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Confidence in the cloud

As organisations start to formulate longer term remote working strategies, IGEL is hoping to ease their transition to VDI and Desktop as a Service with a compatible product testing and verification programme. James Goulding reports

Lockdown has been something of a double-edged sword for IGEL, provider of a next generation operating system for accessing, managing and securing cloud workspaces. On the one hand, Covid’s social distancing and economic ramifications have made the act of selling software harder and slower. On the other, the shift to homeworking has renewed focus on end user computing and encouraged organisations to look at long-term work from home (WFH) strategies.

This, says IGEL Chief Marketing Officer Simon Townsend, has given the company a real boost and more pipeline and more opportunity in the first six months of 2020 than in the whole of 2019.

“When work from home came about, people grabbed their laptops and IT scrambled around to give them access, perhaps not worrying too much about security or performance. Now, organisations realise that the future will be a blend of working from home and working from the office. So, VDI and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) – the concept of having a Windows desktop hosted somewhere in the cloud and using an endpoint equipped with IGEL software to connect to it – has given us a tailwind,” he said.

Townsend argues that as businesses start to recover from the initial panic of equipping a remote workforce and consider more secure, resilient, flexible and productive ways to support a hybrid workforce in the long-term, many are revisiting virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and DaaS.

“Typically, an organisation has only got a couple of options. One is to go out and buy 1,000 laptops for the 1,000 employees who are now working from home. But that’s expensive in terms of capital expenditure and is a nightmare to manage. Secondly, you can deploy something like VDI, but you’ve then got to invest in all the hardware in your datacentre and the infrastructure. Or, you can implement Desktop as a Service, which you can scale up and down and switch on and off.

“COVID-19 has prompted organisations to say ‘We just need to go to a provider and switch on a service in the same way we would a Zoom account or an Office 365 account. We just want to turn around to Microsoft and say spin me up 1,000 desktops. I will pay monthly for them and I don’t want to worry about infrastructure’. So Desktop as a Service is seeing significant growth,” he said.

Management and control
IGEL benefits from this trend because its Linux-based operating system, which it describes as the OS for next generation workspaces, helps organisations migrate to the cloud very quickly and address some of the issues associated with implementing VDI and DaaS.

As well as providing secure access to cloud workspaces from the likes of Citrix, Amazon, Microsoft and VMware, the IGEL OS offers centralised management and control of a distributed portfolio of endpoints, supports a large ecosystem of compatible hardware, software and applications, and can be installed on any existing x86-64 computer, laptop/MacBook or thin client, removing the need for organisations to invest in new hardware.

“Ultimately, organisations are looking at how they can save money. What they don’t want to have to do is go out and buy a ton of kit for every single employee. We are able to say ‘For a third or a quarter of the price, you don’t need to rip or replace all your existing hardware; you can take this piece of software to extend its life and also enable a move to a cloud workspace, Desktop as a Service environment’,” explained Townsend.

IGEL Tech Partners wheel

Adding value
He adds that for partners the IGEL OS offers a way of adding value to customers who might be tempted to deal directly with DaaS providers.

“For a long time, many of the partners in this space have been focused on deploying either Citrix or VMWare solutions for customers. That obviously brought a whole heap of consultancy, but as those solutions move to the cloud, it becomes easier – although not completely simple – for a customer to adopt that technology. So, you find customers going direct to Citrix or to Microsoft or to VMWare and saying ‘Look, I am interested in your cloud solution. How do we switch it on?’.

“Partners and resellers are now looking at how they can add value to customers that consume cloud services because, in some cases, consuming cloud services negates the need for much of the consultancy work that partners used to provide. They are saying to those customers ‘When you move desktops to the cloud, you still have other challenges – you have challenges around the endpoint, challenges around cost, challenges around security’. So you end up with partners talking to a set of ecosystem partners that have technologies and solutions that fit around Desktop as a Service and cloud-delivered solutions, that add significant value and enhance the service they provide to their customers.”

For the last 10 or 15 years, IGEL has been integrating and embedding hardware, software and applications from more than 90 technology partners into its OS (see graphic overleaf), making it quicker and easier for organisations to implement solutions that meet their needs.

“Every single organisation has a slightly different requirement. Go into a financial institution and they may well have a financial application and a trading keyboard they need to get working. If you go into the Post Office, they will have different peripherals they need to plug into their devices. If you go into healthcare, people have got cards they use to tap in and tap out. Every single organisation we walk into has a different requirement. Because of the investment we have made in integrating different technologies, people say ‘Do you know what? I am going to go with IGEL because they have already integrated this technology; they already support the fact that I can do a Zoom call or a Microsoft Teams call over VDI and it just works’,” said Townsend.

IGEL Ready
In this context, the launch of the IGEL Ready programme looks a very clever move.

By opening up its edge OS to unlimited partner integration and introducing a formal, three -tier testing and verification process (Activated, Accelerated, Advanced), IGEL expects to expand its partner ecosystem from 95 companies to more than 150 by 2021.

Importantly, it will also give customers reassurance that when they move to virtual desktops or cloud workspaces they will be able to draw on a wide range of compatible technologies.

“Instead of having a relationship that is built on a handshake, we are putting in place a framework to say we will jointly test this software, make sure it works, document it, support it and verify it so that when an organisation goes out and chooses IGEL they know that it will work with any technology that has gone through that IGEL-ready programme and been verified,” explained Townsend.

IGEL is already working with numerous partners on product verification, including Goliath Technologies, Lakeside Software, LG Business Solutions, Liquidware, Login VSI, PrinterLogic, Sennheiser, Tehama, Cherry, ControlUp, deviceTRUST, Fluendo, Tricerat, SecMaker, OnLogic, Systec & Solutions, BUURST, Channel Mechanics, Veridium and EPOS.

Verified solutions will be listed in an IGEL Ready Showcase (igel.com/ready), under eight categories: cloud workspaces/VDI/DaaS; communication and collaboration; software and applications; endpoints; peripherals; printers and scanners; security; and analytics.

Townsend likens IGEL Ready to the App Store, arguing that it will expand the range of supported solutions and reassure users that what they buy will work out of the box.

“At a time like now when people are trying to deploy things significantly quicker, reduce the cost of implementation, get people working from home, when there is an ever changing cloud environment, with Citrix and Microsoft constantly updating their cloud-delivered desktops, you just need things that you know are going to work,” he said.

“With millions now working from home, we have all learnt that a cloud service is the most agile and best way of rapidly deploying technology and that rapid deployment is incredibly important as it allows organisations to stay productive. If the IGEL Ready programme gives customers a sense of confidence and allows them to deploy technology in a far quicker, easier and more cost-effective way then that is a good thing.”

igel.com/partners/technology-partners/

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2020