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How VDI is Enabling Growth while Mitigating Risk

Posted by Audrey Levi on Jul 24, 2017 9:31:18 AM
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Healthcare IT security

When your healthcare institution starts to scale, technical and network needs can multiply exponentially. This means that even the simplest tasks, like applying operating system (OS) patches or making sure that virus definitions are up to date, can quickly turn into a long, drawn out, tedious process that has to be repeated on hundreds or even thousands of desktops.

With the rise of mobility in healthcare, the number of devices on the network has significantly increased.  Not applying a simple update can have dire consequences. With ransomware attacks like WannaCry on the rise, the healthcare industry needs to ensure that all end points are secure.

By implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure (“VDI”), your organization can seamlessly enable growth while mitigating risks. Centralizing endpoint control makes IT systems easier and less time consuming to maintain.  VDI offers an extra layer of security by making sure critical data stays inside the data center.

What is VDI?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from physical devices. It enables employees to access data and applications securely from within the organization and remote locations with minimal risk of data loss, because information is never actually on the device used to access it. In a VDI environment, the desktop image is hosted in the data center and not on the physical device. So no matter what happens to the end user’s machine, sensitive data is protected.

VDI also simplifies the traditional process of desktop management. By replacing a traditional OS with a virtual environment, network administrators can offer end-users a familiar desktop experience while controlling all devices from a single location. VDI reduces deployment time of new desktops with orchestration and hyper-converged infrastructure can reduce TCO by as much as 80%.

The technology available in the consumer markets typically outpaces what a business can provide for employees, so it makes sense to allow employees to use their own devices within the corporate network. Mobile access also allows healthcare professionals to take their device from room to room, resulting in a more versatile approach to patient care. 

VDI is beneficial for both IT administrators and end-users, ultimately creating a more efficient, flexible and secure workplace for the organization.

What are the risks associated with VDI?

Network Security, VDI

Risks associated with VDI include visibility, IT governance complexity, a single point of failure, network security, and the need for new IT skills.

New policies and procedure that account for all virtual assets need to be in place to ensure compliance with security best practices.  Faster desktop deployment may cause the enterprise to lose visibility of every asset that needs to be protected.

Data is more secure when stored in the data center, compared to endpoint devices, but the entire network may be less secure when employees are accessing it from potentially insecure connections.  Moreover, IT needs to protect critical virtual desktops from unauthorized access and exposure to malicious software.

VDI requires a highly fault-tolerant back end infrastructure to prevent a single point of failure (a single VDI server) from causing all endpoints to go down.   The complexity and cost of creating a redundant, fault tolerant environment may not be insignificant. 

VDI administrators require a different skillset than traditional administrators because VDI is dependent on a tightly integrated set of technologies and services.  The network, server, application and storage admins must work in unison to make a VDI solution successful.

How is risk abated?

Risks in a virtual ecosystem can be significantly reduced and controlled by following the same security protocols followed for an OS that runs directly on hardware. Companies should implement security best practices that include patch management, regular security scans, implementation of data loss prevention, use of strong passwords, and anti-malware protection (“AMP”). 

IT training can prepare existing IT staff to properly manage and support a VDI infrastructure.  Effective change management and communication can prepare end-users for the virtual desktop experience.


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Topics: Security, Healthcare, Mobility, virtualization, networking, technology