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Authored By: Herb Thompson, PMP, CISSO,  VMware Industry Security Strategist, SLED

We’ve all spoken about and planned for a pandemic for years, but now it is real. Business are shut down. Airports are empty. Hospitals are full. Many Governors (21 states) have issued “Stay-At-Home” Executive Orders closing all non-essential businesses and eliminating all public meetings. How does government and education provide “Continuity of Operations” (CooP) in this pandemic?

All level of government organizations are trying to find ways to deliver essential services with a remote workforce. Education institutions, k-12 and universities, are forced to close their doors and now expected to deliver the same education through online and distance learning platforms. Some organizations have developed policies, processes and infrastructure to support this new remote demand, but others are trying to keep up.

At VMware, we are seeing hundreds of organizations reach out to us for assistance in building platform capabilities and implementing best practices to support their Continuity of Operations. Below is a list of new business requirements our customers have asked us to help address with Covid-19 and how we have helped.

New Remote Branch Office Network Connectivity

With Covid-19 many of our customers now are seeing a need for new service delivery centers close to the citizen for things like child welfare, job centers, community corrections and public health. These customers are setting up Remote Field Offices to provide the needed office infrastructure (copying, printing, video conferencing) without the need to go to large central office. This brings up the need to set up a site with secure internet quickly without waiting 90 days for traditional carrier-based installations. Around the country VMware is helping customers establish new secure internet-based networks which can be strictly controlled and managed by network staff. These new networks, set up in a day, are fully encrypted and managed, enabling government organization departments to meet citizen demand.

Remote Access to Mission Critical Applications

Now faced with “Stay-At-Home” orders, many customers are asking for large quantities of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or access to critical applications (BYOD) from non-government owned devices. Organizations are now faced to support 80% of their workforce remotely vs sitting in an office. VMware is helping customers provide highly secure remote access to the mission critical applications, like Child Welfare, to their employees on any device. Remote employees, either issued a government notebook or using their own device, need secure access to published applications and sometimes full access to a VDI desktop. Customers can both publish applications and implement VDI either in the data center or in a public cloud. This remote capability enables our government organizations to continue to provide critical services from anywhere. Some of our customers are able to quickly migrate into a BYOD to meet the remote worker need through VMware’s ability to provide device, network and data security through segmentation.

Access to Secure Content from Remote Devices

student at home

Universities and K-12 organizations now have closed their doors and had to quickly adapt to online course delivery, changing the paradigm from classroom-based education to a digital-collaborative education. Faculty and administrators are now required to stay home and need the capability to create, manage and deliver digital online education. Additionally, some organizations have very complex physical training lab environments, with highly specialized compute intensive software like CAD, on campus to augmented the classroom. These labs are now inaccessible and need to be accessed virtually. VMware is helping our customers establish the virtual environment with the capability and capacity to meet their training

needs. We are helping the faculty and administrators gain access to their systems through VDI enabling digital content to be delivered to students. We are helping students gain remote access, from any device, to the content and the sophisticated “virtual training lab” environment remotely enabling them to continue with their education requirements. All of these virtual environments are wrapped with sophisticated security to manage the content, access and data to meet federal requirements.

Securing Applications, Data and Devices

The demand for remote access outside of “lock down networks” is high but opens us a large security risk. How do we trust the user, the device and network outside of normal security controls? Now with access from remote devices, opposed to a traditional on-premise network, our customers are faced with having to lock these systems down. New security controls from device, thru the network to the data center and the cloud are required. VMware is helping our customers answer these security questions. VMware is providing customers the ability to implement a zero-trust security architecture to ensure appropriate security controls are maintained even though the scale of remote access has quadrupled. Customers can meet their data and application security requirements through a comprehensive security platform enabling strong device management, controlled user access, application level VPN and application network segmentation.

VMware has many new resources to help our customers with business continuity through this pandemic: