What is DaaS?

In a nutshell, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) refers to a third-party company that serves businesses by providing a virtual desktop solution in the cloud. DaaS solution providers store and manage operating systems, software, applications, and data in cloud-based data centers around the world, allowing client companies to free up both on-premises equipment and IT resources to focus on other mission-critical priorities.

Clients pay a subscription fee, usually based on the number of users or hours accessed, allowing employees, contractors, and other stakeholders to access the data and tools securely from an end-point device. Fees may vary depending on the number of premium services and the amount of access desired by the client companies.

How It All Started

Although computer technology made great strides in the 1960s, computers were still hampered by the ability to complete only a single task at a time, requiring time-consuming batch processing. A few years later, IBM introduced the first mainframe that allowed multiple tasks and multiple users, laying the foundation for virtual environments. Just before the turn of the millennium, the technology that allowed running an operating system from a central location was born. Over the next two decades, virtual desktop infrastructure and DaaS solution providers have grown in popularity, providing thousands of global businesses with a centralized, efficient, and more secure computing option.

Recent Developments

The majority of the developments in DaaS have occurred after the passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2004, which established strict management responsibilities regarding data security issues fueled by significant breaches at the time. Centralizing operating systems, software, applications, and data made sensitive tools and information less likely to be compromised and provided redundancy to minimize the chances of total data loss.

Today, a large number of DaaS providers offer services to thousands of client companies, jockeying for market positions by improving the user interface, offering more competitive pricing, and adding in-demand features such as disaster recovery, bring-your-own-device capabilities, and advanced backup or storage options.

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Benefits of Daas

Small- or medium-sized businesses that have limited IT infrastructure and resources may find DaaS a fast, simple, and affordable way to access virtual desktop expertise. Subscription-based pricing is predictable, and scaling the number of users to what the organization currently needs can be advantageous. This is especially true for companies that have peak or seasonal employee needs; adding or removing users from a DaaS system is relatively easy and fast.

Since providing virtual desktops is their core business, DaaS solution providers are invested in staying on top of current development trends, minimizing latency, and fine-tuning performance and connection issues. Client companies benefit from these advances without having to invest in and manage them internally.

Most DaaS service providers will also offer a tiered benefits package, allowing customers to select and pay for only the features that are most important to them. This may include backup, storage, security, and service or support packages.

In addition, systems can frequently be customized to deliver even more specific use-case benefits. However, this often requires internal IT resources to create and manage these customizations.

Beyond Infrastructure

For client companies that require use-case-specific customizations, engaging a DaaS solution provider may only meet some of their needs. Organizations interested in virtual desktop solutions for an academic or professional computer lab, help desk, zero trust space, or remote work environment now have a better, easier, turnkey solution.

Based on cutting-edge DaaS technology, Apporto has fine-tuned its solution to take the complexity out of implementation for these specific use cases. For instance, hyperstreaming capabilities are built into Apporto’s solution, allowing premium audio and video transfer. Organizations such as colleges that must operate on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems simultaneously no longer have to worry about managing all these operating systems as those customizations are built into the Apporto solution. Things like desktop variations and managed support come pre-packaged, reducing the amount of work required by your IT staff.

A trusted partner for higher education institutions and enterprises since 2014, Apporto works with customers to understand their unique needs in order to reduce demands on IT departments, maximize productivity, and boost security architectures. Contact us today to learn how our turnkey DaaS solutions fuel performance and protection at an unbeatable price.

What is a Virtual Cybersecurity Lab?

Virtual Cyber Security Lab

As cybercrime becomes more advanced and widespread, organizations must constantly defend themselves against threats. As a result, cybersecurity training is in high demand to protect platforms against potential breaches.

Today, many colleges, universities, trade schools, independent training organizations, and corporations themselves, are investing in cybersecurity training. Cybersecurity labs are an important component of any such training program, designed to give students the skills they need to combat the most sophisticated cyber criminals.

Though the need for training is unquestioned, many institutions find it difficult to determine how best to implement this hands-on portion of the training. Traditional cybersecurity labs, which are made up of individual desktops in one physical space, pose many challenges. Teacher and student schedules must be aligned, work must be done when desktops are available, they’re expensive to implement from scratch, and they consume a considerable amount of time and resources to keep them up and running as well as up to date.

A more practical and cost-effective alternative to a physical cybersecurity lab is a virtual one. It provides a way for university, college, or trade school students as well as IT professionals looking to hone their skills, access to high-quality training from any location.

 

What are virtual cybersecurity labs?

Virtual cybersecurity labs are based in the cloud with all operating systems, servers, software, applications, and simulation data centrally maintained. Students access these labs by logging in from any device with an internet connection. End-users do not need to house or maintain any of the programs or software on their own machines; instead, they simply login to the virtual environment via their browser.

With a scenario-based approach, cloud-based virtual cybersecurity labs provide the best training environment for teaching network security. College, university, or trade school students encounter and work through real-life scenarios in cyber labs that reinforce the theories and other content learned in the classroom. IT professionals have the opportunity to continue their education by practicing these skills within their own companies, helping to advance their careers to the next level.

 

Virtual Computer Lab ROI Calculator

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ROI, Return on investment, Business and financial concept.

What are the benefits of cybersecurity labs?

Virtual cybersecurity labs have grown in popularity, especially during the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Furthermore, the tremendous demand for trained cybersecurity professionals has put pressure on educators to up their training offerings. Virtual cybersecurity labs can deliver superior cybersecurity education at a lower cost.

With their increasing popularity, cyber labs provide numerous benefits, whether they are in a college or corporate setting, including:

Improved Safety

Virtual cybersecurity labs provide an increased level of safety for students. They can practice ethical hacking on a simulated network without posing any risk to an actual environment. Students also gain experience with warding cyber criminals off without the danger and repercussions of actual hackers.

Updated Technology

With technology advancing at an incredible rate, universities that still utilize traditional cyber labs may struggle to keep up. Instructors are often forced to either settle for older technology or repeatedly update programs and hardware and cover the expenses that come with them.

A virtual cybersecurity lab allows students to take advantage of upgraded technology without the cost of hardware. Virtual labs are incredibly versatile – with few or no additional costs, they can expand to accommodate additional students or employees. As a result, they’re a great choice for organizations in need of a scalable solution.

System Access Anywhere

Virtual cybersecurity labs are accessed through a web browser on any computer or device. Students no longer need to crowd into a computer lab room full of PCs on certain days and times. Instead, students can study whenever and wherever they work best, whether that’s a dorm room, empty classroom, or common area. Students don’t need high-end hardware to access the system. Since the cyber lab is run primarily through a browser, all that is necessary is a connection to the Internet.

IT professionals can benefit as well, working on their cyber lab scenarios from home, in the office, or while traveling on other business.

Customized Content

Whether a college or university needs a range of cybersecurity courses or a corporation requires different courses for new and experienced IT professionals, virtual cybersecurity labs can be tailored to meet any educational need. In fact, many providers offer ready-to-go courses for users to immediately dive into, or will work with customers to custom build materials.

Rapid or Real-Time Feedback

Unlike physical labs, instructors in virtual cybersecurity labs can provide feedback in a much shorter time frame. Like their students, they’re able to securely access coursework from any device, giving them much more freedom as to when and where they can review assignments or answer questions.

Finally, teachers can provide feedback beyond simple assessment grades – virtual cybersecurity labs provide opportunities for more extensive feedback on many different types of assignments. Instructors can offer help at various points, as well as track analytics like user participation.

Within a corporate setting, IT managers can evaluate how their teams are performing, where strengths and weaknesses lie, and where to add additional training.

Hands-On Experiences

Since many labs use simulations of real programs, they put students in a real-life environment, giving them necessary exposure to simulated dangers. Students can understand what cybersecurity looks and feels like without the safety concerns of actual cyber insecurities.

 

Conclusion

Keeping up with cybersecurity advancements is essential for organizations. Virtual cybersecurity labs are the most affordable and practical option to provide the education students are looking for within higher education, and corporations can utilize cyber labs within their professional development and training programs.

A trusted partner for higher education institutions and enterprises since 2014, Apporto works with customers to understand their unique needs in order to reduce demands on IT departments, maximize productivity, and boost security architectures. Contact us today to learn more about our virtual cybersecurity labs and how we empower students through access to immersive learning experiences that prepare them for today’s and tomorrow’s cybersecurity challenges.

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What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a relatively new security framework that ensures everyone both inside and outside of an organization is authorized before any interaction with network applications or data occurs. Coined by John Kindervag, Forrester Research analyst, Zero Trust reminds businesses to “trust no one and always verify.”

 

The Journey to Zero Trust

At the turn of the millennium, cybersecurity was all about securing software, data, and applications within a corporate firewall. The assumption was that everything that happened inside an organization was safe, and as long as threats remained outside the firewall, all was well.

As more companies began moving toward remote employees, cloud infrastructure, and a hybrid workforce, those physical boundaries vanished, leaving company networks more vulnerable to cybercriminals. At the same time, bad actors have refined their skills, creating sophisticated schemes to take advantage of common and not-so-common security vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity as an industry has exploded. As a result, vendors have introduced new solutions and there is a high demand for trained experts in the field. Zero Trust has become the new mantra for many and industry associations have stepped up to define standards and expected protocols.

 

NIST 800-207 Standards

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) 800-207 is a series of cybersecurity measures and guidelines highlighting the core components of Zero Trust principles. The NIST 800-207 standards are generally accepted as a comprehensive, vendor-neutral framework for any organization. It adapts principles from other industry associations and ensures compatibility and protection for a cloud-based, hybrid workforce. Because the federal government has mandated adherence to NIST 800-207, these standards have been heavily scrutinized by a wide range of government agencies as well as commercial businesses.

NIST 800-207 guidelines require:

  1. Continuous verification. Organizations must always verify access all the time and for all resources.
  2. Blast radius limitations. If a breach does occur, organizations should minimize its impact.
  3. Context collection and response. Systems should automatically incorporate behavioral data and collect context from the tech stack including identity, endpoint, and workload information, before responding.

 

Zero Trust Virtual Desktop White Paper

In this white paper, you will learn how Apporto helps companies achieve highly secure remote workplaces

Implementing Zero Trust

In order for organizations to successfully implement the Zero Trust concept, they must address two key components: infrastructure technology and employee mindset. Both are equally important in helping businesses secure today’s cloud-based, work-from-anywhere environments.

Technology Requirements

Advanced technologies are needed to build a Zero Trust framework and typically include multi-factor authentication (MFA) and identity protection for each and every employee, contractor, or user of a system. Next-generation endpoint security must check every request for access to and interaction with software, data, or applications, ensuring that privileges are required at that moment.

Robust cloud workload technology must verify the identity of a user and be able to determine appropriate access. Data must be encrypted for secure communications through email or other tools, and all endpoint devices must be free of threats before connecting to any applications or operating systems. This entire system then needs to be maintained and updated on a continuous basis as users, privileges, and threats are always changing.

With four-fifths of all cyberattacks related to credential vulnerabilities or network misuse, companies must have sophisticated protection in these areas. Comprehensive analytics should include artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that can process trillions of bits of data to identify vulnerabilities and network threats.

People Requirements

The human element of Zero Trust is often overlooked, yet it is just as important, or perhaps even more critical, to a successful implementation of the Zero Trust methodology.

Every single employee, contractor, or other user who interacts with your system must understand and adhere to Zero Trust policies. By shifting the mindset of the individuals working on a system, a company can build another critical layer of protection–adding far-reaching human intelligence and diligence to the security infrastructure.

Ongoing training for employees and other users can educate them on common threats to avoid, such as phishing attempts through email messages, and also arm them with skills to identify and report suspicious activity. Cybercriminals often rely on uninformed individuals to provide access to a system through links and downloads; in fact, more than 80 percent of breaches begin with a human error.

Instilling a Zero Trust mindset by explaining these vulnerabilities and ongoing training about the practices and protocols that will protect not only the individual devices but also the organization as a whole can go a long way to tightening cybersecurity. Adding cyber hygiene metrics to individual performance reviews can also highlight its importance.

Benefits of Zero Trust

Even taking basic steps can improve a company’s security posture; the important thing is to begin the journey. Once Zero Trust architecture has been fully implemented, you can expect the following benefits for your organization:

Stronger Security Posture: Since Zero Trust is incredibly detail-focused, it forces organizations to tighten their security infrastructure and boost visibility into what is going on in real-time. Through organizing and categorizing IT assets, companies gain a better understanding of their environments and access activity, and can better protect assets more completely.

Faster Threat Identification and Isolation: Once additional technology, tools, and training have been implemented, organizations will be more easily able to identify suspicious activity and isolate those threats quickly. Employees trained in understanding vulnerabilities and threats may help decrease the chances that a bad actor can move within a network easily or undetected. Users will also be less likely to be the weak link that allows cybercriminals to use their ignorance to initiate ransomware or other breaches.

Zero Trust Virtual Desktops by Apporto

Built specifically to meet the modern security challenges of today’s remote work environment, Apporto’s next-generation virtual desktops are designed with Zero Trust as a core architectural principle.

Since Apporto is always delivered in the browser, the security posture of the endpoint device is not a concern. All communications between the end-user and the servers use HTML events and messages and data always resides in the cloud where it is least vulnerable. Users can perform all their critical tasks, including sound video and conferencing, in the virtual environment; ensuring that all traffic goes through the corporate security stack.

The potential for attack by bad actors is further reduced by Apporto’s implementation of a central Zero Trust tenet: Least Privilege Access. Users are automatically provided access to only the apps, data and network resources they need based on group affiliation. This prevents unauthorized access and lateral movement.

Ready to take your security posture to the next level with Apporto’s Zero Trust virtual desktops? Contact us today to see our solution in action.

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Are Turbulent Times Ahead for VMware Customers?

Change Ahead Sign

“With VMware, the big question is whether Broadcom will continue with the same trend of squeezing clients for licensing dollars at a time of rising global inflation?”

In one of the largest tech deals in history, semiconductor giant Broadcom recently inked a deal to acquire cloud software company VMware. The surprise acquisition has left industry analysts and VMware customers concerned over the negative impact that this could have on costs, innovation, and support.

Based on Broadcom’s track record with other acquisitions, namely CA and Symantec, in which both companies emerged with lower profiles, slower innovation, and higher prices, Analysts and industry watchers are concerned that VMware could suffer the same fate.

According to Forrester analysts, “Following these purchases, CA and Symantec customers saw massive price hikes, worsening support, and stalled development. Symantec redirected its focus to its biggest resellers and customers. The company largely abandoned its customer base of 100,000 to prioritize its top 2,000. With VMware, the big question is whether Broadcom can leverage a massive enterprise software portfolio and customer base to build a competent modern solution that extends from mainframe to edge. Or does it continue with the same trend of squeezing clients for licensing dollars at a time of rising global inflation?” [1]

Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy shares Forrester’s analyst’s concerns over VMware customers’ potential future challenges. “Broadcom has a reputation for acquiring a company, increasing prices, lowering research investment and OPEX spending to 1% of revenue, [and] causing consternation amongst its customers. Switching costs are high and the time to switch is long, essentially locking in customers.” [2]

Bola Rotibi, research director for CCS Insight’s Software Development practice, adds that acquiring VMware won’t immediately turn Broadcom into a software company. “This has significant integration risk and Broadcom must prove that it can integrate a silicon, software, and services story.” [3]

In response to the news of the acquisition, insiders have also shared alarming insights. Brian Madden, a former VMware technologist who voluntarily left the IT industry in early 2022, warns readers in a recent opinion piece that VMware as we know it will no longer exist. “Broadcom will shred VMware. Many of the products will remain, but the company we know today is toast. The VMware leadership is aware of this. While publicly they toe the party line, you can see it in little ways, like how the announcement on vmware.com is posted. The announcement itself isn’t on VMware paper, and rather than the typical branded corporate rah rah, it’s just an unbranded PDF. It screams “We’re sorry. This is not our fault![4]

Furthermore, Broadcom partners have alleged that the company uses price hikes to discourage customers it does not want[5]. Although at first glance this may seem to be a diatribe from a handful of disenchanted partners, Broadcom’s go-to-market strategy clearly shows that it plans to ignore most VMware customers and focus solely on 600 strategic accounts. The money saved from cutting development, sales, and marketing to lower-earning accounts will be invested in researching ways to better serve the top 600.

“Broadcom’s stated strategy is very simple: focus on 600 customers who will struggle to change suppliers, reap vastly lower sales and marketing costs by focusing on that small pool, and trim R&D by not thinking about the needs of other customers – who can be let go, if necessary, without much harm to the bottom line.”

– Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor, The Register

In a November 2021 Investor Day, Broadcom President, Tom Krause, presented the below graphic and said, “We are totally focused on the priorities of these 600 strategic accounts.” [6] Krause told investors that Broadcom will target these 600 customers – the top three tiers of the pyramid – because they are “Often in highly regulated industries, therefore risk-averse, and unlikely to change suppliers.” [7]

Targeted GTM Model

Krause went on to say that these top-tier targets have “A lot of heterogeneity and complexity” in their IT departments. Which to Krause indicates that IT budgets are high and increasing quickly. Such organizations do use public clouds, he said, but can’t go all-in on cloud and therefore operate hybrid clouds. Krause predicted they will do so “For a long time to come.” [8]

To further keep customers ensnared in the VMware web, Broadcom plans to stop selling perpetual licenses and sell more, and longer, subscriptions. Doing so creates what he called “quality revenue” that’s better than the revenue from maintenance deals. [9]

Chairman of the VMware board, Michael Dell, has tried to allay fears by positioning the acquisition as a vehicle for better customer service. Like Krause, though, he has specific customers in mind. In a recent statement regarding the acquisition, Dell said, “Together with Broadcom, VMware will be even better positioned to deliver valuable, innovative solutions to even more of the world’s largest enterprises.[10]

Notice how the focus is on the world’s largest enterprises? Customers that generate the most annual recurring revenue. What does this mean for VMware’s thousands of small business and higher ed customers? Are they no longer worthy of receiving innovations in the services they rely on for daily operations or the attention they need when an issue arises?

How Apporto Can Help

Since its founding in 2014, Apporto has been driven to deliver next-generation technology that can be enjoyed anywhere by everyone. Employee-owned Apporto puts customers, not shareholders, first. At Apporto, our tight-knit team of collaborators treats every customer as a strategic partner. This customer-first approach is one of the reasons why we have a 98% customer retention rate.

We pride ourselves on bringing equity and inclusion to all by enabling users to virtually access desktops and applications anywhere, at any time, on any device. Enjoyed by 200+ customers and 1.9 million users, we have been a trusted solution provider for higher education institutions and enterprises for almost a decade.

Explore our interactive demo today to see how you too can optimize efficiencies and maximize savings, all at 50-70% less than the cost of traditional VDI solutions. If you like what you see, (and we know you will), you can take advantage of a limited-time offer for a complimentary migration from VMware to Apporto’s powerful solutions and dependable service. Don’t leave your digital foundation in limbo, contact us today.

Migration Cost: $0.00

Considering a move from VMware? Now is the best time to partner with Apporto. For a limited time only, we’re waiving migration costs.

 

References

[1] Woo, T., Chhabra, N., Hewitt, A., Sustar, L., Ellis, B., Casanova, C., Betz, C., McKeon-White, W., Mellen, A., Harrington, P., Higgins, S., Nelson, L., O/Donnell, G., and Martorelli, B. (2022, May 26). VMware Customers: Get Ready For Broadcom Disruption. Forrester. https://www.forrester.com/blogs/vmware-customers-get-ready-for-broadcom-disruption/

[2] and [3] Goovaerts, D. (2022, May 26). Broadcom’s $61B deal to acquire VMware raises questions for customers. Fierce Telecom. https://www.fiercetelecom.com/cloud/broadcoms-61b-deal-acquire-vmware-raises-questions-customers

[4] Madden, B. (2022, May 26). Brian Madden’s brutal and unfiltered thoughts on the Broadcom / VMware deal. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brian-maddens-brutal-unfiltered-thoughts-broadcom-vmware-brian-madden/

[5] Sharwood, S. (2022, May 31). VMware customers have watched Broadcom’s acquisitions and don’t like what they see. The Register. https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/31/vmware_broadcom_acquisition_customer_reaction/

[6]-[9] Sharwood, S. (2022, May 30). Broadcom’s stated strategy ignores most VMware customers. The Register. https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/30/broadcom_strategy_vmware_customer_impact/

[10] Bernard, A. (2022, May 27). Broadcom, VMware deal good for investors but customers may suffer. TechRepublic. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/broadcom-vmware-deal-good-for-investors-but-customers-may-suffer/

Virtual Computer Labs Are Here to Stay: Why This is Good News for Students

Student Using Virtual Computer Lab

During the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education institutions underwent significant technical transformation driven by the need to quickly support remote learning. To assist their students with the sudden pivot to remote learning, many colleges and universities transitioned from physical to cloud-based computer labs.

With the world now starting to emerge from COVID-19 and students and faculty returning to campus, the role of virtual computer labs and their impact on student success is top of mind for many institutions. In this blog, we will examine the prominent role virtual computer labs play in the continued evolution of higher education and the positive impact the popular platform has had on students.

What are Virtual Computer Labs?

With virtual computer labs, “VCL”, instead of a student visiting a physical computer lab, a student can use any device connected to the internet to access a virtual version of that lab and leverage its respective software and resources. The VCL is accessed via a web browser interface and is platform-independent. All operating systems, servers, software, and applications are centrally maintained in the cloud, so end-users do not need to house or maintain any of the programs or software on their own machines; instead, they simply log in to the cloud-based system to access everything they would use when visiting the brick-and-mortar campus computer lab.

Computer Labs: Then and Now

Since the 1990’s, computer labs have been critical hubs for connecting students to new technologies. Technologies that a regular student may not be able to afford. Campus computer labs provided free and easy access to computers, scanners, printers, and the internet, for completing homework and projects.

As computers evolved and became more affordable over the years, the need for students to visit on-campus computer labs has decreased. The rise of mobile devices and their comparable computing power have further diminished the role of on-prem computer labs in students’ lives. As a result, the computer lab has given way to institutions embracing a BYOD (bring your own device) model.

Student device ownership in higher ed is fast approaching 100% which has had far-reaching implications for classroom practices and institutional policies. A 2020 EDUCAUSE Student Technology Report found that the average number of devices connecting to campus Wi-Fi in a given day is two per student, with an overwhelming majority of students reporting connecting two or more devices daily[1]. Three-quarters of students who connect to campus Wi-Fi do so with both a smartphone and a laptop, the digital devices of choice for higher education students[2]. Colleges and universities have adapted to this era of personal computer ownership and unparalleled connectivity by increasing the number of online courses available and expanding online degree programs.

As faculty and students across the country were instructed to stay home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud-based learning platforms became a critical component of ensuring higher ed institutions could continue to deliver quality education to their communities. As a result, 84% of America’s undergraduates experienced some or all of their classes moving to online-only instruction due to the pandemic[3].

Colleges and universities had to innovate to educate. One way in which they did this was by providing students with an accessible and productive learning experience through cloud-based computer labs that closely mirrored the physical computer labs they could no longer visit.

This digital transformation has improved institutional operations on a massive scale, benefiting staff and students alike; both of which have expressed interest in continuing some form of virtual learning in the future. In a 2021 EDUCAUSE QuickPoll of university administrators, IT departments, and other staff, nearly 70 percent of respondents say they would like a remote option post-pandemic.  This strongly echoes student sentiment regarding their future learning preferences. In a 2021 Digital Learning Pulse survey, 73 percent of students polled “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that they would like to take some fully online courses in the future. A slightly smaller number of students, 68 percent, indicated they would be interested in taking courses offering a combination of in-person and online instruction[4].

Virtual Computer Labs: 2-year Impact Assessment Conducted by IIT

The Office of Technology Services at The Illinois Institute of Technology has completed a two-year assessment of its transformation from physical infrastructure to Apporto’s virtual computer lab.​ Read their findings here.

Illinois Institute of Technology

What are the Benefits of Virtual Computer Labs for Students?

Virtual computer labs are instrumental in helping students learn, work with software programs, complete assignments, and interact with classmates and instructors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits students enjoy from this tech-forward teaching tool.

Flexibility and Productivity

Virtual computer labs allow students to quickly and easily access the educational resources they need on their terms. Students can engage in an active learning environment anytime, anywhere because they are no longer bound to a certain location or schedule. Gone are the days when a student would have to wake up on a Saturday morning and spend an hour driving to campus and finding a parking spot, only to have limited time to work on a clunky PC in a loud and crowded computer lab. Now, the computer lab is literally in students’ hands, eliminating the need to commute and enabling them to spend more time working on assignments when and where they work best, whether that’s a dorm room, coffee shop, or common area.

Equity and Inclusion

Virtual computer labs give students the same access to their institution’s latest technology and software as if they were in the physical computer lab. Students don’t need high-end hardware to access the most popular lab software and do not have to load it onto their personal devices. Since the virtual computer lab is run primarily through a browser, all that is necessary is a connection to the Internet.

According to a recently published assessment by the Illinois Institute of Technology, this assists in student success by equalizing the student software experience. Meaning someone with a $100 Acer Chromebook will have the same software experience as a $2,800 M1 MacBook Pro[5].

Collaborative Learning

Like their students, instructors are able to securely access the virtual computer lab from any device, giving them much more freedom as to when and where they can review assignments or answer questions. Students benefit from their teacher’s easy access to institutional infrastructure by receiving feedback and instruction in real-time or outside of traditional classroom hours. Virtual computer labs also provide opportunities for more extensive feedback on many different types of assignments. Instructors can offer help at various points, as well as track analytics like user participation.

Furthermore, because students can quickly and easily access all of the digital resources required to be successful in a class on their device of choice, they do not have to worry about their technical readiness and can simply focus on learning.

Conclusion

Higher education is undergoing a significant digital transformation that shows no signs of slowing down. To sustain academic excellence and keep schools financially viable, institutions must quickly adjust to students’ new expectations and use all available digital resources to improve the student journey.

Innovative education delivery like virtual computer labs enhance the learning process and help modernize instruction in today’s highly digitalized world. Take the next step to improving your students’ experience by contacting Apporto today.

Additional Resources You May Enjoy:

Case Study: Next Generation Computer Lab

Apporto Virtual Computer Lab ROI Calculator

Citations:

[1] and [2] Gierdowski, D., Christopher Brooks, D., and Galanek, J. (2020, October 21). EDUCAUSE 2020 Student Technology Report: Supporting the Whole Student. https://www.educause.edu/ecar/research-publications/student-technology-report-supporting-the-whole-student/2020/technology-use-and-environmental-preferences

[3] National Center for Education Statistics. (2021, June 16). 84% of All Undergraduates Experienced Some or All Their Classes Moved to Online-Only Instruction Due to the Pandemic. https://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/press_releases/06_16_2021.asp#:~:text=In%20the%20largest%20study%20to,only%20instruction%20during%20spring%202020.

[4] McKenzie, L. (2021, April 27). Students Want Online Learning Options Post-Pandemic. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/04/27/survey-reveals-positive-outlook-online-instruction-post-pandemic

 [5] Beidas, S. and McHugh, L. (2022, March 27) The COVID-19 Pandemic and Retooling Application Delivery: The Transformation from Physical to Cloud-Based Infrastructure. SIGUCCS ’22 Virtual Event, New York, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/3501292.3511580

About Apporto

Since 2014, Apporto has been delivering robust, turnkey virtual solutions that enable users to access desktops and applications anywhere, at any time, on any device. A trusted partner for higher education institutions and enterprises across the globe, Apporto works with customers to understand their unique needs in order to reduce demands on IT departments, maximize productivity, and boost security architectures. Contact us today to learn more or to request a demo.

DaaS Provider – How to choose the right one

choosing daas provider

Choosing the right DaaS provider can be tricky. While some mismatched relationships end in failure or even conflict, the best ones can magnify the strengths of both entities, resulting in a win-win, long-term arrangement. As remote work becomes commonplace, many businesses are seeking Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) partnerships to help them implement and maintain a virtual desktop environment. Understanding how to select the right partner can go a long way to achieving overall success.

 

What is DaaS?

DaaS encompasses the creation, implementation, and maintenance of a virtual desktop environment. For employees, customers, contractors, or other stakeholders using the system, the user interface can appear to look like a standard computer desktop with access to the same operating system, software, applications, and data.

However, traditional desktops store all those files, applications, and software on the actual hard drive of their computers. That means updates, backups, or installation of new applications must be done on that actual device. Sharing of data files needs to be done through an internet connection or sent electronically.

DaaS centralizes the operating system, applications, software, and files in the cloud, providing secure access through an internet connection to any user provisioned to access an individual business’s system. Whether employees are working from the office headquarters, from home, or on the road, they can easily access the tools and data they need to be productive through any internet-enabled device. The DaaS solution provider performs updates, backups, patches, or new installations only on cloud-based systems.

 

The Importance of Alignment

The first question a business should ask when looking at a DaaS solution provider is whether its vision aligns with the strategic objectives and goals of that company. Along the same lines, it’s important that the services offered by the DaaS partner can deliver the results that a business seeks in terms of size, scale, and growth.

For example, if a business is geographically bounded, the location of DaaS data centers may not be as critical. However, a company with remote employees located all over the world may want to select a DaaS service partner with several strategically located data centers to ensure quality performance and connectivity for all members of the remote team.

Organizations working in highly regulated environments will want to find a DaaS provider that can help them ensure they are complying with all applicable government regulations while providing needed access to their employees and stakeholders.

 

Understanding Pricing Models

In general, DaaS pricing models are based on contracting for a certain number of user seats or hours and then adding on extra features as needed. Businesses will need to make decisions about the following features:

  • Metered vs. Unlimited Access. While some employees may require an unlimited access plan, other occasional users may benefit from a consumption-based pricing model.
  • Persistent vs. Non-Persistent Desktops. Persistent desktops allow users to see the exact same interface with consistent settings and applications regardless of the device used. Non-persistent desktops provide only the basics, wiping out individual user settings at log off. 
  • Technical Support Level. Most DaaS service providers will offer a range of technical services. At one end of the spectrum, businesses may choose basic services with access to an online knowledge database. At the other end, around-the-clock, in-person, technical expertise may be available worldwide.
  • Security Add-Ons. While most DaaS providers offer an adequate level of security with encryption, authentication, firewall, and backup features, many will have additional security features available such as malware, antivirus, or multi-location storage and backup for added data security.

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Questions to Ask Prospective DaaS Providers

After narrowing down a list of DaaS candidates to the top two or three service providers, consider asking the following interview questions to further refine the selection.

What is the user experience like? Businesses want employees to have an excellent user experience, which means little to no latency and can be improved if data centers are geographically nearby. This also requires that DaaS partners operate high-performance servers, SSD storage, and excellent graphic packages.

Do you offer discounts and customized pricing? Many DaaS partners will reduce overall costs if companies agree to longer-term contracts. Be sure there’s an ability to tailor the features and associated costs to specific business needs.

What’s your average problem resolution time? Getting a handle on both technical and customer service support levels will be important in not only selecting a provider but setting employee expectations for assistance.

What security features are included? Reputable DaaS service providers will offer encryption, firewalls, backups, and authentication features, but companies may want to inquire about specific methods, processes, and technologies used to ensure access and data are secure.

Do you have an uptime guarantee? Uptime is the period when virtual desktops are available, which should be, essentially, all the time. Find out how they can make this assurance and what happens if they fail to meet their obligations.

How do you manage business continuity and disaster planning? Many DaaS providers will offer redundancy in data storage so that if a natural disaster or a cybercrime strikes in one location, business recovery is still rapidly possible. In addition, a detailed risk analysis should be available so companies can understand the factors that can affect both the accessibility and performance of the virtual desktop environment.

Describe your staff experience. Any service provider is only as good as its people. Meet those who will actually be handling the day-to-day implementation and maintenance. Understand what level of expertise in cloud computing and desktop visualization exists.

What are your backup protocols? Backup tools and processes may be one of the most important factors in selecting a DaaS provider. Find out what protocols exist for backing up data, including the length of time data is saved as well as whether redundancy is built into the system.

Apporto has been providing DaaS solutions for satisfied customers since 2014. Our team is made up of dedicated experts that have years of experience helping businesses just like yours take advantage of DaaS technology. We’d love to learn more about your organization. Contact us for a consultation today.