The Future of Work is Here — and It’s Radically Flexible
The vital role a remote access solution plays in modernizing your workplace
Business as usual is never coming back — or at least not in the way it once was. The global pandemic has impacted nearly every industry and has fundamentally altered how we work. Even businesses that were known for stringent in-office protocols have made sweeping changes to support remote employees and a hybrid workforce.
The past few years have spurred real shifts and transformed work/life as we know it. Employees are challenging traditional ways of thinking, demanding more flexible accommodations, and ultimately deciding that it’s time to shake up the status quo. In response, organizations are re-evaluating the policies and strategies that worked pre-pandemic. Forward thinking leaders have realized that, in regard to the workplace, the post-COVID era is poised for big changes. They are embracing technology that not only capitalizes on evolving dynamics but can provide a strategic business advantage to a distributed workforce in a hybrid world.
Remote access plays an instrumental role in the revolution of the workplace and is a core component of the future of work. As a provider of enterprise-grade remote access software, Leostream has assisted large organizations across nearly every major industry in making remote desktops possible. In this whitepaper, we’re sharing insights into using the Leostream Platform to enable key themes impacting the enterprise and the future of the workplace.
Changing Workforce Expectations Requires a Response
As companies forge a path forward, it’s important to realize that the world of work is different. Radical flexibility about when, where, and how much people work is a key trend that is gaining rapid momentum. Gartner reports that, “75% of the workforce expects flexible working arrangements and 39% would leave their current positions if their employees were to go back to a fully on-site model”.1
Meeting these expectations is more attainable across some industries than others. Obviously, remote work is impractical for tasks that require people to physically be on-site. For example, a surgeon can’t perform an operation from home! That said, the vast majority of industries are capable of providing remote options for many users and tasks.
So, why is it that even when remote access is possible, some organizations and entire industries have shied away from making the shift?
In the past, there simply wasn’t enough demand from workers or pressure on organizations for improved flexibility. That pressure now exists. Other reasons why industries have been slow to adopt remote access is the perception that it’s too difficult to meet certain security or workflow requirements — which is often the cause for hesitation amongst organizations in the government, healthcare, and financial sectors. This perception can be put to rest as the right technology is available to meet even the strictest security practices and advanced workflows.
Confronted with such profound changes, organizations must overcome the hurdles or risk falling behind.
The Future of Work is Here with Leostream
If your enterprise has been at a crossroads on how to restructure its technology to support remote and hybrid workers, then it’s in good company. Countless organizations have turned to Leostream to help keep employees engaged and productive with reliable access to corporate resources.
The Leostream Platform embodies two decades of research and development in enabling hosted desktop environments, including on-premises VDI and workstations, hybrid cloud, and high-performance display protocols. According to Storage Review, the Leostream Platform has proven to be one of the world’s most robust desktop-connection management platforms with a remote-access feature set that allows today’s enterprises to choose the best-of-breed components to satisfy complex security, cost, and flexibility needs.
What’s more is that our customer success team is here to help. As pioneers in the virtual desktop and hosted application space, we are experts at ensuring that your environment supports every aspect of your organization’s unique IT needs. The Leostream Customer Success team is available to make recommendations on the various components of your environment and can assist in architecting your design.
Preparing for Shifting Dynamics and Leveraging Leostream
As you prioritize and prepare for the future of work, Leostream can help position your company for success. Below we outline several areas that have been future focus areas for our customers.
Let’s explore some of these major themes and how a remote access solution provided by Leostream can help you to navigate what lies ahead.
- Cultivating a “People-Centered” Approach
Designing the work environment around the physical location where people gather, i.e. the office, many not function as well moving forward. A new approach is to take the focus off of the location and to put individuals at the heart of the design. By putting your people at the center, you can build a supportive working environment that can enhance business results.
Providing flexible work experiences and intentional collaboration are some of the guiding principles for organizations that want to lean into a people-centric approach. Organizations can deliver on this value proposition by making remote access capabilities available to workers and moving away from an on-site model that forces teams to meet in the office.
Having a remote access tool with collaboration options makes it possible for employees to efficiently share resources when they are not physically together. Leostream offers a variety of specific features around collaboration, including the ability for users to simultaneously be logged into the same session.
- Transforming the Office Environment
The workplace itself is ripe for change. Since many employees have proven to be effective and satisfied with a work-from-home model, it begs the question of what purpose the office serves? By creating an elevated office experience or one that offers benefits over working from home, companies aim to bring employees back together in-person.
The goal at Leostream is to help you create a user-experience that is the same regardless of whether someone is within the four walls of the organization or off-site. By detaching people from workstations under their desks, they can remain productive when enjoying new office environment perks and transition to a home-based office without skipping a beat.
- Focusing on Talent Retention and Recruitment
Retaining your best employees and attracting new hires have always been top priorities, but these are now taking center stage as workers consider their flexibility options. In what’s been dubbed, “the Great Reshuffle,” people continue to leave current jobs in droves for betters fits elsewhere.
With a proper remote access solution in place, organizations can retain current employees who want flexibility. In addition, offering telecommuting capabilities breaks down geographical barriers so that talent can be recruited and on-boarded from any location. This presents a significant business advantage for companies wanting to broaden their recruiting reach and land the best talent.
Many Leostream customers have been able to tap a wider talent pool, source new candidates and make hires based on skills without being tied to location. “Boom and bust” industries that experience busy seasons and project-based work can take advantage of tools within Leostream to quickly spin up desktops for new talent when needed and then tear them back down once a deadline has been met. As an example, this has been a major benefit to production studios that travel to various movie sets. Production teams can quickly hire local staff to be equipped with virtual desktops and share resources with other top talent based anywhere in the world.
- Reprioritizing Resources in a Hybrid World
A geographically dispersed workforce, changing expectations, and perceived loss of visibility are all factors impacting managers. Empowering managers with the tools they need to reprioritize resources helps to eliminate bottlenecks and improve business efficiencies.
Using remote access software that consolidates and centralizes desktop connections allows managers to monitor resource usage in an impactful way. Leostream provides a single repository to view and manage all remote desktop sessions and associated resources and provides the framework to share, redistribute, and reorganize as necessary within minutes.
- Enhancing Digital Transformations
As organizations continue to pivot, an on-going initiative is reviewing, updating, and adopting digital products that streamline process and provide value to customers.
A crucial aspect in this shift is equipping personnel with digital access to company resources, no matter where that personnel is based. Long gone are the days where having a remote access solution was a “nice to have”. It is now a business necessity and paramount to continuing to operate no matter the circumstances.
Moving the workforce to a digitally enabled future means you’ll need high availability. After all, what good is having a remote access solution, if users struggle to connect to it? At Leostream, we understand the critical nature of building a performant and resilient desktop environment and offer a variety of ways to ensure business continuity with high availability, disaster recovery, and capacity planning.
- Improving Technical Equity
As the workforce confronts conventional ways of thinking, a top priority is ensuring an equitable and inclusive employee culture. Removing barriers to technology is one way to promote equity. Remote access solutions that are easy to deploy ensure that all workers can be armed with the right technology at their fingertips.
Leostream turns your remote desktop goals into a highly scalable solution that is able to be customized to meet the needs of all of your users. Whether you’re looking to deploy a few standard applications to task workers or high-performance workstations to power users, we have a variety of methods for you to achieve your goals and quickly roll out your initiatives to an expansive user-base.
Bringing a distributed workforce together with centralized desktop management
Cornerstone to bringing a remote or hybrid team together is centralizing resources, which is exactly with the Leostream Platform aims to do.
Without the proper technology, having a distributed workforce places more pressure on IT teams to oversee the desktop environment. Having employees working from different locations, requires tools to centralize management functions in a way that is powerful and agile. When applied to your remote access solution, a centralized approach to desktop management can unify who is logging in, from where, and via which device.
The benefits of centralized desktop management for remote access include:
Monitoring: When you have users accessing corporate resources from a variety of locations and devices, you’re going to want monitoring and tracking. You may not need to be monitoring users’ actual sessions, but having a way to audit activity and access points into the system in a comprehensive manner can aid with security. Being able to monitor and spot unusual login attempts can help prevent cyber threats. Plus, having the ability to pull logs and reports about how people are interacting with the system can be invaluable for audits and compliance purpose.
Resource optimization: By leveraging monitoring tools and incorporating automation into the design of your remote access deployment, you can make the best use of your technical resources. Customers who have implemented Leostream have the insights they need to track desktop usage and make meaningful business decisions with that information. For instance, you may be able to save on expensive applications by centrally hosting pools of desktops for workers to share. In certain situations, you may find it more affordable to move some workloads to the cloud where virtual machines can be spun up quickly and torn back down on demand.
Streamlined IT: Without a centralized point of management, controlling the desktop environment across a distributed workforce can easily become fragmented — this is especially the case with a high volume of users or in a hybrid environment with a mixture of on-prem and cloud technologies. You’ll want features that can automate processes and ease IT tasks. In terms of automating remote desktop connections, there are plenty of ways to eliminate manual intervention if you have the right functionality.
For example, within the Leostream Platform, you’ll find a variety of highly customizable pools, plans, and policies that define who can access what and when based on pre-set criteria. This level of granular control is useful for complex workflows. For large organizations, applying tiered levels of access control amongst IT staff enables teams to set appropriate permissions for all of the various administrators involved in overseeing the desktop environment.
Ability to scale: Hand-in-hand with streamlined IT operations comes the ability to scale. With the right pieces in place, bringing in new hires and arming them with remote access capabilities is just a few clicks away. By centralizing desktop management for remote access, you can roll out new initiatives more quickly and apply changes in bulk.
Technology imperatives for a successful remote access program in the modern era
Enabling remote and hybrid work through technology looks different for different organizations, but regardless of how you deploy there are certain imperatives that need to be addressed.
Nailing the user-experience
In the past, when remote access was considered a frill, workers may have had a higher tolerance for latency, clunky interfaces or cumbersome logins. These days, some users accept the minimum level of performance to accomplish their work, but most welcome more sophistication.
It is possible to deliver a remote desktop experience that is consistent whether someone is logging in from home, the office, or anywhere else. By inventorying how end-users are interacting with their workstations you can get a good sense of what needs to be accommodated. For instance, do users need dual monitors or other peripherals? How often will they be working from mobile devices?
One of the biggest decisions that you will make is choosing a remote display protocol, which is the data transfer technology that enables end users to interact with their remote desktop across the network. If you opt for a full-stack VDI solution, you will likely be locked into whatever display protocol is included. However, if you opt for a vendor neutral platform like Leostream then you can choose from a wide spectrum of remote display protocols in order to select the best protocol for the task at hand. We often have designers and engineers connecting to GPU-intensive workstations requiring high-performance display protocols. We suggest reserving commodity protocols like RDP for users that don’t need as much power.
Balancing security and ease of use
With cyber threats on the rise, one of the greatest challenges for organizations undergoing remote access planning is striking a balance between security and usability. There is a fine line between implementing enough safeguards to appropriately lock down corporate resources and creating an environment that is too inconvenient and frustrating to access. The reality is, this is a line that many enterprises must toe.
Security starts with authentication, and in the world of remote access, multifactor authentication (MFA) is the key to ensuring only authorized users have access to your hosted desktop environment.
Having options here is a must, and you want to avoid reinventing how you authenticate users. This is why the Leostream Platform integrates with standard corporate MFA providers, including PingID, Duo, Okta, or any other Identity Provider (IdP) that supports SAML or the RADIUS protocol.
Another way of controlling access is using our special locations feature, which allows you to toggle MFA requirements on and off based on where the user logs in from.
To satisfy the demand for easy logins, we also offer a proprietary gateway, which is a secure, internet-based access point that streamlines the connection of users to their desktops. This creates a seamless and performant model for users without the complexity of software downloads or needing to walk employees through using virtual private networks (VPNs).
Planning for unknowns
Given the changing circumstances around where and how people work, it has been understandably tough for organizations to determine timelines and where to make technology investments and upgrades. While we know the demands for remote access and more flexible working environments are here to stay, it’s hard to plan for how the exact scenarios will play out into the future.
Since it’s impossible to predict the specifics of how your remote access solution will need to advance, the best way to future proof your IT is to partner with established vendors that will keep your options open.
Choosing products that integrate well with others can augment the usability of your solution for many years to come.
Leostream has carefully designed its software to integrate with the wide spectrum of other technology often found in remote access deployments — from hosting platforms to hypervisors, and protocols to authentication servers. This level of flexibility allows organizations to add new technology into the mix as they see fit. Flexibility is truly what we believe is at the heart of futureproofing your remote access solution.
The Post-COVID era has already arrived and brought with it the demand for greater flexibility. A robust remote access solution keeps employees productive whether they are in the office, working from home, or on the road. By implementing Leostream, your organization can connect end users to their desktops and applications securely and from anywhere.
We’re here to help you achieve a successful remote access deployment that will satisfy your employees and IT department. For inquiries or to discuss a custom product demonstration please contact [email protected]
1 Gartner®, “How CIOs Can Help Build a Resilient Hybrid Organization”, CIO Research Team, December 16, 2021.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.
Accelerate Large-Scale VDI Deployments with Leostream and Nutanix
Build and manage highly scalable, performant, and automated virtual desktop environments with the Leostream Platform™ and Nutanix AHV
Building a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is one of the tried and true ways to support a remote workforce. However, the cost and complexity of starting a VDI initiative from scratch is often what prevents organizations from moving forward.
To overcome these challenges and to reap the benefits of centrally hosting virtual desktops, organizations have turned to hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI). Rather than procuring the compute, network, and storage resources separately (as is the case in a traditional VDI deployment) HCI gives organizations an advantage by combining the virtualization components into a single stack. Nutanix is the industry leader in HCI and sets the gold standard for accelerating VDI deployments.
A key component of any hosted desktop environment is software for managing remote desktop connections. The Leostream Platform™ is the most widely utilized vendor-independent remote desktop connection management solution, enabling enterprises to integrate the complex array of clients, hosting platforms, guest operating systems, and display protocols required for successful VDI, hosted desktop, and application deployments.
Together, Nutanix and Leostream provide a robust and comprehensive virtual desktop solution for on-premises and remote users by leveraging HCI — without the expense and difficulties of traditional VDI. The end result is a secure hosted desktop environment that is easy for enterprises to monitor, manage, and scale.
FACILITATE ANYWHERE REMOTE ACCESS FOR ALL USERS
With Leostream and Nutanix, both IT staff and end-users benefit from the power of VDI — simplified and centralized management for administrators and more flexibility for a mobile workforce. The Leostream/Nutanix integration enables a wide range of use cases that are commonly seen across large organizations and enterprises and delivers the following advantages:
Choose from a variety of remote display protocols
Not only can users connect to their desktops and applications from commodity display protocols like RDP, VNC, and SSH, but integrations with high performance protocols including those with GPU acceleration ensure an optimal end-user experience.
Connect users from their preferred client device
Connections can be launched from any device including thin clients, zero clients, Chromebooks and mobile devices.
Provide VPN-less access for seamless connections
By using the Leostream Gateway for seamless in-browser connections, remote users gain VPN-less access to VMs hosted on Nutanix AHV clusters.
Prioritize security and authentication methods
There are many ways to lock down corporate resources and stay compliant by incorporating advanced security features like multi-factor authentication, rogue user management, high-availability failover, etc.
Manage multiple virtualization hosts side-by-side
For those running Nutanix with VMware vSphere or OpenStack underneath, Leostream offers a way to manage everything from within a single interface.
SCALE CAPACITY AND EFFECTIVELY MANAGE A HIGH VOLUME OF REMOTE DESKTOP CONNECTIONS
When it comes to scaling large environments, having the right backend infrastructure is a critical part of the equation. By design, Nutanix is positioned to scale VDI. Unlike traditional data center concepts which operate in component silos, HCI combines and integrates the virtualization pieces into a single solution. Having a complete HCI platform that is pre-built saves time and the headache of testing various software/hardware and dealing with compatibility issues. This means customers can deploy in a matter of days.
What’s unique about HCI is its ability to horizontally scale simply by adding nodes. This makes introducing capacity when needed easier without this risk of under or overprovisioning storage resources.
The introduction of Leostream into the solution provides a granular level of control that IT administrators need to effectively manage a high volume of remote desktop connections.
The Leostream Platform is uniquely customizable and offers a range of functionality for provisioning desktops, setting access control policies, monitoring connections and optimizing resource allocation. Whether your environment has 100 users or 100,000, the Leostream Platform ensures the right person has access to the right resource when and where it is needed.
Nutanix and Leostream jointly help customers leverage VDI using the advantages of hyperconverged technology. Nutanix provides a simple yet powerful backend virtualization framework for centrally hosting desktops and applications, and Leostream puts all the tools necessary to provision, monitor, and manage large-scale desktop environments right at IT administrators’ fingertips.
For sales inquiries or to request a free trial, email: [email protected].
Leostream provides the critical remote desktop connection management technology required for organizations to build successful large-scale remote access solutions for physical, virtual, and cloud-hosted desktops. The Leostream Platform is the industry’s most widely deployed vendor-independent remote desktop connection management solution, enabling enterprises to integrate the complex array of clients, hosting platforms, guest operating systems, and display protocols required for successful VDI, hosted desktop, and hosted application deployments.
Flexible VDI and Secure Remote Access for Government Organizations Secure and control virtual desktop resources with Leostream, ClearCube, and Stratodesk
SECURE AND CONTROL VIRTUAL DESKTOP RESOURCES WITH LEOSTREAM, CLEARCUBE, AND STRATODESK
With continued adoption of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and remote access capabilities across the public sector, government agencies — at the local, state and federal level — are seeking ways to centralize hosted resources and simplify management of end users and workstations. The value of leveraging VDI and enabling remote access is significant and requires meeting cost savings, security, and product scope demands.
To do this, enterprises need:
- A robust and scalable administrative console to manage, control and monitor the desktop environment and launch user connections from a variety of devices
- Secure and reliable hardware and endpoint solutions like thin clients and workstation computers
- An advanced endpoint operating system with a focus on security capable of running on a variety of hardware
Leostream, ClearCube, and Stratodesk have aligned to enable a flexible solution with proven success amongst government organizations to satisfy the requirements listed above. This collaboration delivers on all fronts —increased security, performance, reliability, and resilience — to address a wide range of use cases for government and military entities.
The Leostream Platform – A Comprehensive Platform for Managing End User Connections to Hosted and Remote Workstations
Leostream solves all of the complex problems associated with how users connect to hosted and remote workstations, and how those connections are managed. From a single-pane-of-glass, administrators can manage and connect users to VDI, cloud desktops, physical workstations and other types of hosted IT assets across a range of hosting platforms. Defense and government agencies around the country depend on the flexibility and advanced security features available through Leostream.
Authentication is key: Lock down access to only appropriate users with a variety of authentication measures including multi-factor authentication and smart cards. Define access based upon security clearance and location of the end user.
Tightly control users: Utilize desktop pools, plans, and policies to control users’ connections. Ensure that only authorized users have access and that the appropriate actions are taken when the user finishes with an application, such as deleting the desktop.
Track and monitor usage: Using audit-level tracking of user connections, administrators can monitor activity such as connections, disconnects, logins, logouts, etc.
Build a flexible environment: With support for an array of hosting platforms, back end operating systems, client types, and display protocols, Leostream allows an organization to build the hosting environment that best suits its needs.
ClearCube: Secure Endpoint Devices and Solutions for a Complete Virtual or Remote Desktop Experience
Whether an organization is centralizing workstations for on-site users or offering remote access, government agencies trust ClearCube Technology to help secure data by providing endpoint solutions like zero clients, thin clients, mini PCs and rack mountable blade workstation computers.
ClearCube has a dominant presence at thousands of public sector and enterprise locations and has ISO 9001:2015 certification for design, development, and manufacturing remote solutions that effectively meet the security, compatibility, and sustainability mandates in government agencies.
Blade PCs guarantee the highest level of workstation reliability, seamless manageability, and quick cyber incident recovery for crucial government agency centers such as E911, law enforcement and first responders.
Hardware solutions are rarely a one-size-fits-all. ClearCube’s unique ability is its capacity to customize solutions to meet the needs of customers on a case-by-case situation. ClearCube’s rack mounted blade PCs have a 99.99% uptime resulting in a 38% reduction in help desk incidents and a 69% reduction in end-user downtime in comparison to a traditional desktop PC. By placing zero clients in the work environment there is a reduction in the noise and heat generated by PCs with a seamless integration to the data center while still providing high performance graphics and video across multiple monitors.
Highly reliable, flexible and redundant: ClearCube solutions deliver 24x7x365 situational awareness based on data from multiple sources often including some with high definition video requirements.
Centralized computing solutions: With automated maintenance and deployment capabilities, ClearCube solutions are easy to set up for the next iteration of Windows and other application upgrades. There are no full-scale hardware refresh cycles involved.
Stratodesk NoTouch — #1 Endpoint OS and Management Software for your Preferred VDI Environment
Stratodesk NoTouch Center and Stratodesk NoTouch OS together enable organizations to transform any PC, thin client, laptop or Raspberry Pi device into a secure and centrally managed VDI/DaaS endpoint. Stratodesk NoTouch OS is a Linux-based, small footprint hardware agnostic operating system allowing organizations to cost effectively scale and manage endpoints. By working seamlessly across x86 and ARM/Raspberry Pi based hardware products, Stratodesk NoTouch Center provides a unified platform for all EUC enterprise endpoints. Increase endpoint security, simplify management and universalize user experience while also maximizing the benefits of existing desktop hardware through PC Repurposing. Plus, Stratodesk NoTouch OS supports DoD certificates, CAC support, and FIPS wipe.
Increased security: Since Stratodesk NoTouch OS is Linux-based, once it is installed on an endpoint device it is virtually impervious to common threats facing x86 devices. What’s more, with Stratodesk NoTouch OS, no data is stored on the local device. All of the information and data will be stored on a central and secure server. Additionally, Government entities can add a further layer of security thanks to Stratodesk NoTouch Disk Encryption.
Easily manage multiple worksites: Stratodesk NoTouch Center allows you to manage all of your worksites as if they were working within your LAN. Set groups, configure permissions, and even enable BYOD.
Save on costs: Stratodesk NoTouch OS repurposes your existing hardware into high performing thin clients. Easily scale up to fill new requirements from additional offices with the low cost Citrix Ready workspace hub.
MOBILE WORKFORCE & REMOTE ACCESS
Provide government and military workers with network access from multiple work sites across a variety of devices without compromising on security. Manage all endpoints from a feature-rich dashboard.
Eliminate the need for desk-side applications and keep sensitive data off of endpoint devices. Tightly control user authorization with MFA and leverage robust access controls for the highest level of security.
Support GPU intensive workloads for specialized government personnel requiring high power workstations. Choose from a variety of display protocols supported by both Leostream and Stratodesk, such as Teradici PCoIP®, NICE DCV and Mechdyne TGX.
Bridge the gap between on-site infrastructure and the cloud through a single portal. Simplify multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud management of resources hosted in Azure®, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, and more.
RAPIDLY PROVISION NEW DESKTOPS
Streamline the onboarding process for contractors and ensure that the right users get access to the right resources, every time, and from wherever they roam. Choose from persistent and non-persistent desktops, shared or personal desktops, and everything in between.
SUPPORT FOR DARK SITES
Environments can function entirely off the internet, making them ideal for isolated networks and dark site deployments. Leverage Leostream as a local authentication server in environments with no access to external corporate authentication servers.
Leostream, ClearCube and Stratodesk, deliver an all-in-one solution including VDI, the world’s most powerful Thin Client OS, Stratodesk NoTouch, and the tested and proven hardware from ClearCube.
This collaboration has been purposefully designed to meet the performance and security requirements for government organizations wanting to centrally manage resources — on-premises, in the cloud or across hybrid environments.
By leveraging Leostream, government entities consolidate and safeguard access to hosted desktops.
Meanwhile, Stratodesk deploys across every endpoint, ensuring security and simplified endpoint management for the entire fleet of endpoints.
Lastly, ClearCube devices are high powered and affordable, making them the ideal device for budget conscious government agencies to quickly and effectively scale.
ClearCube devices are available with Stratodesk NoTouch OS directly out of the box. With the inclusion of Leostream Connect Client, IT teams can quickly deploy to workers everywhere and expedite the connections to their Leostream environments.
How to Choose a Display Protocol for your Remote Desktop Users
Selecting the right remote display protocol is an important part of every hosted desktop initiative. After all, the display protocol defines how end users connect to their hosted applications, and determines rendering performance. These two aspects have a big impact on your end users’ experience, which is why choosing the best option is not something to take lightly.
With all that being said, in the context of designing the entire hosted environment, picking a display protocol isn’t always top of mind. When people come to us who are exploring hosted desktop solutions they are often looking to us for guidance. As the provider of the industry’s most comprehensive connection broker, Leostream is continuously evaluating potential display protocols for integration purposes. Unlike full-stack solutions, which come bundled with a display protocol, we remain vendor neutral and support a wide variety of third-party options. This ensures that our customers can make the best choice based on their specific requirements and utilize multiple display protocols. As such, we spend a significant amount of time analyzing and reviewing display protocols and their features and benefits. In this guide, we will be sharing our insights and providing considerations when comparing offerings.
Finding the best fit: It’s all about the end-user experience
In the past, choosing the right protocol hinged on striking a balance between a good end-user experience, the bandwidth available on the network, and the compute power supplied by the hardware. Since networks have gotten faster and bandwidth is more readily available, these factors are no longer major parts of the decision unless you know your users will be connecting from low-bandwidth areas where they could experience latency. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be extra mindful during the testing stage of evaluating protocols to ensure the solution addresses these elements adequately.
Historically, security has also been an important part of the discussion and a differentiator between vendors. The good news is that these days every protocol out there now encrypts screen transfer. While there are nuances associated with various encryption methods, all of the major players seem to sufficiently satisfy general security concerns.
So what really matters when comparing display protocols? What it comes down to is finding a solution that fulfills your end users’ needs. Because your end user will be regularly interacting with the display protocol, choosing the right one can make or break the entire experience for them.
To best approach the decision, we recommend mapping out your user requirements and evaluating solutions based on that. Start by inventorying all the device types your end users have, and all the tasks they need to accomplish, including what they need to connect to. Will you have Windows, Linux, and MacOS on the remote side? Do you have to support mobile devices? Look for outlying cases both on what the users connect from and to, so you have a firm understanding of the workflows you need to accommodate and the level of performance required.
While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some points to contemplate:
- What are your end-user requirements for multi-media, USB device redirection, or other peripheral devices like Wacom tablets, etc.?
- Do you have different types of users, for example task workers that run word processing applications and power users running graphic-intensive applications?
- What operating systems are you planning to deliver on your remote desktops or use on your client devices? Are you planning to support BYOD and remote access? If so, make sure your chosen display protocol handles all possible client device types.
- Do you want to use Zero or thin clients? If you are using Zero clients, which display protocol does it natively support? If using thin clients, what operating system does it use and can you install additional client software?
- Do you need a display protocol that supports collaboration, where two users are simultaneously logged into the same session?
- Do users connect to workstations with a GPU or are you using a virtual environment that supports GPU passthrough or vGPU?
When it comes to the end-user experience, the main requirement to focus on is performance. For task workers and those who need access to productivity applications, a free or low-cost display protocol is likely suitable, such as those provided by VNC and RDP. We refer to these as commodity protocols because they are suitable for a wide range of scenarios.
However, sometimes VNC or RDP won’t cut it. If you have users who create 3-D renderings, build CAD models, edit media, or do a host of other graphic-intensive tasks, then you need a more advanced alternative. For providing users with a consistent “at-desk” experience, you’ll need a high performance display protocol like HP ZCentral Remote Boost (highlights include video and web flash animations), Teradici PCoIP (defined colors and distortion-free graphics), Mechdyne TGX (adored by engineers, designers, and creators) and RemoteFX (straight from Microsoft so ideal when working in Azure) and NoMachine (great for Mac users).
What are popular display protocols?
Many times, prospective customers come to us stating that they need a full-stack VDI solution like those offered by Citrix and VMware. After further conversations, often what they are really after is the display protocol locked into that stack – Citrix provides HDX and VMware has PCoIP and Blast.
Outside of those stacks, there are many other options, which we alluded to previously. Here is a list of the popular offerings, all of which Leostream supports. More often than not, our customers find that it’s most advantageous and cost effective to include third-party protocols like those outlined below into the design. (High-performance protocols are marked with an *).
- VNC (RealVNC, TigerVNC, TightVNC, and UltraVNC) – VNC is an established offering that is tried and true. While not a high-performance display protocol, it is often acceptable for task workers, especially those running MacOS or Linux. Free versions are available and it works well with open source solutions.
- Microsoft RDP and RemoteFX (including FreeRDP, xrdp, and rdesktop clients) – This display protocol is often a default for task workers. For Microsoft-based organizations or those running on Azure it’s a logical choice because RemoteFX is wrapped into licensing and many options are free!
- Mechdyne TGX* – This display protocol has become popular in the oil and gas industry for providing pixel-perfect rendering which is critical for engineers. TGX also offers collaboration tools and runs on both Windows and Linux.
- NICE DCV*– Owned by AWS, NICE DCV is a common choice for those hosting desktops in the cloud. This high performance protocol leverages GPU and is great for AWS initiatives, but can also be used on premises.
- NoMachine* – Another high performance display protocol, NoMachine, is well received by MacOS and Linux users and also works with Windows. A key feature is its multi-user support, which allows multiple independent sessions to run on a single machine.
- Scyld Cloud Workstation* – Scyld is a mature offering with MacOS support and is also popular amongst artists in the media and entertainment industry. Its HTML-5 client has some advanced features including multi-monitor display.
- Teradici PCoIP by HP (Cloud Access Software and Remote Workstation Cards)* –Teradici has a strong reputation for security, specifically with regards to handling Zero clients. PCoIP is considered a premier option for the media and entertainment industry and the display protocol also has a loyal following in the government sector.
Integrating a Third-Party Remote Display Protocol into your Hosted Desktop Initiative
Leostream is dedicated to developing its software to best suit the needs of customers, including those with complex workloads and visualization requirements. Many of the protocols that we integrate our software with are extremely specialized, and are used in the engineering, high-finance, and oil and gas industries where one misplaced pixel can cost the enterprise millions of dollars. In addition to supporting all of the protocols listed in the previous section, our company is continuously vetting new vendors for integrations.
Is One Display Protocol Enough?
A key advantage of the Leostream Platform is that you can leverage multiple protocols in a single environment. This means that you do not have to commit to a single vendor. This is important because you may not find a one-size-fits-all solution for your entire user-base — and that’s okay! Most of our large or more complex deployments are utilizing more than one display protocol. The goal is to find the best protocol for each scenario and workflow. Many of our customers are able to save money and provide a better end-user experience by having a mix of protocols. For example, instead of overpaying for users who work with text files, assign them a commodity protocol and save the advanced protocol for those who need high-end visualization.
Using Leostream, end users are able to connect to their desktops or applications via nearly any display protocol. They can also launch connections from any device, including thin clients, Zero clients, Chromebooks, web browsers, and mobile devices.
IT administrators within Leostream can configure how connections are made and using which display protocol through the use of desktop pools, plans, and policies. These features provide granular control and the flexibility to customize the desktop environment. For example, you can group users together with advanced visualization needs into a desktop pool and assign high-powered workstations with a graphic-heavy display protocol. You can then separate out task workers who only require a commodity protocol into another pool. When multiple display protocols are in place, you can define how the display protocols should be prioritized and made available to users connecting to workstations.
The success of your remote access or hosted desktop initiative is directly tied to choosing the right protocol. The best way to narrow down your choices is by understanding the workflows of your end-users and accommodating their requirements. While full-stack vendors include a built-in display protocol, this route isn’t always best. It can be more effective from a cost savings and productivity standpoint to integrate third-party display protocols into your design. This way you can customize the experience for your end users. It’s not uncommon for organizations to incorporate multiple display protocols into environments. Leostream makes it easy to leverage third-party protocols and to manage the users’ connections to remote workstations and hosted resources.
Test, Test, Test!
As with all technology, scope out your options and evaluate them in your environment. We offer a POC setup, which allows you to test you initial requirements. Keep in mind that Leostream allows you to employ more than one protocol. If you need a recommendation or an introduction to a particular vendor, please contact us for assistance.
The Importance of Remote Access for a Successful Digital Transformation
Integrating remote access capabilities is often a fundamental part of an organization’s digital transformation. Realizing the true benefits of your remote access program can hinge on a solution that is well established and flexible enough to support your initiatives long-term. In this whitepaper, we explore what you need to know about incorporating remote access into your digital transformation strategy.
Download the whitepaper to learn about:
- Key themes for integrating remote access with your digital transformation plan
- The importance of having a vendor neutral remote access solution when it comes to future proofing your design
- Creating a holistic approach when prioritizing the needs of your remote access solution
- Our top 5 considerations for planning remote access as part of a digital transformation initiative
Simplified IT Operations for Hybrid Environments with the Leostream Platform
Maintaining networks and servers, installing software, upgrading hardware, trouble-shooting, security — the life of a systems administrator is busy. Keeping an IT environment and the array of technology that comes with it in tip top shape can be a lot to juggle. When our customers initially contact us, they are often overwhelmed with the assortment of platforms, devices, and end-user requirements that need to be accounted for when hosting desktops. Today’s technical infrastructures are complex — from VDI, HCI, hosted applications, clouds, virtual workstations, physical workstations, thin clients, zero clients, etc. — there are many ways to mix and match technologies in a hybrid world. When it comes to hosting resources, no one has the time to separately manage and monitor each piece, so how do you bring everything together?
If you’re reading this guide, chances are you are somewhat familiar with the Leostream Platform, which provides crucial functionality for assigning desktops to users and managing their connections. Using Leostream, you can provide end users with consistent, reliable access to desktops from a wide range of client devices while hosting your resources across on-premises or public cloud platforms.
Throughout this whitepaper, we will explore some of the noteworthy features that are used by our customers to streamline administrative responsibilities and drive business initiatives involving hosted resources. We’ll specifically focus on the areas of the Leostream Platform that will assist you with maintaining, monitoring, and optimizing your hosted environment once you are fully deployed and up and running.
Solve your remote access and VDI problem with Leostream
One of our customers recently described Leostream as, “one of those products that does exactly what you need and it makes your life easy and better.” Here’s the thing, our software is designed by technical pros for technical pros with the goal of streamlining administrative functions in an impactful way.
We’re confident that within a short-time of using Leostream, you’ll quickly see the value it adds to simplifying your IT operations, especially if you have a complex or hybrid environment.
During the early stages of configuring Leostream, we work closely with you to architect the platform to best suite your organization’s unique needs. When designing a solution to support your VDI or hosted desktop infrastructure, we configure the platform to leverage the flexible plans and policies to support your preferred workflows. The entire Leostream Platform can be customized at a very granular level to ensure that once the transition is made from proof-of-concept into production you can start taking advantage of the benefits immediately.
In fact, many of our customers find the platform to be so incredibly seamless that it can run mostly on autopilot. Once deployed, some administrators like to “set it and forget it” with the least amount of intervention possible. Others enjoy tinkering with features and exploring new ways to optimize their environments after going live. Whether you’re someone who likes to set it and forget or someone who likes to tinker, we have plenty of options for you.
5 Ways to Simplify IT Operations with Leostream
So, once you have shifted out of your trial phase with Leostream and into production, what can you expect? The platform offers some specific and powerful features for maintaining, monitoring and optimizing your hosted desktop environment that we will cover in the following pages.
On a high level, once your organization is live with Leostream, here’s where you can plan to spend your time as an administrator interacting with the product:
- Maintaining desktop health – Basic maintenance tasks like rebooting desktops are par for the course, and Leostream gives you a centralized way to handle that
- Tracking cloud usage – If you have any type of public cloud component to your design, you’ll want to track usage and spending in order to control costs
- Monitoring user access – Keep tabs on who is using what, and for how long, and identify behaviors that look unusual that would indicate people are logging into something that they shouldn’t be
- Integrating with third-party monitoring/logging tools – We recommend integrating with Syslog servers or taking advantage of email alerts through Leostream to stay on top of any pressing issues
- Scaling -Once you are live, you may want to continue building out your design for more capacity, high availability, and redundancy for business continuity
Let’s dive deeper into each of these topics and the ways you can simplify your IT operations.
1. Centralized dashboard for maintaining desktop health
When you’re managing a wide-scale desktop deployment you will inevitably get calls from users who are having trouble connecting to their desktops. Without Leostream, you may find yourself logging into many different portals or tunneling into individual virtual machines to reboot connections. With Leostream, all of the desktops are centralized, giving you a 360 view of everything. You can see who’s assigned, their logged-in state, the desktop power state, and more. With everything centrally accessible, you can easily perform simple desktop maintenance tasks such as rebooting or connecting to the machine without going to individual portals for each platform.
2. Consolidated interface to monitor user access
Since Leostream consolidates everything into one place, you can monitor activity in an efficient manner. A key benefit of the platform is the “resources” pages, which lists everything connected to Leostream such as desktops, users, and end-point devices. With this comprehensive look at all of the resources, you can keep tabs on who is using what, and for how long, and identify behaviors that look unusual that would indicate people are logging into something that they should not be.
We provide a default list of information that can assist you in monitoring resources, such as the power status of desktops, assigned users, last connect time, and more. All of these fields can be rearranged so that information is displayed in a way that is most beneficial for you. You can run queries based on this information and quickly check to see when a user last logged in and if they are still connected. You can even forcefully log a user out if need be. All of these insights can be exported into a .CSV file and brought into Excel for further analysis. You should use these lists to your advantage and configure them in the way that makes the most sense for what you want to monitor and see.
3. Track cloud desktop usage with reports
Once your deployment is live, another big “to-do” is tracking cloud usage. If you have any type of public cloud component to your design, you’ll want to track usage and spending in order to control costs. You can do this by looking at how long users are logged into instances, the size of their instances, etc. By doing this, you can make estimates for spending and also keep an eye on outliers to spot ways to reduce expenditure. By running a report that pulls user assignments you can look at the duration of login activity on cloud machines to see the number of hours a user was connected. This is particularly helpful if you need to bill a client for the hours that a machine was running.
You can also track pool utilization for pools of cloud-hosted machines to estimate cloud costs. Any time a desktop pool is created, you can turn on tracking for the pool to monitor assignments, connections, and pool size information pertaining to how many desktops are available, running, stopped, suspended, and more. The most recent version of Leostream displays this information on a handy graphical dashboard for a high-level snapshot of usage.
4. Integrate with third party monitoring tools to receive alerts
We advise setting up alerts to observe potential issues with your desktop environment. For example, you likely want to be notified immediately if your users are receiving an error when they try to login to a desktop pool or if a center or Leostream Gateway is offline. Notifications can be sent to you for a variety of reasons and help you to stay on top of problems that may need your attention right away.
You have a few ways to receive alerts. The first is integrating with third party monitoring/logging tools. You can relay log messages over to the Syslog server and then your Syslog server can send out emails or notifications. In addition, you can also configure email notifications through SMTP that can be trigged through Leostream.
5. Scale to meet demand and provide high availability
A connection broker lies at the heart of your hosted desktop deployment, physical or virtual, and is the critical component for scaling your environment. The role of the connection broker is to assign resources to end-users and control the end-user experience. It helps to tie all the data centerpieces together, and controls who can access what and how.
Often, only a single connection broker is used during the proof of concept stage of building out Leostream. Of course, if you have a single connection broker, you have a single point of failure. To maximize availability, we advise building out clusters (groups of connection brokers). By adding clusters to your design, you can help support capacity and provide high availability and business continuity.
Once you have your broker set up on an internal database, you can switch it to an external database to scale. As you add new connection brokers to your cluster, you simply attach them to that external database and all of the brokers in that cluster act as a unit so that there is no downtime.
Delegate IT operations with with role-based administration
As we’ve outlined, Leostream can drastically streamline administrative functions. But what if you need to take it a step further and outsource tasks? We are all about enabling you to delegate to other IT professionals or your help desk right from within the platform. Leostream promotes role-based administration so that you can enlist and empower other staff members with the appropriate levels of control to assist with managing the system.
Leostream comes with two roles out of the box. The first role is for the main administrator, which offers full access to all of the functionality within the platform. The second role is for end-users and offers limited access to functionality. From here, you can create as many variations of these roles as you’d like and assign them out to your entire user base.
You can finely tune the levels of access, control and permissions for each role. For instance, say you want your desktop admins to be able to view and login to machines, but you don’t want them to be able to modify the system. Or perhaps you want each IT department head within your organization to have full control with limited access being provided to the IT help desk. All of these scenarios can be accomplished using roles within Leostream.
The list of what Leostream has to offer systems administrators and IT professionals could go on for days. The topics that have been presented here are just a few of the ways the platform is commonly used to simplify IT operations. Ultimately, if you have a complex or hybrid desktop environment, Leostream is the most comprehensive solution to maximize your efficiency. Please contact our sales team to learn how our product can “make your life easy and better”.
Secure Remote Access for Media and Entertainment
In this whitepaper, we discuss best practices for deploying a secure remote access solution in the media and entertainment industry
Download a copy to learn:
- Users receive at-desk performance just like they are sitting right in front of their in-house workstations
- Choose the best display protocol to satisfy the visualization requirements necessary for resource intensive software like Adobe, Maya, Avid, Final Cut Pro, Unity and more
- Dynamically assign machines to a remote workforce using desktop pools. Desktop pools allow for better utilization of resources and for expensive software licenses to be shared amongst users.
- Secure access to workstations using multi-factor authentication and Zero Trust workflows
- Streamline project audits by providing logs that track desktop connections and monitor resource assignments
- Scale hosted environments across a variety of virtualization platform and all of the major cloud options such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and OpenStack
- Quickly spin up desktops to support
Whitepaper: Key Considerations for Delivering Linux Hosted Desktops
In this whitepaper, we discuss key considerations for delivering Linux hosted desktops in an on-premises or cloud environment. You will learn –
- How to plan for a mixed environment
- Choosing your display protocol wisely
- Leveraging Leostream plans and policies for simplified management
Anyone interested in learning more about hosting Linux desktops, but in particular: CIOs, Sysadmins, IT staff, CTOs, and other IT decision makers.
Ready to get Started?
Ready to get started with a 30 day free trial of Leostream? Follow the link below!
eBook: VMware, Citrix, and Leostream – A Not-Quite Apples-to-Apples Comparison
In this eBook, take a closer look at how Leostream compares to legacy full-stack VDI vendors VMware and Citrix. We’ll go over –
- The major components of legacy, full-stack VDI
- How Leostream handles VDI a little differently
- When Leostream is a better fit for you than the legacy vendors (and when it’s not!)
Anyone interested in learning more about how Leostream compares to VMware and Citrix, but in particular: CIOs, Sysadmins, IT staff, CTOs, and other IT decision makers.
Ready to get Started?
Ready to get started with a 30 day free trial of Leostream? Follow the link below!
VDI in Healthcare: Managing a Compliant Desktop Infrastructure
In this whitepaper, we discuss best practices for managing and maintaining a compliant desktop infrastructure in healthcare. We discuss how Leostream provides key features of a successful healthcare desktop deployment such as –
• Centralized IT management
• Hands-free login for medical staff
• Improved desktop connection speeds
• Reduced IT costs and improved ROI