By Aju Sukumaran, Information Systems Senior Manager, and Chetna Kumar: Intern – IT, Associate Project Coordinator, both VMware
The VMware IT team employs the VMware Horizon® virtual desktop and its associated apps for a variety of internal use cases and personas. These include application developers, core product developers, finance, system admins, sales, and technical support staff—as well as contract staff from various partner organizations.
While a robust platform, the pandemic introduced even more use cases that truly put Horizon to the test. When global offices were forced to close, VMware responded by rapidly equipping existing, new and acquired colleagues (our term for employees) to thrive in a distributed secure environment.
The virtual desktop and app infrastructure we provided through Horizon ultimately proved its mettle, and there were no service/uptime disruptions in onboarding colleagues. New colleagues reported a seamless—if not outstanding—process and all were productive from Day 1.
The magic behind the curtain
Of course, there was a lot going on behind the scenes.
VMware IT had an existing deployment of Horizon in three geographically dispersed locations: the Americas, Asia and Europe. Due to global remote working requirements, we had to significantly increase our Horizon environments’ capacity. Luckily, it was an easy task as we simply burst to the cloud and extended our on-premise deployment using cloud pod architecture (CPA)—all run via the hybrid deployment and management model.
One example was a recent merger and acquisition project where IT had to quickly deploy nearly 4,500 Windows and Linux virtual desktops to onboard the new colleagues. The easiest (and fastest) option chosen was to expand to the cloud. Therefore, we procured cloud capacity and had a full environment ready in less than 20 days.
Likewise, geographic challenges were mitigated as we quickly expanded cloud capacity in multiple regions to support capacity requirements. The colleague experience was the same whether in Palo Alto, California, or Singapore.
BYOD brings remarkable flexibility and productivity
So how did we onboard new colleagues when they couldn’t obtain VMware hardware? The answer was our bring your own device (BYOD) approach via connections to a Horizon virtual desktop. Users can securely access all the internal resources and data they need to be productive from any device, including their personal ones (a very important factor during the pandemic).
Of course, allowing BYOD on the enterprise level requires a highly secure ecosystem given the diversity of non-VMware devices and the potential for malware. We turned this to our advantage:
- VMware NSX® micro-segmentation allows/blocks east-west or north-south traffic as needed
- VMware Dynamic Environment Manager™ contextual policies help to protect the virtual sessions
- Carbon Black provides defense mechanisms on the Horizon platform layer
- VMware Workspace ONE® True SSO offers a single sign-on (SSO) experience and seamless access to the virtual desktop and authorized applications from a single pane of glass—the Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub
- Workspace ONE® Access APIs create magic login links that are sent “in the moment” to prehires. This ensures the Day 1 initial access setup is a consistently delightful experience—and does not require IT Helpdesk intervention.
Combined, these technologies offer a perfect balance of security and colleague experience that offers fluid integration into the VMware world.
Quantifiable results (and not-so-quantifiable ones, too)
The below graphic highlights the return on investment VMware has realized with our Horizon hybrid approach so far. Naturally, the incurred costs with on-premise mostly involve CapEx and recurring cloud expenses. Horizon universal subscription-based licenses were used for our internal deployments, and the Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub offers substantial flexibility in managing those licenses.
But hard numbers aren’t everything. There are also strategic/soft/unquantifiable savings that are just as important in determining the return on investment.
Both types are outlined below:
Overall, our Horizon hybrid deployment has demonstrated that a large enterprise can successfully overcome even the most unexpected circumstances without impacting colleagues. This bodes well for the future, where companies will employ a mixture of on-site and remote working arrangements, yet still need to ensure optimal productivity from Day 1.
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