Migrating traditional Windows workloads to the Cloud helps increase security in a hybrid working world (Guest blog from IGEL)
Author: Jack Hicks, Presales Engineer (UK&I), IGEL
Running Windows locally on an endpoint device has been the default option for many end user IT deployments for a long time.
While this method of delivering Windows applications has its inherent benefits, it creates a lot of security challenges for any organisation, especially given the “work from anywhere” or “hybrid working” world we now find ourselves living in.
Many end users that would have traditionally been working from an office location (complete with the expected security solutions), are now expected to have the option to work from home at least some of the time. The Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns showed people what was possible in this regard and greatly accelerated this trend.
Windows is versatile but complex
Windows is designed to be able to handle many types of workloads for many types of users. From a functionality point, this makes it’s a fantastic solution. However, as with all solution implementations, there are always potential drawbacks. One of the main ones being securing the endpoint that Windows runs on. The strength that Windows has in how versatile it can be also means that there are a lot of potential attack surfaces for malicious software, bad actors and malware to utilise when trying to disrupt an organisation and its workflows.
You can implement various security layers, policies, and scheduled updates to Windows to mitigate these risks, but when a device is off your network, with the possibility to hold local data, it’s hard for an IT admin to have 100% control over an organisation’s estate and data.
Migrating Windows Apps and desktops to the Cloud
There is a solution that helps to remove this security challenge of Windows, while allowing your end users to continue using the applications they need to do their job. It’s a solution that has been available for a while in the form of desktop virtualisation. Traditionally you would use Citrix, VMWare Horizon or Microsoft RDP virtualised desktops to facilitate this, from an on-premises datacentre location. However, the development and increased maturity of these solutions and the fact that they are deployable within cloud-based infrastructures makes them much more accessible to implement.
Microsoft AVD and Office 365 Cloud PC, Citrix Cloud, Horizon Cloud, AWS, Workspot and others can all provide ways to do this, so there is almost always a solution to fit your end user’s needs. With Windows apps and desktops being run in this way you have a solution that is easy to keep updated, one that give more control regarding how data is stored, secured, and backed up, and a simpler way to give your end users a consistent user experience without having to overprovision security policies.
Accessing Windows in the Cloud using IGEL OS
If you have moved your Windows workload to the cloud, and are getting the security and manageability benefits of doing so, it’s counterproductive to continue running a full Windows OS on your endpoint devices, as you still would need to provide your current security mitigations and invest the time needed to maintain them.
This is where IGEL OS and the new Cosmos Ecosystem comes in.
IGEL OS is a read only, secure endpoint operating system that holds no user data. It is designed specifically to connect to cloud-based apps and desktops, virtual desktops, and DaaS/SaaS applications.
It incorporates Citrix, VMWare Horizon, Microsoft AVD native clients as well as others, to deliver a full Windows app or desktop experience. This solution includes typical office applications, Unified Communications platforms, as well as high performance workloads such as CAD / medical imaging / video editing. Due to IGEL’s partner integrations, it also provides full support for essential peripherals like audio headsets, webcams, multiple monitors, smartcard readers, dictation devices and more.
IGEL OS is designed to be run on x86 based desktops, laptops, thin clients, and any other form factor you might need. Anything running IGEL OS can be configured, patched, and have components updated remotely as needed using its included centralised management suite.
Effectively, IGEL OS can help you make the most of the security investment you have made into migrating your windows apps and desktops to the cloud. As a bonus, because the system is so resource light compared to Windows, it can extend the life of your endpoints which has great device cost and environmental advantages, on top of the security benefits that it provides.
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