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Back to Basics: How to Write a Company Email Policy

Introduction

Every company needs an email policy.  This is to protect employees as well as the firm.

The purpose of an email policy is to set proper expectations with your employees.  What are the rules and guidelines regarding email and what happens if you ignore the rules?

The email policy should be written and reviewed with the employee at the time of employment.  A signature block is optional.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, any legal policy you implement at your company should be reviewed and signed off by your legal team.  The following are merely guidelines and sample text to help you create your own email policy.

Typical Sections included in an Email Policy

  • Introduction
  • Email Ownership and Privacy
  • Email Usage Guidelines
  • Email Misuse and Abuse
  • Email Retention and Backup
  • Personal Use of email / Opinions / Personal Views
  • Security / Trade Secrets / Personal Information
  • Questions / Who to ask
  • Signature line and Date

Introduction

The introduction should state the purpose and reason for having and enforcing an email policy.  It should state the business purpose of email and explain the need for an email policy.

SAMPLE TEXT

[COMPANY] Email Policy [version or date]

Date

[COMPANY] provides email to all authorized employees. email is a business tool to help [COMPANY] employees serve our customers, communicate with vendors, streamline internal communications and reduce unnecessary paperwork. The email system is intended primarily for business purposes. This email policy outlines the acceptable use of business email for {COMPANY].

Email Ownership and Privacy

This section explains the Company owns the email and email systems.  The company can access email for ANY reason and the employee has NO expectation of privacy.  Email is a company owned tool (like your desk and PC) and the employer can access any email at any time for any reason.

Employees must realize email is not private.  If required, email access can be cut off and all email sent and received may be restricted for any reason.  This is very important in the case of harassment accusations.

SAMPLE TEXT

All communications and information transmitted, received, or archived in [COMPANY]’s computer system belong to the company. Management has the right to access and disclose all employee email messages transmitted or received via the organization’s computer system. [COMPANY] may exercise its legal right to monitor employees’ email activity. Regarding email, employees should have no expectation of privacy. Be aware management may access and monitor email at any time, for any reason, with or without prior notice.

Email Usage Guidelines

This section outlines the basic use and guidelines for company email.  It discusses email etiquette and stresses the business use of email.  It should remind employees to abide by all corporate standards including logos, signatures, and copyrights. You should warn about the use of CC and BCC and inadvertently sharing email addresses in a group email.  You should caution against using inappropriate language and tone and what to do if you receive an email that does not conform to these guidelines.  Employees should be told sending confidential or sensitive information over email is not secure.  They should never include user names, passwords or other client or personal information in an email.

SAMPLE TEXT

Exercise sound judgment and common sense when sending email messages. Client-related messages should be carefully guarded and protected, like any other written materials. You must also abide by copyright laws, ethics rules and other applicable laws. Exercise caution when sending blind carbon copies (BCC) and carbon copies (CC) to ensure you don’t violate addressees’ privacy by inadvertently sharing email address information.

Email usage must conform to [COMPANY]’s harassment and discrimination policies. Messages containing defamatory, obscene, menacing, threatening, offensive, harassing, or otherwise objectionable and/or inappropriate statements and/or messages that disclose personal information without authorization will not be tolerated. If you receive this type of prohibited, unsolicited message, do not forward it. Notify your supervisor, the HR department, and the Director of Information Technology about the message. Handle the message as instructed by management.

Email Misuse and Abuse

Email should not be used for frivolous purposes.  Company email should not be used to share jokes or other inappropriate or suggestive content (pornography).  Also, include a warning about sending firm-wide (ALL STAFF) email.  I have seen firm-wide email regarding after-hour parties/outings and lost and found items sent using ALL STAFF distribution lists.  This is not a good use of the company’s resources and should be avoided.

SAMPLE TEXT

E-mail messages should be treated as formal business documents, written in accordance with [COMPANY]’s correspondence guidelines. E-mail creates a permanent and documented communication and must not be treated casually.

Employees are prohibited from sending jokes, rumors, gossip, or unsubstantiated opinions via email. These communications, which often contain objectionable material, are easily misconstrued when communicated electronically. Employees should not waste [COMPANY]’s computer resources or colleagues’ time.

Send email messages and copies only to those with a legitimate need to read your message. Chain messages, jokes and large graphics should be deleted, not forwarded, as they can overload the system.

Employees are prohibited from sending firm-wide email messages to All Staff without prior authorization and this practice is limited to only necessary correspondence. In addition, employees are prohibited from requesting replies to firm-wide email without prior authorization. Sending firm-wide email is generally discouraged.

Misuse and/or abuse of [COMPANY]’s electronic assets (wasting productive time online, copying or downloading copyrighted materials, visiting inappropriate sites, sending inappropriate/abusive email messages, etc.) will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Please address any questions or concerns regarding firm-wide email to the Director of IT or the Director of HR.

Email retention and backup

Email should be retained according to the company’s Document Management guidelines and legal requirements.  Your policy should explain the difference between “record” email and “non-record” email, email that should be saved versus email that can be discarded. In this section, you can also explain the means and limits of email backup.  Depending on your legal requirements and the type of email, you need clear standards outlined for saving and deleting email.

Many companies deliberately delete non-record email.  When email is backed up, depending on your backup system, you may not have the ability to retrieve individual emails for each account.  Employees need to understand the limits of the email backup and retrieval and plan accordingly.

SAMPLE TEXT

All email messages (whether in electronic form or printed) with an ongoing legal, compliance, business, or project value (considered a “business record”) must be retained in accordance with the company’s records management policies and applicable retention schedules. Project related email, particularly critical project email, such as milestone progress reviews and approvals and scope changes must be filed using the [name of email archiving or filing software’s] filing system.

 (See the most recent Records Documentation Policy for further information)

 It is the responsibility of every email user to maintain email records. It is the responsibility of each user to retain email records (defined as any email having an ongoing legal, compliance, business, operational, project or historical value) like all other records in accordance with the company’s retention policies.

 Project electronic files are regularly backed up and retrievable. Email accounts are not typically permanently backed up or retrievable except in the case of disaster recovery. For this reason, it is essential all important project-related email is transferred to the network project folders on a regular basis using the [name of email filing software] program.

 To maximize the operating efficiency of the company’s email system and to minimize the storage costs associated with retaining large volumes of unnecessary email, every employee has a limited amount of email storage in their email account. Requests for additional space will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Keep your email storage cleaned out and up to date. [describe the email storage limits if any]

 Email will be backed up daily for disaster recovery purposes only and will thereafter be retained for [X] months. The company is not able to restore individual email messages. If you are unable to access your email account for more than 14 days, please contact IT or HR to make arrangements for your email account during your absence.

 All copies of non-record email (those with no ongoing legal, compliance, business, operational, project or historical value) can be deleted and paper printouts of such messages disposed of when no longer needed.

 Non-record email messages include, but are not limited to, administrative email (such as an invitation to the company holiday party or a meeting notice); they do not need to be retained as a company record, according to the records retention schedule. Such messages only need to be kept if they are needed to conduct business. Failure to dispose of such messages wastes valuable company computer resources and employee time. However, if you would retain the message if it had been sent in paper form, then you should retain record copies of the email transmission. Email can be archived electronically using [email archive software]. Please see IT for instructions on archiving email.

 You should, unless otherwise directed:

  1. Purge drafts and non-record email messages immediately when no longer needed.
  2. Purge convenience or reference email copies immediately when no longer needed.
  3. Purge duplicate email immediately when no longer needed.

Personal use of email / Opinions / Personal Views / Solicitation

Employees will unavoidably use their company email for personal reasons.  While almost everyone has a personal email account, inevitably there will be an intermingling of personal email and work email.  Employees corresponding to each other may by default use the company email rather than a personal email.  They may not even know each other’s personal email address.

Recognizing this will happen, you should include language in your email policy to describe the acceptable personal use of company email.  If it is 100% prohibited, you should say that.

SAMPLE TEXT

[COMPANY]’s electronic mail service is reserved primarily for business use. All users should consider this in their decision to use the firm’s email services for personal purposes.

Employees may use [COMPANY]’s email service for incidental personal reasons with the following guidelines:

  1. Communication with non-business contacts is permitted but should be minimized during business hours.

Employees also are free to correspond during the lunch hour and other break times. Personal email should not interfere with the email user’s employment or other obligations and responsibilities to the firm.

  1. Personal email communication that exceeds the limits outlined above is prohibited unless justified by family emergency or otherwise specifically authorized by [COMPANY]’s Human Resources Director. Personal email should not directly or indirectly interfere with the firm’s operation of computing facilities or electronic mail services or burden the firm with noticeable additional cost.
  2. The use of [COMPANY]’s email system to solicit for any purpose, campaign for a political candidate, espouse political views, promote a religious cause, and/or advertise the sale of merchandise is strictly prohibited.
  3. Personal Email usage must also conform to [COMPANY]’s harassment and discrimination policies.

Security / Trade Secrets / Personal information / Viruses

This section discusses email security.  Users are required to use secure passwords and change their password often.  Include a warning about sending personal information or trade secrets via email.  Email (unless encrypted) is not secure. Employees should know any sent email can be intercepted or read.  Phone and snail mail are both more secure than email.  Finally, warn employees about opening email they do not recognize or are not expecting.  Most email systems have SPAM and virus protection but occasionally something will slip through security.  Employees need to think before opening email and if they suspect an email, they need to know what to do with it and who to notify.

SAMPLE TEXT

Email passwords are the property of [COMPANY]. Employees are required to provide the Director of Information Technology with current passwords upon request. Only authorized personnel are permitted to access another employee’s email without consent. Misuse of passwords, the sharing of passwords with non-employees, and/or the unauthorized access of another employee’s password or mailbox for any reason will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Security is difficult if not impossible to achieve in the electronic age. Confidential or personal information should never be sent via email understanding it can be intercepted. This includes the transmission of client information, Social Security numbers, employee health records, proprietary data and trade secrets, or other confidential material. When sending sensitive material (or any message, for that matter), employees should use extreme caution to ensure the intended recipient’s email address is correct.

Be careful when opening email with attachments.  While [Company] has email SPAM and virus filtering, there is a possibility a malicious link or new exploit can bypass our system.  If you receive strange messages or unexpected email from someone, use caution and common sense before opening.  When in doubt, contact the sender to verify the email is legitimate and safe.  If you accidentally open an unknown file or click on an unsafe link, notify IT as soon as possible and they can determine if it was safe.

Questions / Who to ask / Signature line and date

Finally, let staff know who to contact if they have questions or concerns.  When reviewing this policy with a new employee or introducing an email policy for the first time, you can include a signature line to state the employee has received and read the email policy.

SAMPLE TEXT

If you have any questions about the above policies, please address them to the Director of Information Technology or Human Resources Director.

I [Employee Name] have received and read [Company]’ Email Policy [version or dated]

_________________________ Signature

_____________ Date

 

I hope this article has convinced you every company needs an email policy.  If you need help writing your company’s email policy, click here and we can get you started.

 

The Truth About Remote Working

Remote Working Success Factors:

According to a 2016 survey of American remote workers, about 91 percent of people who work from home feel they’re more productive than when they’re in an office.  Forbes Magazine and Harvard Business Review have both written extensively about the productivity gains from remote working.

I have worked remote for the past 6 years.  I think working remotely is great for productivity and work-life balance but it might not be for everyone.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of remote working.

Remote work can be good or bad, it depends on you, your job and employer

What kind of a job do you have? Studies show Knowledge and Creative workers will benefit most from remote working.  Obviously, if you have a job that requires face to face meetings or special equipment then working remotely is not going to work for you.  There is no way a Starbucks Barista is going to work remotely. The exceptions might be phone or chat-based customer service jobs, they are tailor-made for remote workers.

Remote working flexibility is great.  It allows you to schedule life around work.  You can take a 15-minute break to pick up the kids from school or meet the plumber.  These little conveniences improve work/life balance.

Commute time is eliminated.  People don’t realize how much time (and money) is spent commuting.  I live in a large urban city and my wife spends 3 hours and $15 a day using public transportation.  That is a big expense and time commitment.  My commute is one minute to my home office.

If you spend a lot of time working in teams, remote working can still be very productive.  There are many factors that determine if remote work works for you. Let’s look at those that can make you a successful remote worker.

To work remotely, you need appropriate technology

Remote working requires the ability to work from anywhere, ideally, you need complete mobility.

Depending on your exact situation, you need a laptop (or desktop PC), mobile phone and some kind of screen sharing or online meeting tool.  You might also use a chat client or an online project management tool.  There are many solutions out there, you need to investigate which tools work best in your situation and with your employer.

I use Google Voice.  Google Voice allows one number to ring in many places at the same time,  my desk phone, my mobile phone and my Skype number all ring together. I can be anywhere and you can reach me by phone.  Many telephony systems allow you to forward your calls to another number or to your mobile phone.  There are phone features like Find me / Follow me that ring at multiple locations, one after another until you pick up or it goes to voicemail.

If you work in teams, you need technology to support teamwork.  Technologies like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or VDIs (Virtual Desktop Interface) give you complete access to your work computer and all your office files and programs from anywhere you have Internet connectivity.

If your company does not use VDI or allow remote access, then you are going to have a harder time collaborating with colleagues and access the programs and data you need.  Most companies, even if they do not use VDI, have some way to securely access company infrastructure.  This is typically done using Virtual Private Network (VPN) and some kind of secure authentication.

I am fortunate my company, Advance2000, provides technologies to enable our entire staff to be 100% mobile.  We also help other companies become 100% mobile and work remotely.  We can provide an “office in the cloud” and supply servers, desktops and phones all completely hosted in our private cloud and accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection.  Some of our clients don’t even have physical offices any longer.

Dedicated Workspace

You need a comfortable place to work.  Companies provide a comfortable productive place for their employees to work.  Working remote, you need that too.

When setting up a home office, keep these things in mind.

  • Door – I find having a door on my office, especially when my kids were younger, was a necessity. If the door is closed, no kids or cats are allowed in.
  • Full-size desk – Get a full-size desk for your computer and two monitors. Dual monitors have been shown to boost productivity.  Spend some money on quality monitors, keyboards and mice.  You spend 8 hours a day on these tools, make sure they are high quality. You want to minimize the chance of eye strain and RSI and you need reliable technology that will last.
  • Network/Internet – a wired Internet connection is faster and more reliable than using WiFi.  If needed, have an electrician run wiring from your Internet Router to your home office.  If you have multiple devices using the Internet, you can invest in a small switch to share your Internet connection.
  • Hotspot/phone fallback – I recommend you have a cellular backup in case your home Internet service goes down. You can use a mobile phone or tablet with cellular data to create a mobile hotspot to use in case your primary Internet goes out.  Or you can just pack up and head to the nearest coffee shop to work.
  • Good desk chair – Get a good office chair.  Do not buy a cheap box store chair.  You are going to spend 8-10 hours a day in your chair.  There is a reason office chairs are so expensive, they are designed for all-day comfort.  Don’t scrimp here, if you can’t afford to spend a lot, check out office equipment resellers.  They have lightly used office chairs by all the major office furniture providers.  Go and sit in the chair, make sure it is right before you spend hundreds of dollars.
  • Private space – I recommend a private office space not shared with the rest of the family.  You need to separate from the family distractions.
  • Windows / fresh air – it is a bonus if you have natural light and operating windows in your office.
  • Monitor/keyboard/headset – These are the tools you use all day. Along with a good chair, get a good keyboard and mouse and monitors.  Ergonomic tools are a plus.  If you spend a lot of time on the phone, consider using a lightweight high-quality headset.
  • Office in a wardrobe – Tight on space? You can house an entire office in a piece of furniture.  There are also desks that hide the office equipment from sight.

Photo: Bowery Hill Computer Armoire

  • Build an office? – Depending on your local building codes, you might be able to build an office in your backyard. This gives you the mental and physical separation from the home.  You leave your house but still have all the amenities of home just a few steps away.

Photo courtesy Will Leger

Office parks/coworking spaces – Finally, if you can’t stand working alone, there are many coworking spaces available everywhere.  For a very small monthly investment, you have access to a shared desk and workspace.  Coworking spaces offer Wifi, refreshments, shared desks and team/conference rooms.  You just bring your laptop and work.  Some people find the social activity stimulating to work.

Photo: WeWork – Chicago

Staying Focused

Successful remote working ultimately depends on you.  It requires discipline and organization.  If you are the type of person whose attention wanders you might not be a good candidate.  Here are some things you can do to improve concentration and reduce distractions.

  • Music – some people use music to provide “white noise” to help them focus on tasks at hand.
  • Minimize interruptions – Be careful of distractions / Internet / social media. Stay away from distractions online.  Consider using browser extensions to block all websites for a period of time.  (RescueTime)
  • Pomodoro technique – Work 25 minutes without stopping and then take a 5-minute break. Specialized Pomodoro apps and websites can help you use this technique to stay focused.
  • Set time for lunch and breaks – every 20 minutes look away from the computer screen for 20 seconds. Plan a regular time for lunch and get away from the computer.
  • Face time – Plan regular trips to the company’s office. You need face time occasionally.  This makes working remote more successful.  Once you meet someone in person, it is much easier to work with them remotely.
  • Demographics – Surprisingly, younger people prefer working in an office for the “social” aspects.

Tips for remote workers

  • Keep a professional attitude – When remote working, it is tempting to not get dressed or shave or get out of your pajamas. Resist these behaviors, they affect your thinking.  Maintaining professional behaviors will help you be more productive.  Don’t take conference calls in bed.
  • Turn off social media – Use organizational technology to keep on track, create lists. If you know what to do next, it will help you resist the temptation to waste time.
  • Schedule all your time – Schedule your todo tasks as well as your meetings and appointments. When you have free time, refer to your to-do list and move to the next item on your list. Stay busy and your mind will not wander.
  • Use fill-in tasks – I have a list of projects to do right now, to do in the future and to do someday. Having those lists prepared keeps you from wasting time by not knowing what to do.
  • Establish regular hours – Keep regular hours. I start work at 8 AM and take lunch 11-11:30 and end my day at 5.  Beware of the trap of working all the time.  It is tempting to answer email and phone calls 24/7/365.  Unless you are required to do this, working remotely is not an excuse to work 12 hour days.  Working remote can improve work/life balance.  Working all the time increases stress and is unproductive.
  • Take regular breaks – Take time away from the computer screen, rest your eyes every hour. Take lunch every day, I take a shorter lunch (30 minutes) since I don’t have to get food or go anywhere to eat.

Pulling it all together

Positives

  • No commute
  • Flexibility
  • Fewer distractions / interruptions
  • Lower employee attrition (higher retention)
  • Better home/work balance
  • Self Management (responsibility)
  • Save money – no commuting costs = instant raise, eat at home
  • No office space required/create a virtual company for startups

Negatives

  • No face time / alone / isolation
  • Lose “social” aspect of the office
  • Time management harder / requires more discipline
  • No physical presence in the office – out of sight …
  • Need to over communicate to be heard – you are not seen
  • Must be a good time manager

Convincing the Boss

So how do you convince your company to allow you to work remote?  In the studies on remote work, middle management seems to be the most resistant to allowing staff to work remote.  This might be because they can no longer see their staff working in front of them.  There is a certain amount of trust required on the part of managers to let go.

One suggestion might be to rotate the days you work remote.  Maybe you go to the office on Monday and Friday and work remote Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday?  Or maybe part of your department works remotely while the rest are in the office and then you switch.  Companies using remote workers need less office space.  Fewer offices/cubicles and less office furniture reduce costs for a company.  It is a win-win for employees and their companies.

Try It

Remote working is not for everyone or for every company.  Set up a remote working trial and see how it goes.  I think you will be surprised how it can improve productivity, create happier employees and save money.

For more information on setting up a virtual office and working remote, contact us today.  Click here and we can get you started.

Virtual Desktops (VDI) FAQs

If you’re seeking to solve a business problem and think that VDI may be the answer (but aren’t sure), you’ve come to the right place. You’re not alone on your quest to enhance your business’ IT strategy; but – as you know – there is certainly no shortage of questions that arise along the way. To help simplify a sometimes complex technology such as VDI, I’ve developed a comprehensive guide to the most frequently asked questions I’ve come across in my years as an IT professional.

What is a VDI?

A VDI is a virtual desktop computer. A VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) runs a desktop operating system, like Windows, on a virtual machine sitting in a datacenter. A VDI is created by taking a single server-class computer and slicing it into virtual standalone independent desktop computers. The software, or hypervisor (also known as a virtual machine monitor or VMM), shares the physical resources, the memory, drive space and processors of a single large server and allocates them to multiple virtual desktops or VDIs. The hypervisor balances the demand for resources on that single shared server and ensures that each VDI has adequate resources and performance. A VDI is accessed using client software or an appliance.

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Why should I use virtual desktops?

VDI or virtual desktops should be part of an overall IT strategy. As an IT leader for your company, you must identify the business problem you’re trying to solve with VDIs.

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Advance2000 IT Strategy Assessment

 

Common business needs satisfied with VDIs:

  • Collaboration
    • You have a large project and need several firms to work together in real time on a single network.
      • Solution: Project Cloud
  • Infrastructure Virtualization
    • You want to eliminate or reduce the physical hardware you use to run your business.
      • Solution: All-In Virtualization
  • Disaster Recovery
    • You need disaster recovery on demand at a failover site.
      • Solution: DR in the Cloud
  • Security
    • You want increased security. Increased mobility has led to increased vulnerability. Sensitive company data is stored on laptops and tablets and can be lost or stolen very easily. With VDIs, the data is stored in a secure environment: the datacenter. Antivirus and Malware software updates are easier to do and easier to track with VDIs. Endpoint and firewall protection is easier to implement. And finally, backups are centralized, georedundant, and easier to manage.
      • VDI Benefit: Improved Security
  • BYOD
    • You want to implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). With BYOD, staff supplies their own computers or other device used to access a VDI. BYOD and desktop virtualization allows desktop access and relieves the IT staff from having to support the endpoint devices themselves. Some firms will even subsidize the costs for users who choose to bring their own devices. This can reduce the expense of buying user laptops and desktops.
      • VDI Benefit: Reduce Hardware Cost
  • Reduce IT Management and Maintenance Costs
    • Reducing IT cost is a goal for most companies. Supporting users using VDI and reducing or eliminating desktop and laptop management costs can save significant money. Many tools and applications are used to manage desktops and laptops, like those for software deployment, inventory, OS patch management and antivirus protection. Virtualization consolidates your IT infrastructure and makes it easier to centrally manage and support users’ desktops.
      • VDI Benefit: Reduce IT costs
  • Mobility
    • Many firms need anytime, anywhere access to business computers and data. VDI provides complete mobility; the only thing needed is a data connection.
      • VDI Benefit: Work From Anywhere
  • Software Portability
    • Using VDI, you can make special software used to run your business available anywhere you have an internet connection. You can run compute intensive applications from low-powered laptops or even a tablet since all the “heavy lifting” is done on the VDI in the datacenter. The only things that travels across the data connection are screen updates, mouse clicks, and keystrokes.
      • VDI Benefit: Application Mobility
  • Finally, Lower Costs
    • Running five offices of IT equipment is more expensive than operating a single office of IT. By consolidating your IT infrastructure into a single datacenter location, you reduce your capital expenses (buy less) or convert them into operating expenses (DaaS) which creates a more favorable tax situation.
      • VDI Benefit: Reduce IT Costs

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How do I connect to a VDI? Aren’t the graphics on a VDI poor?

You connect to a VDI using a remote display protocol. Current display protocols have eliminated poor VDI graphics performance. There are many different protocols available to use. Some of the most common remote display protocols are:

  • PC Over IP (Teradici)
  • RemoteFX (Microsoft)
  • Blast Extreme (VMware)
  • High Definition Experience (Citrix HDX)
  • Remote Graphics Software (HP – RGS)

These protocols have special graphics capabilities to optimize your remote desktop experience. With sufficient bandwidth, the screen painting and mouse lag that once plagued VDIs has been eliminated.

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If I personalize the VDI, will my changes be saved?

All VDI users can connect to their own desktops and applications, like they would sitting at a local workstation. There are two types of VDIs.

  • Persistent VDIs: Users can personalize their desktops and the changes are saved and stored with the VDI. All personalization is saved.
  • Non-Persistent VDIs: The user is accessing a random virtual desktop from a pool of shared resources. All personalization is lost.

For certain uses – training rooms for example – you might want a clean, fresh desktop each time the user connects. For that, a non-persistent VDI makes sense since it is wiped clean each time the user connects.

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What do I use to connect to a VDI?

You can connect to a VDI in a variety of ways.

Thin Client: A thin client is a hardware device running a lightweight operating system. Thin clients are popular because they need less maintenance, are easier to manage, are less prone to virus and malware attacks, and have a longer life. Thin clients use less power and are less expensive than a traditional PC.

Zero Client: The zero client is basically a smaller, cheaper thin client. It needs very little configuration, uses less power and has no operating system.

Thick clients or old PCs: Old PCs can be repurposed to connect to VDIs. Using your old PCs to connect to VDI does not reduce the premise based hardware you need to maintain and troubleshoot. Old PCs also still need a local operating system and anti-virus and other local software, with on-going associated costs. Using traditional PCs to connect to virtual desktops, you lose some of the benefits of VDI, such as reduced power consumption, central management, and increased security. Reusing old PCs is a green choice, but be careful; you may end up using more power and spending more time maintaining them as they age. There are special operating systems you can load on an old PC that will effectively convert it into a thin client. This might be a good compromise.

Laptops and docking stations: Chromebooks or other laptops with docking stations can be used to connect to your VDIs. The same arguments apply to these devices as to thick clients above. Be careful of additional power usage and maintenance. Also support for multi-monitors may be limited.

Tablets and Phones: Tablets and phones can be used to access your VDI. Some tablets are equivalent to full-blown desktop PCs, but others may have limited output capability and may even lack simple mouse support, so beware. You can work from a phone, but this is a last resort; you would not want to work on it for an extended period of time.

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Why would I do this now?

  1. VDIs are easier to manage and maintain than full desktop and laptop PCs.
  2. The current generation of VDIs have better graphics and equal performance to a desktop PC.
  3. Bandwidth, required to connect to a VDI, has dropped in price. Buying a lot of bandwidth is not going to bankrupt any company. Even very small firms can afford the bandwidth needed to successfully deploy VDIs.
  4. VDI is a mature technology. In the past, using VDIs meant giving up performance and graphics capabilities. Those issues have been largely eliminated. A well-designed VDI can perform (or outperform) as well as a similarly specified physical desktop PC.

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Who are the leading VDI vendors?

Hyper-V is Microsoft’s virtualization platform running on a Windows Server. Multiple virtual desktop sessions can be created using Hyper-V. It supports the Windows OS as well as Linux and Windows Server OS.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is part of Microsoft Windows Server and allow users to remotely access graphical desktops and Windows applications.

Citrix XenDesktop (XenApp) is an enterprise-class VDI platform that delivers virtual desktops and virtualized applications. It uses the Citrix HDX protocol or NVIDIA GRID vGPU technologies to support virtualized graphics.

VMware Horizon offers virtual desktops, apps and other online services. The platform supports virtual machines running Windows, and connects with devices running Windows, Mac OS or Linux. It supports a number of different graphics protocols such as PCOIP, Blast, and RDS.

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How do I choose a VDI Vendor?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a VDI product. You take into account features, setup and maintenance, as well as licensing and ongoing support. You also determine which technologies your organization needs.

Consider the following questions when choosing a VDI vendor:

  • Which operating system do you need? E.g., MacOS is not available as a VDI.
  • Do you plan to provide persistent or non-persistent desktops?
  • Are you going to deliver entire desktops with applications or just deliver applications using a virtualization tool?
  • Do your users have high-performance graphics needs?
  • If a data circuit goes down, how will downtime or slow performance impact your company?
  • What types of users do you have? What kinds of VDIs do they need? Do they have special computing or graphics needs?
  • Do you have an implementation plan?
  • Will your staff need special training to use VDIs?
  • Who will support and maintain your VDIs – in-house staff or will you outsource?
  • Will specialized training or certifications be needed for your IT staff to support this environment?

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Should I outsource VDI (Desktops as a Service) or do it myself?

You can outsource the entire VDI experience to a company like Advance2000. Advance2000 provides Desktops as a Service (DaaS).  We host and maintain the back-end infrastructure to provide VDIs. Some DaaS providers, like Advance2000, can provide an entire virtual hosted IT infrastructure in addition to virtual desktops (VDI). Your servers as well as your desktops can be hosted and provided as a monthly service.

Pros: Users can access hosted desktops from any device, location, or network. Provider manages all the infrastructure. DaaS lowers the upfront and on-going costs.

Cons: Licensing can be complicated. Some software will not run on a VDI. In addition to software compatibility, you need to choose a stable, experienced desktop provider. You are relying on another company to keep your business running. Using DaaS requires higher external bandwidth requirements than an on-premise deployment since you are accessing your VDI over the internet or a dedicated data circuit.

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How do I deploy VDI?

Once you’ve assessed your organization’s needs, planned a strategy to meet your requirements, and you are ready to deploy VDI, how do you start?

At Advance2000, we recommend a Crawl, Walk, Run approach. Implementation begins with a demo. A demo allows you to try the solution for yourself and make sure that it really works as promised. The next step would be to do a single project on a small number of VDIs, a project cloud. This is the true test to measure and experience the real cost and productivity savings. Once you are satisfied that this works, you can create additional project clouds or proceed to an ALL-IN solution to replace all your onsite infrastructure with the Advance2000 cloud (ALL-IN).

When considering an ALL-IN approach, there are many ways to move your whole company to the cloud. You can do it by department, by project or by office. Depending on your needs, each approach can be easily work to get your business 100% in the cloud. Advance2000 can work with you to determine the best way to handle the migration to the cloud.

Any software that runs on a standard Windows OS will run on a VDI. There is no learning curve or training needed and the performance is equal to or better than a physical desktop PC. Some software may have licensing restrictions about running on a VDI; check your EULA to make sure you are in compliance.

When moving your IT infrastructure to the cloud, you will need more bandwidth than you typically need for internet-only access. Our VDIs require 1.5 MBPS for each cloud desktop running. For example, a 50-person office would need 75 MBPS of bandwidth.

Finally, you need to plan how you will migrate your data to the cloud. For smaller data requirements, less than 1 TB, we can upload your data over your internet connection after regular work hours. For large amounts of data, or to migrate faster, we can send you a storage appliance to copy your data and then ship it to us to load. Once we have your data and have built your servers and virtual desktops, you are ready to go live. We usually plan the final migration cutover on a weekend. On Monday morning your staff logs into their new desktops in the cloud and continues to work as usual.

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How do I calculate my VDI ROI? Is it worth doing?

Virtual desktop infrastructure can reduce costs, increase productivity, support mobility, and provide more flexibility for applications. But is it worth the investment? How can you determine the potential return on investment (ROI)? Many factors go into calculating VDI ROI: there are hard costs, like hardware, and soft costs, like training and increased productivity. You need to identify and quantify the costs and then compare that to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

Implementing virtual desktops won’t necessarily save you a lot of money, but if the implementation of virtual desktops is the same or similar to the cost of physical hardware, and you get all the benefits of VDI, this will help you identify your VDI ROI. There are many factors to consider before moving to VDI. You need to identify the types of users and VDIs you will need. You need to pick a vendor and platform and then start to define your costs. These are some of the typical areas of costs and savings when using VDI.

  • CAPEX – Capital purchases
  • OPEX – Operational expenses
  • Lower maintenance cost
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower power usage
  • Improved mobility
  • Better security
  • Built in DR
  • Built in backup
  • Improved collaboration
  • Support costs

For a more in depth look at Cloud ROI.

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What is the business problem you are trying to solve by moving to VDI?

There are many benefits to deploying virtual desktops, but it always returns to the question, “What business problem are you trying to solve with VDI?” Whether that is improved staff mobility, lowering IT expenses, or reducing your hardware maintenance, determine if VDI aligns with your corporate goals and meets your needs.

  1. Are you supporting remote users?
  2. Do you want to reduce hardware maintenance costs?
  3. Will you replace your current hardware with thin or zero clients as it goes end-of-life?
  4. Are you trying to virtualize an application and make it available to your staff?
  5. Are you consolidating and reducing the quantity of hardware?
  6. Do you need to collaborate better?
  7. Are you trying to allow your IT staff the time to be more strategic?
  8. Do you need your staff to be more mobile or are you looking to hire remote staff?

Identify your business challenge to see if VDI is the solution. If moving to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure makes sense for your company, contact us and we can get you in the cloud.

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Advance2000 IT Strategy Assessment

Pro Event Calendar

Aging Technology a Concern? An IT Road Map for the Future.

 

Aging Technology a Concern? An IT Road Map for the Future.

Does your technology provide your company a competitive advantage? Is your IT vendor a trusted advisor or just someone trying to sell you stuff? What happens when your aging equipment is no longer sold or supported? What are the three things every business should be doing with technology?

Lunch and Learn 8/16/2017

It is vital that your business have a technology road map to the future. Just like your business plan, you need an IT plan. A good IT partner will help you form a Strategic IT Plan that aligns with your company’s goals, saves money, improves productivity and PROTECTS your business. Join us for lunch and learn how to create an IT road map that takes your business to the next level.

Joseph Talamantez, Advance2000 Regional Director, and Brent Betourne, ALE Senior Systems Engineer, will discuss how we partner with our customers to help them understand and navigate the IT landscape. What should every company be doing and what products and services provide the best solutions to resolve business problems.

Register Here Today!

We hope to see you there!