance, high availability and security with shrinking budgets and fewer skilled resources,'' she concludes.