Executive Viewpoint 2015 Prediction: IronKey by Imation - Windows To Go: A VDI Alternative OR a Complementary Solution

Ken Jones (Profile)
Tuesday, February 10th 2015

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) tends to have a polarizing effect. IT admins and end-users love it or hate it. While providing a consistent workspace from multiple locations, it requires pre-configured systems from IT, so it may not address the needs of users who are mobile, work from home, or want to BYOD.   VDI can be cumbersome to deploy, expensive to maintain, and significantly less secure when used outside the corporate network. But VDI also has many benefits and can be an important component in the IT solution for many large enterprises.

Microsoft-certified Windows To Go Drives (WTG) – an enterprise feature of Windows 8.1 Enterprise License Edition – can simplify deployment of VDI for anyone working outside of the office and are the optimum solution for implementing BYOD. In addition, WTG locks down the security of the VDI end-point, which is a major concern for remote workers. For those organizations that haven't deployed VDI, WTG is a less-expensive, secure alternative.

VDI is Only as Secure as the Endpoint Device

Any system is only as secure as its weakest link, and in the case of VDI deployments that is the endpoint device. While data and applications reside in the data center, the endpoint device itself can easily become a ‘front door’ into corporate systems. For example, keyboard loggers can easily capture passwords, allowing hackers direct access to corporate resources. Unfortunately, IT has little control over endpoints in many common business scenarios, such as remote employees working from their home networks or from public facilities that offer free Wi-Fi. In addition, IT can’t always prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to corporate devices or employees from using personal devices for work-related tasks.

IT admins need solutions that are complementary to VDI in order to ensure endpoints accessing the corporate network via a VPN connection are secure and manageable.

Challenges to Successful VDI Deployment

The thought of deploying VDI raises many concerns for IT admins and the organization; these concerns include end-user frustration, infrastructure maintenance costs, and the complexity of the deployment. Mobile workers don’t always have access to their corporate work environment, bandwidth may be limited due to international travel or onboard Wi-Fi, or the worker may be in a public location where the Internet access point is not highly secure. Workers must have Internet access, and they must have the VDI client installed on their computers in order to connect to their corporate work environment.

Once VDI is deployed, ensuring security while reducing maintenance costs can be a nearly impossible task. A leading contributor to out-of-control maintenance costs is BYOD. Trying to install VDI on every home and work device (laptops and tablets) quickly becomes time and cost prohibitive.