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How changing desktop access helps improve endpoint management

You can use VDI to give workers desktop access and make some parts of endpoint management easier, but VDI is costly and won't solve all endpoint woes.

There are so many pieces to the complex endpoint management puzzle that no approach works like a Swiss Army knife today. It also doesn’t help that easy management of user workspaces is a moving target. New products, features, processes and philosophical approaches are being introduced all the time.

How an organization decides to manage and secure endpoints depends entirely upon a panoply of unique factors, said Jason Blackett, product manager of endpoint solutions at Novell Inc.

For starters, desktop virtualization has allowed many organizations to abstract the desktop layer off the endpoint device for central management in a data center.

Sunrise Health Region, a health care organization based in the Saskatchewan province of Canada, conducted a 3,000-seat virtual desktop rollout in 2012 to improve clinician application login times and provide a centrally managed, single desktop golden image.

“We are introducing a new way for secure printing, single sign-on for applications, and smart cards for quick and easy logging on,” said Sheranga Jayasinghe, Sunrise Health Region’s director of IT, who oversees the delivery of services for 3,500 employees and approximately 120,000 patients.

The organization wanted to move away from buying new PCs, which it hasn’t had to do in six months, in favor of thin client terminals to provide desktop access. Sunrise Health Region also wanted to allow remote or mobile employees access to those same corporate resources on a tablet or smartphone.

Instead of just focusing on devices or even applications, Sunrise Health used a combination of Citrix’s XenDesktop, AppSense’s user profile management and Unidesk for application layering for its desktop management. It also used identity-based capabilities that were flexible enough to give employees desktop access from anywhere and anytime.

Improvements in infrastructure reduced application system loads, cutting workstation login times from hours per day to as little as five to 10 minutes, Jayasinghe said. And because desktop access was tied to each user’s identity through a smart card reader, only authorized people could log on, protecting patient privacy and further ensuring the security of medical records.

Virtual desktop infrastructure, however, can be expensive and time-consuming for most organizations to establish, which is among the reasons adoption rates continue to hover around 10% to 15%, according to various surveys.

Sunrise Health’s efforts will cost $5 million over a five-year roadmap, but most of the return on investment is not quantifiable in hard dollars.

“Right now, we are fighting fires and being reactive instead of proactive,” said Jayasinghe. “We anticipate that will be different once the rollout is complete.”

Endpoint management


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