Virtualization for Startups and Small (or not so small) Businesses

By Charles Hamparian
CEO of Sentience

In this age of cloud computing, smaller businesses have had increasing access to enterprise-class virtualization tools that were usually reserved for the largest organizations. By utilizing these protocols your organization can have the ability to work compliantly and remotely from anywhere in the world. Virtualizing your business means increased uptime and scalability while also drastically reducing overall running costs. A solid foundation on which to build your virtualized business should include the following:

Virtualization

Microsoft 365 and Sharepoint Online

Microsoft 365 with SharePoint online render the on-site file server obsolete. Microsoft 365 covers all Microsoft app licensing and serves as an Exchange email server. This product suite also includes Microsoft Teams, a communication tool that enables employees to interact through chat, voice or video on any device. SharePoint online is Microsoft’s cloud file management system. It allows employees to work on the full range of office products while ensuring no data is saved locally. Sharepoint online also has a built-in external document sharing system that allows you to set token-based access to documents you would like to share with outside users and the ability to revoke access once the initial need is satisfied.

Windows Virtual Desktop

The traditional method of managing employee devices requires on site hardware, which in turn comes with regular maintenance and management. Furthermore, in the event that employees have to work remotely, a VPN service is needed to enable users’ access to on site company resources. With Windows Virtual Desktop, employees are constantly working on their own cloud-based desktop hosted in Microsoft Azure. By having employees work this way businesses can gain:

  • Increased productivity as employees can work regardless of the status of their workplace.

  • Added redundancy as access to company resources becomes decentralized.

  • Reduce hardware cost both from an infrastructure perspective (no on-site hardware needed) and in employee hardware purchasing, as computing is now cloud-based.

  • Reduced operation costs – by virtualizing your infrastructure your business can reduce their real estate footprint.

Endpoint Management

The foundation on which a virtualized infrastructure should be built is security. In order to ensure that employees are working securely and endpoint management system should be deployed. In this case we choose to use ESET Endpoint Security. This product acts as an anti-virus and managed firewall installed on every company endpoint that actively monitors for malware and blocks intrusions. This product also allows your team to establish and enforce rules on company machines making sure that your employees are safe regardless of their network environment. By securing endpoint machines in this way we can subvert the traditional hardware firewall model while also insulating all points of access to company data.

Complete virtualization will result in a net positive for your business. However, some of these positives can also be extended further with a change in business mindset afforded to your company by the act of virtualization. Choosing virtualization could allow your business to:

  • Operate on an objective based work day rather than a 9 to 5 structure, incentivizing employees to complete tasks as assigned by rewarding them with time back.

  • Reduce or eliminate real estate cost as employees no longer rely upon the workplace.

  • Reduce or eliminate downtimes as a decentralized office means that inclement weather or Internet service outage will no longer affect the work day.

  • Increase security by disallowing employees’ ability to save locally and restricting their company work to a virtualized desktop environment with access control.

  • Increase employee talent pool as a decentralized office enables hiring from anywhere.

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