In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many companies had to move their employees from working in-office to exclusively working from home. One of VISTECH’s Managed IT clients that specializes in financial analysis of insurance companies found themselves in this situation.
The company was already using Microsoft Office products, including Microsoft 365. They also had proprietary software to complete analysis and document reporting for their worldwide client base. The company did not have remote access infrastructure to support its business and employees. It was essential for them to efficiently convert to fully remote business process.
Before the pandemic, the employees commuted to the office and rarely used remote connectivity. As their Managed IT provider, VISTECH needed to configure a high-performance, high-availability remote access environment and then train employees on the new technology. Printing, computer reboots, faxing, and other activities that typically required in-office staffing would now be supported remotely.
Using standard Microsoft technologies, VISTECH provided remote access to office resources for work-from-home employees. This was primarily accomplished via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) software. The office environment was updated with Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) to add extra protection in case of power issues, and other technologies were implemented to provide on-premise support for hardware problems. The end result was a fully operational and remotely managed office environment.
Employees were introduced to Microsoft collaboration tools, such as Teams, to enhance communication. As a result of the smooth transition, the executives of the company decided to move to a fully virtual environment. VISTECH utilized Microsoft Azure to create virtual servers and virtual workstations. Instead of remoting to their office machines, employees could connect to virtual workstations in Azure. VISTECH also upgraded the company’s Office 365 platform, including the Teams phone system. All these steps allowed the company to fully virtualize, seamlessly creating a work-from-anywhere environment.
After successfully virtualizing the network, servers, and computers in Azure, the performance of the environment improved, including the speed of the big data analysis. Since virtualized servers and workstations are subscriptions, not purchases, the implementation creates opportunities to add or remove resources from the network as they may or may not be needed. This is especially helpful when a company, for example, hires an intern and needs a new workstation that can be turned off after the summer. The subscription (or Operating Expense approach) leads to time and money savings when compared to purchasing new computers and software (or capital expense approach). Similarly, if a company’s database server needs additional disk space, it is a simple reconfiguration in Azure instead of a more expensive acquisition and installation project.
It may seem virtualized technology has a higher operating cost than in-office technology. Much of that is due to services packaged into the virtualization like maintenance & backup. In this case, the company terminated their office space lease. Rent savings more than cover the ongoing costs of virtualization. The company also no longer needs to budget for periodic capital expenditures of new equipment as this is built into the monthly Azure and Microsoft 365 charges. Thanks to VISTECH the company’s staff are now able to smoothly work from anywhere. Whether that is from within the same city or between countries.
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