Apr 30 2020

The Value of Desktop as a Service for Federal Agencies

DaaS is faster to deploy than VDI and gives agencies greater flexibility.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused federal agencies to swiftly adopt telework policies, giving rise to the need for flexible work solutions. Guided by an Office of Management and Budget memo that agencies should be operating with “maximum telework” flexibilities, many agencies have had to adopt technologies like Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Traditionally, federal agencies have depended on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which can take months to implement and require back-end infrastructure to manage workloads, resulting in high costs and human capital.

DaaS has become a sought-after alternative because of its fast implementation, ability to function on-premises, on the cloud or both, depending on agency need. Supporting the need for both secure desktop management and user flexibility, agencies looking to implement remote work should consider the following key benefits DaaS will bring to their organizations.

READ MORE: Find out how to effectively plan for a hybrid cloud environment. 

How the DaaS Model Works for Agencies

During periods of disaster, agencies must have remote access to the full set of resources available on their internal networks. While this shift can often be a cumbersome, time-consuming process, cloud-hosted DaaS solutions allow organizations to implement this technology in a matter of days and add additional desktops as needed. 

This model reduces complications from any potential lack of infrastructure in place and allows for the added flexibility of only paying for what each agency needs.

This flexibility is especially important, as many agencies have employees that span across geographical locations. Certain DaaS offerings enable users to move between multiple clouds so that, from one administrative interface, workloads can be deployed to both public and private clouds without requiring expertise in each cloud platform individually

DaaS Gives Access to the Right Tools and Resources

To cope with the teleworking requirements in place due to COVID-19, the Defense Department launched its Commercial Virtual Remote Environment’s collaboration tool. While beneficial, traditional communications platforms are a short-term solution and do not provide the full set of services employees would have in their office environment, limiting their job function during this critical time. 

When evaluating long-term telework solutions, federal agencies must also consider how to manage contractor, consultant and customer collaboration. Often, these partners only require access to specific network capabilities, and should not be exposed to the entire organization’s network and intellectual property. 

With this in mind, DaaS allows organizations to quickly respond to the needs of a project that involves a ramp-up and a ramp-down of workers. Through a DaaS solution, the data and requirements each end user needs to complete a project can be accessed through the cloud. Once the project is completed, the data can be collected and removed from the cloud server, minimizing the IT costs. 

Further, this DaaS capability is particularly helpful in cases of cross-agency partnerships. This includes one-on-one joint agency efforts, as well as multi-office efforts that are necessary to address major events like the COVID-19 outbreak. 

READ MORE: Find out how telework tools help agencies compete for and keep talented employees.

Telework Brings Compliance and Security Concerns

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, many federal agencies had limited experience with remote work. According to the 2019 “State and Local Government Workforce” survey, only 19 percent of agencies had telework policies. The mandated closures of offices and countrywide stay-at-home orders have quickly altered this statistic, and federal agencies need to rely on remote work options today more than ever. 

This increase in telework has inherent cyber risks for organizations, and with many agencies adopting public cloud infrastructure to support the need for workload flexibility, secure network access remains a top concern. Any cloud security breach could lead to financial loss or issues compromising national security.

Adopting a DaaS solution can help mitigate security breaches by erasing any corrupt changes that occurred during a user session and starting the user from a clean, “known good” state. DaaS’ capability to use nonpersistent virtual machines ensures that any kind of attacks against the browser stay within the VDI session and never make it back into the core enterprise. 

As security breaches continue to evolve, organizations that are responsible for keeping information secure, such as tax databases, federal investigation units and education systems, must adopt technology that constantly monitors networks to stop breaches before they can occur.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Research shows Cloud Smart is accelerating cloud adoption.

The Rise of DaaS for Feds

The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered an urgent need for the federal government to develop bolstered telework policies. With DaaS solutions, employees can access their applications and data from any device and any location, without compromising performance or security. In the event a device fails or is lost, security breaches are less of a concern because data doesn’t need to reside on the device. DaaS can help organizations meet the unique needs of every end user. 

With COVID-19 drastically altering the way agencies will operate in the long term, organizations must identify and adopt the technologies and cultural practices that will allow them to continue operating as close to usual as possible, and DaaS solutions are a cost-effective, efficient tool to help them achieve this.

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