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Technology Solutions for the Hybrid Workforce Webinar Now Available Streaming on Demand

Hybrid Workforce Webinar Announcement

On June 17th, EXP technical hosted a webinar entitled “Technology Solutions for the Hybrid Workforce.” The content of this webinar is now available on demand, in video and a transcript below:

Technology Solutions for the Hybrid Workforce
Webinar Transcript

Introductions

KELLY PALETTA:

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kelly Paletta. I’m director of sales and marketing here at EXP Technical and I’d like to welcome you to our webinar, which is entitled Technology Solutions for the Hybrid Workforce. I have a few administrative announcements and then very quickly we’ll move into the main course of our presentation here.

So one thing is that we have a lot of material prepared for you and we also anticipate quite a few questions. And to facilitate getting through all the prepared material and answering all your questions, we ask you to submit your questions via the Q&A feature on the at the bottom of your Zoom session here.

And so instead of the “chat” or “raise hand,” try to use the Q&A session, and we’ll batch all the questions to the end of the presentation. And we’ll address those at the end of the session here.

One question that’s likely to come up is, “Will this presentation be available after this meeting?” and yes! We will make the video available, a transcript, and for the folks that are attending this session. We’ll also create a PowerPoint [correction: PDF] of the slide deck and send that to you, maybe tomorrow…but more likely say by mid-week next week. So be patient with me but I should have that available for you in fairly short order.

And then, at the end of our question session, we’ll also have a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card! So I encourage you to stick with us to the end. There’s a lot of people attending this session, but it’s not thousands. So your odds are pretty good! It’s worth sticking with us for a little while for that!

And now…before introducing Tony I just wanted to start off with a little bit of a quote that I read recently that was interesting. I was reading a book recently called “Post Corona” by Scott Galloway. He is a professor of marketing at NYU and he writes a lot about trends in the business world and changes in the economy. He starts that book with a quote. I want to be sure I get it right. It’s a historical quote, it is: “Nothing happens for decades and then decades happen in weeks.” “Nothing happens for decades, and then decades happen in weeks.

The point of that quote–it’s kind of a non-sequitur—but the idea is that…you know…you think of change as being steady and gradual throughout history. But the reality is that the status quo is what’s steady—by definition. And disruptive events come about that force change on the economy, on culture. And you know they could be good, you know good events, like The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show or people getting internet access and personal computers in their homes. And it could be an event like a pandemic.

And we all went through that a little over a year ago when we had to learn to work remotely suddenly. We may be on the threshold of another similar disruptive event that will cause great change for the business world, and that is that we’re going back to work now. And it’s likely that we’re not going back to the same working environment that we were working in in January or February of last year.

And what Scott Galloway contends in his book is that organizations that recognize that…that anticipate change…are likely to thrive during these times. And organizations that cling to the status quo are likely to…you know…go the way of the Dinosaur. So the good news is that just by nature of attending this session, you kind of self-selected or indicated that you’re in that prior group. So congratulations to everyone for that!

And that’s probably a good point for me to introduce Tony. Tony Lesirge will be our presenter today. He is the CEO and managing principal here at EXP Technical. He has many years of experience in IT leadership roles. Before coming to EXP Technical, he was a director of IT for a mid-sized healthcare company. He worked as director of customer operations for a pioneering hosted backup and disaster recovery service. And then here at EXP he’s not just an executive, he’s also a consultant to many of our clients. And so it’s accurate to say that there are scores of small and medium-sized businesses across the Pacific Northwest that depend on Tony’s IT thought-leadership to guide them on technology strategy and IT planning.

And so with that, I’ll hand things over to Tony. Feel free to start when you’re ready, Tony.

Agenda

TONY LESIRGE:

Thank you very much, Kelly. And welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us today. We’ve got a lot of content and not a huge amount of time, so I am going to go quite quickly. The goal of today is not to dive in deeply to any single technology or get very technical. We really just want to give you an overview of what can be done with technology to enable a hybrid workplace and a hybrid workforce. Then it’s gonna be up to you to think about what will work for you and your organization and feel free obviously to reach out to us if you would like some help.

I’ll talk very briefly about EXP.  We have a good mix of current EXP clients but also folks who are new to exp. So I am going to just very briefly talk about who we are and what we do.

I’ll define the hybrid workplace because I think that’s important to set context.

And then I’ll spend most of my time talking about collaboration technologies that can enable a hybrid workplace and workforce. And I will mention a couple of IT management technologies.

There’s lots, of course, but two interesting ones that we’ve been using that enable us as IT professionals to help you and your businesses and manage your people and your devices and we couldn’t have this presentation without at least a nod a mention of cybersecurity because it is so important in this new world we’re living in with you know…  And it has been pre-pandemic but especially now with people working from home and in the office and in the cloud.

About EXP Technical

Our tagline is “Serving people through technology. “

We’re an IT services company We work with small and mid-sized businesses.

Patty Sather founded the company 18 years ago. And we remain an Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises certified organization, That’s a mouthful!

We provide mainly services—IT services to clients in the greater Seattle area, Puget Sound area. But during the pandemic we have picked up a few clients who are out of state, as people become more comfortable with a fully remote provider.

Now we’re 22 people and growing and we have well over 200 active clients in industries across the board. We have a lot of professional services—architects, law firms, CPAs—but I put here aerospace to food and beverage to manufacturing. It really is a diverse range of clients that we serve.

What we Do

And the way we go about delivering those services is through custom service plans. This is where we differ a little bit in the way we approach this.

  • There’s no contract
  • There’s no monthly fee in order to work with EXP Technical

We can build a custom plan, whether it’s a comprehensive outsourced IT department doing all the things you can see up here on the screen, or just a one-off project, or augmenting your help desk. We can create a custom solution to meet your needs.

The Hybrid Workplace

What is a hybrid workplace?

Let’s define the hybrid workplace.

Before we dive into the technology…a very simple maybe pre-pandemic definition: “an organization with both office-based and remote employees.” But this might be a little bit over simplistic.

So here’s a an expanded updated post-pandemic definition we came up with: “a flexible working environment that supports a distributed workforce, with fluid schedules, who may be office- based, Remote, or most likely a combination of both.” And we feel that better addresses what a hybrid workplace is today.

Key Attributes of a Hybrid Workplace

Some of the attributes of that workplace:

While most people will have some kind of set schedule, “Hey I’m going to be in the office these days. I’m going to be working remote these days…” It will be a lot more flexible than in the past. There’ll be a larger number of people, a number of people working a hybrid model, working remotely, much more than pre-pandemic. It’ll be the norm. And the movement between the office and and working from home or  remotely is going to be much more fluid. And as I said maybe not so set and scheduled.

Why adopt a hybrid workplace?

And finally, why would you want to set up this model for your team for your employees, for your workplace? Well we picked three reasons. I’m sure there are a lot of other ones. The pandemic has driven the remote working model right necessity safety. If you’re prepared to take on employees who will never or rarely be in your physical office, then you broaden the net that you can draw people from. The talent pool is larger. But maybe most importantly—and as Kelly said we’ll send this out—so you’ll have the link I put in the PowerPoint here to this survey that kenza did. People want this. 52 percent of about I believe 2500 people surveyed in this particular survey wanted the flexibility of working remotely and in the office.

Hybrid Workplace Technologies

So that’s the definition, now let’s dive into why you’re all here and talk about some of the key technologies that are going to enable this model of working.

Collaboration Spaces

What we think are at the heart of this are collaboration spaces. Those are the spaces formerly known as conference rooms in most cases they are going to be critical in successful hybrid workforces and workplaces. They’re going to be the hub for communications between your on-site and your remote team. These spaces are going to need to be flexible–allowing for different ratios, blends of people who are on site and who are remote.

And there’s an expectation amongst people that there will be high quality audio and video available to them. They get that on their laptops and their smartphones and their tablets, so why not in our conference rooms?

And then finally ease of use is going to be critical. And I know all of us, including us IT folks—I’ll admit it—have struggled at times with Zoom and teams etc. Those calls! “Is your mic on? Can you see me? Are you muted?” all of that!

Collaboration Spaces—Key Technologies

So making these spaces as easy to use as possible is going to be critical and the technologies that are going to help us do that are enumerated here. So at the heart of it is the software, the meeting software that runs the collaboration tools. Probably the first two are the most common we see Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but there’s plenty of others out there.

If you’re in a highly regulated government contractor business, then maybe you might look at Cisco Webex, because they have a FedRAMP certified solution. Cameras I mentioned audio and video are going to be critical so you might consider buying a more sophisticated camera–something like a PTZ: point, tilt Zoom device that that has very high quality, can Zoom in, has a remote control. We like Logitech, Polycom or the Poly Studio series. We’ve had good experience with something like that all-in-one device.

To the right of the camera section there’s an all-in-one mic speaker and camera. I think that’s a Poly Studio that particular one might be useful.

And then maybe even more important than video is audio. It’s one of the common things we hear is that audio quality is poor, or doesn’t work well and it completely shuts down communication.

So we’ve had good luck with again Polycom but also Revolabs gear which is… They got acquired by Yamaha who are renowned for high quality audio products, for mics and speakers. They can be as simple as a USB device or as sophisticated as a purpose-built phone that actually can run Teams or Zoom on the device itself. And I’ll talk more about Zoom Rooms and Teams Rooms and devices in a minute.

And then, of course displays. You’ve got to be able to share your content, your video. So displays—as simple as a TV on the wall. Could be a projector. It could be just a simple monitor. There’s lots of different ways to achieve that.

Collaboration Spaces—Room Solutions

I mentioned Zoom Rooms and Teams Rooms and there’s GoToRooms and other types of rooms kits. And what these are are pre-certified bundles of equipment that have been tested, work together, and you can deploy in your collaboration spaces—in your conference rooms and they typically include all the things we mentioned plus—in the case of like a Zoom Room—some more sophisticated software.

So with a Zoom Room, if you get the Zoom Room license, you can additionally have a controller. Usually runs on an iPad or an Android tablet that will… It’s smart, right? It’s aware that it’s been booked. You’ve booked it through your Office 365 Outlook or your your Google Workplace or your Exchange server. It knows who scheduled the meeting, when the meeting starts. So when you walk into that room, you just hit the start button and the camera comes on the screen, comes on the… The audio starts. So this is a way to make it quick and easy for people to start their meetings and get up and running quickly.

Microsoft has even a large format display—their Surface Hubs—that… their touch screens. They run teams directly on the device. They have a camera.

So these types of kits are going to make it easier for people. And if you are prepared to make an investment they… You know, obviously, they’re more expensive than just sort of building your own with off-the-shelf components then they can be well worth it.

And I mentioned we’re going to talk about real-world examples.

Collaboration Spaces—Creative Solutions

So here is a real-world sort of creative solution we came up with for one of our clients. The need that they wanted you know that what they wanted to achieve this is an architecture firm is they wanted to be able to collaborate on a physical plotted printed drawing, and they wanted to be able to mark it up and talk about it; draw on it from wherever they were.

So we put together this bundle. I’m going to point out some of the key things.

So Zoom was running this, from a software perspective. We had a workstation down here, the computer running it, capable of running a 3-D model etc.

But what makes this setup different is:

  • Firstly the cameras.
    • We have a high quality webcam point/tilt/zoom as a remote control for it here.
    • But we have a second camera this is a document camera. You’ll see these commonly in a school. And this is designed to share a physical piece of paper—a drawing, a document.

And we were able to set this up so that both these cameras could work concurrently and share the video feed of the printout as well as the people in the room.

  • And then in terms of screens We’ve got our TV over here, but then mirrored we have this Wacom tablet with a very sensitive touch screen and stylus

So the usage was: People could be physically in this room. They could draw with a pencil on the drawing. They could draw on the drawings using Zoom annotation with the Wacom stylus. Or they could be remote in their home, on Zoom and still use the annotation feature to draw on this!

And then once all of that was done they could take a snapshot, an image of the drawing with Zoom, save that. They could take multiple images as they were working on it.

And so this is just one example of solutions that can be put together to meet specific needs of organizations.

Other Collaboration Technologies

Other collaboration technologies that we’re seeing used a lot: Everyone’s working on documents and being able to share those documents and simultaneously co-author them is a very useful feature.

So if you’re using Office 365 or Google Workplace and you’re storing your documents on Teams or SharePoint or OneDrive or Google Drive, you can do this: You can co-author or simultaneously work on a document with a colleague. And you will see in real time what they’re typing where they are if it’s in a spreadsheet you’ll see the cell that they’re in. Very useful for collaboration wherever you might be.

Online whiteboards.

Zoom teams both have online whiteboard functionality but there’s more sophisticated purpose-built

solutions out there we’re seeing and implementing. Two of them are Miro and Jamboard. They allow you to again collaboratively simultaneously be on the board, put rich media, video, audio, screenshots on the board. Make notes, collaborate,

Instant messaging.

I think everyone is very familiar with this. It’s taken over as for many of us as the primary way to communicate with our teams versus email and obviously Teams and Slack are at the forefront of that. Many of the meeting applications the go-to’s the Zooms, they also have built-in chat.

And then online project management solutions is the final one I’ll mention here which we’ve seen an uptick in usage of.

10 years ago. it was a Microsoft Project and project server and a data center. Now that’s all online. Microsoft Project Online of course still works. We’ve got but we’ve got many more. Smartsheet is a very popular one Trello we’ve seen used a lot. Asana…the list goes on, but if you want to be able to work on a project collaboratively with someone from anywhere, check off tasks, move things around…these solutions are going to be what you can use.

Cloud/Hybrid File Sharing

Almost without exception, our clients want to share files with each other internally and externally and the days of the traditional file server in the office are slowly coming to an end. So people want to be able to do this without a VPN and a server. So there’s a ton of solutions out there, as you know, Dropbox, SharePoint, OneDrive…the list goes on.

If you’re an architect, engineering, or construction company and use Revit it’s really only one game in town. BIM Collaborate Pro by Autodesk will work, if you want to do work sharing for your Revit models and that will allow you to share internally, externally with contractors/partners/third parties and use Revit collaboratively, but probably most interestingly on this slide we’ve got our high two hybrid solutions we’ll call out.

Egnyte is a purpose-built cloud file sharing platform like Dropbox or Box—pretty sophisticated, very secure, and they have a hybrid or two options for hybrid: Hybrid solutions actually where you can run effectively and Egnyte server in your office and have all the benefits of a local server (speed, it could be mapped to a drive like you know an “\M:” drive or whatever you’re used to) but at the same time, that data is then synchronized out to the cloud. And someone at home, or in a coffee shop, or on the other side of the world can have the Egnyte client running on their laptop and see those same files, all the way up to and including a file that is locked by someone working in the office—if it’s not a co-author capable file—in real time. They’ll see that… who has that file open, even if they’re in their office working off the server versus the cloud site.

And similarly with Synology—which is actually a brand of NAS (a network attached storage device) a server type device. We can affect a similar solution and have done for a number of clients where again in the office they’re working off a traditional mapped drive, but that drive is then synchronized out. And in the case of Synology, it supports most of these common file sharing applications, with their cloud sync app so you could share to Dropbox or OneDrive or Google Drive or Box, using that sync technology.

So those two are really relevant in a hybrid model where you want the best of both worlds.

SaaS, IaaS & DaaS/VDI

I couldn’t do this presentation without mentioning “__ as a Service” cloud solutions. I’m not going to spend much time on this. These pre-date COVID obviously software as a service that we all use today with 365 etc.

And Infrastructure as a Service platforms like Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Rackspace etc. What I think is becoming interesting and achievable and more affordable and we’re beginning to see uptake of is the Desktop as a Service or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in the cloud.

Another real-world example: We had a client—another architecture client in this case—who mid-pandemic was moving office they wanted to downsize. They wanted to be able to work from anywhere, including in their new office. They didn’t want to invest in a whole bunch of new equipment (storage servers) if they could avoid it. At the next refresh cycle, and in this case their internet at their new space wasn’t even ready for their move-in date, so if we had moved all their servers their remote access would have been a serious problem. So we moved them wholesale to the cloud. We’re talking servers and workstations using Microsoft Azure, Windows Virtual Desktops.

One of the reasons that was so important for them in this case is because having their data right next to their workstations was important for performance, right? Opening a large drawing or 3-D model can be really slow and maybe not even work over a VPN or slow link.

So we put their desktops in the cloud as well high-powered graphics accelerated desktops. And they were able to connect to those from anywhere—a cheap laptop, even a smartphone and and work on their models, and work from anywhere. And that works in a hybrid environment too, right? You can walk into the office, plug in a laptop to a dock, work work in the office. Or maybe you have a desktop or something like a zero client right?—a very small device that is… Just enables you to connect to your remote desktop. And then you’re at home on your home PC or a laptop you’ve taken home but you’re working on the same machine wherever you are. The experience is identical because you’re simply remote controlling a Windows virtual desktop in the cloud.

Remote Access & Remote Control

Again won’t spend a lot of time on this but many of our clients do still need secure access to their own site or in office systems. So common solutions: remote desktop and remote control. At the beginning of the pandemic almost all our clients had our remote monitoring and management agent software on their machines on their workstations—Connectwise Control in this case—and we opened up at no extra cost when the pandemic hit, that remote control functionality to all of our clients. So they could immediately begin to work from home but leave their desktop in the office.

VDI. I mentioned it in the context of cloud, but VDI will also work on premise. We have a number of implementations using VMware Horizon where the desktops again are running in a server room rather than the cloud in this case but essentially, they’re accessible from anywhere and it’s the same experience from any device and of course VPNs in order to connect people to their offices that are working remotely.

Voice Solutions

Finally in this section I should mention voice (and “phone systems” is what I mean by that). So when the pandemic hit, many of our clients phone systems traditional on-premise phone systems were just not ready to extend to people’s homes. And so we’ve done a large number of migrations to hosted VOIP solutions.

And again these are not new. These obviously predate the pandemic, but the uptake and movement to these solutions has definitely increased.

And two that have become really popular are Teams—I don’t know if everyone knew but you can actually use Teams to ten-digit-dial out to any phone anywhere in the world—and Zoom as well. And the reason people especially like these two is that they already use these applications for meetings, for instant messaging, for collaboration. So it’s like a natural extension of these applications.

So we’ve been using the Teams solution for a good number of years at EXP, so my phone is pretty much any device, right? It’s my laptop. It’s my home PC. It’s my smartphone. It’s my work phone, and I can have a handset, a traditional phone handset on my desk, or a conference room Teams phone traditional style as well.

There’s plenty of other options out there of course two others we’ve used successfully: Jive which we got bought by the GoToMeeting LogMeIn folks so that’s a good one. 8X8 is a sophisticated solution, if you need call center… sophisticated call routing technology.

IT Management Technology

Going towards the end but I did want to mention a couple of interesting technologies we’ve been using to help people become…to help manage our clients’ technology and to keep them secure and enable them to continue to work effectively.

Mobile Device Management

Mobile Device Management or enterprise mobility management or endpoint management. Again pre-existed COVID and the pandemic, but has matured and has extended beyond. The initial technology was aimed at smartphones and tablets. Now it’s really extended down to laptops, surfaces, even desktops. And two big ones: on the Microsoft side you’ve got InTune. On the Mac side, you’ve got JAMF. There’s plenty of others. There’s IBM has MAS360. VMmware has Workspace One.

So there’s lots of solutions out there but what these all do is they can, from anywhere (as long as the device has an internet connection) apply policies deploy applications and secure the devices.

So a great example of this during the pandemic that we implemented for a couple of our clients who are private schools was:  Students all left school in March last year with a laptop and those laptops were previously managed by the local infrastructure—by active directory, by group policy—essentially tools that are only available when those laptops were in the school, on the network. So we helped a couple of clients deploy Intune onto those devices that their students had at their homes.

And one of the first things we did was deploy TeamViewer—a remote control solution. So that the IT staff and teachers could support the students who were having problems with with their devices. We were able to then deploy applications shortcuts to Schoology—things like that.

So just one example of of how a MDM solution can be effective in this type of environment.

And then when those devices came back to school in the last couple of months, now they can be co-managed, right? So you’ve got your local infrastructure Active Directory etc. that can manage the device on-prem, working together with Intune in order to apply a blended set of policies.

And that’s how it can work in a hybrid model.

Automated Device Provisioning

And finally, I want to mention device provisioning.

This is a pretty cool example of what we can do with Microsoft’s Windows Autopilot. And what this essentially does is enable us to automatically provision a windows machine.

So here’s a good example. We have a client. It’s a retail chain. They have locations up and down the West coast and traditionally if they open a new store, they had to send all the new devices, order all the new devices. They come to Seattle. They’d have to be prepared. Buy it. Box it back up. Shipped to the new store or to an employee at home.

With autopilot we’re able to skip a lot of that so once all the preparation has been done (we’ve prepared the back end) we’re now able to order a device directly from Dell or CDW or HP—wherever it might be—Lenovo… and ship that directly to the store or the employee. As soon as they turn that on because the vendor the manufacturer knows that it’s Autopilot or has turned on the checkbox: “This is Autopilot enabled. Here’s the the ID.” That device is going to join the what we call the tenant the Microsoft tenant.

It’s going to start applying policies. It’s going to skip the standard out-of-box experience.

And then Intune will kick in and start installing applications. And ultimately what you get is a functional device that that person can now log into without IT having to touch it.

Cybersecurity Considerations

I know I’m running over time, but I did want to briefly mention security.

And by no means is this an exhaustive list of things that we recommend but thinking in the context of this new hybrid workplace and perimeter-less environment, there’s no longer the traditional: “There’s a firewall in my office. Everything behind that firewall is protected.”

These days, your data and your people are in the cloud. They’re at home. They’re on their local machines. So it’s everywhere.

EXP’s Top 5 Cybersecurity Controls

So here’s our top five. This was from a blog we did recently. There’s many more things we recommend and this is by no means, like I said, a full list of what we recommend. But our top five security controls for a hybrid workplace:

  • Multi-factor authentication is by far and away number one. We think that of the phishing attacks, ransomwares that we’ve seen out there, the vast majority could have been prevented if MFA was enabled. And it needs to be enabled everywhere, right? So not just Google Workplace or Office 365 both of which will allow you to do this at no extra cost, but is it enabled for remote desktop? and VPN? and VDI? and any other way that you can access your data?
  • Number two: it’s the people, right? It’s the people who are clicking on the links or opening the attachment unknowingly that are causing these incidents. So training! Security awareness training is critical. We have a video on our website that takes you through some basic security awareness training that’s freely available. There’s solutions out there that are specifically designed to train your people, They do simulated phishing, where they’ll send phishing emails. See who’s clicking on them. Then we can target those people with additional training. KnowBe4 is one we’ve used successfully.
  • Email filtering is number three advanced threat protection is a more sophisticated type of email filtering that will do more than just strip out viruses. It’s looking for phishing. It’s using AI and machine learning to look at these messages and decide if they’re safe or not. Microsoft has a great solution. Barracuda… I mean there’s a ton of them out there. AppRiver, etc. But the point is you should subscribe to something more than the basic level of service to filter your email because email is where most of these attacks are originating.
  • I’m sure everyone on this call has antivirus but most probably don’t have next-gen antivirus or what’s becoming known as EDR—endpoint detect detection and response solutions. And again these are behavioral solutions, so they’re looking—using AI and machine learning—at what’s going on on the device, versus just looking for a file that they know is bad. “Is this device suddenly changing hundreds and thousands of files on my network or on the local computer? Looks like that looks like a ransomware attack! I’m gonna stop that!” That’s that’s how they function and how they differ. And finally…
  • If you get hit you’re gonna want to be able to recover and recover quickly. And when we think about backups these days again in a hybrid workplace we need to think beyond the server in the office. We need to think about the data on Office 365. We need to think about the end points that have data synchronized to them.
    If my laptop running OneDrive gets encrypted by a ransomware attack and then synchronizes that all up to the cloud, that’s going to affect other people as well. So backing up your data wherever it may be…
    Datto is a good solution we’ve used for 365 backup. They also have a great backup and disaster recovery solution if you have service.

And of course, I’ve gone a few minutes over-time and I want to leave a few minutes for question and answer, so I am going to stop talking and open it up.

Q&A

KELLY PALETTA: So Tony, I have the question that came from just your last point. So you mentioned backup and disaster recovery… Do you care to speak, just for a brief minute, on also the importance of test restores, and perhaps a ransomware simulation as well?

TONY LESIRGE: Yeah, it’s a good point. Something we’ve started to do recently, and actually this has been something that EXP has been doing for a long time. Backups are critical. We’ve seen too many times in the past, you know, the green checkbox that the backup worked is there, but when you go to actually restore… Oh no! That you know it’s been overwritten. The tape’s corrupted. These are…we’re talking a while ago…but you know the disc, the cloud copy, whatever.

So the point is that testing is critical. And we’ve started doing, for a couple of clients already actually, these simulation exercises where we will pretend a ransomware attack has happened. What are we going to do? What’s the critical data? How are we going to restore it? Do a test restore. Who are the critical people? Who do we need to communicate with? How are we going to communicate with them?

So yeah, good question! And something we definitely address, sure.

KELLY PALETTA: We have a few others. One is: “Why would somebody want to use active directory and group policy, when that can only be used on machines on site; whereas Intune can do both. So why not always use Intune?”

TONY LESIRGE: It’s so MDM—especially cloud-based is a diff… it’s designed very differently. So the main reasons you might want to do use both or what, keep using group policy. For example group policies typically get applied quicker you can do—still to this day—different things with group policy than you can with say an Intune, or a JAMF.

So what we’re seeing, and I think it will get there. I mean ultimately the answer to the question is: probably an Intune or other MDM solution will probably be able to do everything and maybe won’t be needed. But in larger environments I would suspect versus the lower end there will probably still be a place for you know being able to very quickly apply a group policy. And every machine that’s connected with a fast connection to that what will get it very quickly versus: push a button Intune Azure and you’re like, “OK, well that will probably apply sometime in the next 12 hours, when that device happens to come online or you know it’s not it’s not that instant always connected fast connection.

So that’s some of the reasons why you might use both.

KELLY PALETTA: OK and I think we have time to squeeze in a couple more, and actually there’s two that are related. So let’s… We’ll just take them in order:

“What’s the difference between remote desktop and VDI?”

“What does VDI cost, approximately, for like a 20 person architectural firm?”

TONY LESIRGE: Yeah, good questions!

So let’s start with the first one:

Remote desktop is typically where you have a workstation…a traditional PC is in an office and Windows or Mac has the functionality to remotely control that and that’s remote desktop.

VDI tends to be server-based right? So you will have a very powerful server in the office or in the cloud that can run multiple machines on a single server. And on top of that there’s things to manage profiles so that you can have multiple people logging in to a different machine. Maybe it’s not the same machine they’re logging into, as it would be with remote desktop…but always getting the same experience, right? They’re still getting their icons and their desktop and their shortcuts.

So you know it’s like a data… VDI is like a data center version of delivering that desktop. Essentially, if that hopefully that answers the question.

VDI for an on-premises implementation: most of what we’ve done has been in our architecture clients, where we’re doing not only desktops, but graphics accelerated desktops. So we’ve got shared GPUs—graphics cards that can really get pretty expensive from a capital standpoint right? I have to invest all…you know…we’re talking 50 grand for the server to run 20 people or so, maybe more these days. But more people I mean but so that can be an expensive proposition. And again which is why WVDS Amazon workspaces is attractive. Because you can do that on a utility computing model, right? You pay by the hour for that desktop.

For a 20… so we have a 25 odd person firm paying in the region of four to five thousand a month for hosting not just their desktops, their servers as well. That they have a firewall they have a VPN, up there up to the cloud. And that’s graphics-enabled desktops as well. So you’d pay…obviously there’s many different in Azure. for example, there’s many different specs of machine that you can subscribe to, right? So the higher spec the more per hour, the more the cost.

KELLY PALETTA: OK, and I think we have time for one more and also I’m assuming you can see the Q&A tool to make sure that there were two that were very similar. And I think we caught both of them in the context of the last response but we have time for one more question, and that is, “Can your security reviews include home environments?”

TONY LESIRGE: That’s a good question!

It depends, I guess is the is the answer. Normally we have… if we’re writing… we’re talking to a client about home computers for example home use will definitely recommend they have a policy for… a written policy so that if someone is using a home computer, for example, then they must have current antivirus. It should be an up-to-date operating system. It should be fully patched, etc.

Can we extend our services to a home if our clients wish to do that? Absolutely we can do that! The trick is—and again…you know this comes back to Intune, mobile device management, remote control—is being able to manage and secure that device wherever it is, right?  Including in the home.

So if we have that visibility those tools, that enables us to much more easily extend those reviews and controls and things into the home. But absolutely!

Have we been to people’s homes during the and before and after the pandemic to help them get set up and work? Yes we have done that as you know as well.

KELLY PALETTA: If you do have additional questions again we’ll present the slide deck to you and video, and a transcript will be available in fairly short order. You can reach EXP by either visiting our Web site or there are Tony’s email address and mine appear on this slide.  You can connect with us through our Web site as well on.

And I would like to thank everyone for coming and again congratulate you on having the foresight to recognize that there are some changes brewing here and that’s all I have. Tony, did you have any parting words or any any final statement?

TONY LESIRGE: No other than to thank everyone for attending and we look forward to seeing you soon.