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The pandemic’s impact on remote work

In early 2020, the pandemic had a major impact on the percentage of remote workforce. Prior to early 2020, most organizations had 10-20% of their workforce operating remotely. The pandemic forced organizations to drive that to 90%. Many organizations tried to expand their VDI footprint, but with global shortages on servers and endpoints, this became extremely difficult for most companies. Many companies turned to Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions.  Even though DaaS is faster to spin up vs VDI, it still took many customers weeks to months to procure and deploy their DaaS environments. Sonet.io is a cloud native solution that is built to operate like a SaaS service. When a customer orders service through Sonet.io they can provision their instance in roughly an hour and have them working with sample applications and policies immediately. Since end users only need an HTML5 compatible browser to use it, there’s no devices to deploy and no end user software to deploy. You can be completely deployed and in production within a matter of hours.

Is the future of work a Windows Desktop OS?

There’s no doubt that Windows is still the dominant desktop operating system in the enterprise. However, an increasing number of the “applications” that end users use today are being delivered as Web/SaaS applications and are no longer Windows Client/Server applications.  While it will be many decades before the 30+m Windows apps are completely replaced by web equivalents there’s no doubt that trend is happening at a more rapid pace. If most end users do not use a large number of Windows thick client applications, then they’re really not bound to using Windows as the desktop OS container for these applications. End users are free to choose a MacOS device, a Chromebook or many other mobile device types and future device form factors. However, since Windows apps will be around for a long time, we still need to have ways to deliver thick clients (or Windows client/server style apps) for many years to come. This is why I believe that over time VDI will fall out of popularity and we will see increased use of RDSH (aka Terminal Services) as a way to supply the small handful of Windows apps that employees need. Sonet.io fits into this strategy perfectly as Sonet.io delivers thick client applications leveraging RDSH hosts in the public cloud to enable employees to receive their thick client Windows apps while enjoying the host operating system of choice. Sonet.io focuses on delivering apps instead of desktops, so that the right set of applications - whether they’re web/SaaS apps or thick-clients - can be accessed from any browser and the need for a specific OS falls away. If the user does need full desktop experience, Sonet.io delivers that through the browser without the requirement for the user to be on that specific OS in their end user device.

Is VDI / DaaS the right way to deliver web based applications?

Building on our prior point about more applications moving to web delivery, we need to examine if VDI or DaaS technologies are the right way to deliver these applications. Data leakage is a major concern for organizations and most VDI/DaaS solutions have very primitive controls to be able to protect from an end user downloading data from a web application and storing it somewhere else (like a personal cloud storage or forwarding via email). In VDI/DaaS solutions, you typically need to add additional software like a DLP agent and potentially a cloud web security solution or SASE solution to try to prevent the user from downloading/uploading corporate data elsewhere. This adds not only additional licensing or subscription cost, but also additional IT administrative overhead to configure, deploy, manage and secure these additional security tools. Sonet.io does web applications differently. They are hosted in a container in the cloud so it doesn’t run in the same space as any windows applications nor does it run on the endpoint computer. Any attempts to download or upload data to web applications can be blocked, but going beyond basic upload/download controls there’s a rich set of content inspection rules that can be applied to prevent end users from copying/pasting or uploading/downloading data containing email addresses, drivers licenses or social security numbers or many other forms of PII. In addition, any time that one of these violations of security policy occurs it’s logged in the Sonet.io admin console so admins can quickly see who is violating security policies.  Also, since Sonet.io enables admins to record user sessions you can also view exactly what the end user was doing with their web applications (or thick client apps) when they triggered a policy violation. This is an integration solution for data protection that VDI and DaaS simply cannot compare with.

We must AI everything!

There’s no doubt that the last 12 months or so has been an incredibly exciting time in the history of AI. While AI itself is not a new technology, the release of ChatGPT from OpenAI has ushered in an arms race of sorts in the field of generative AI that has provided some increased productivity for end users along with dire predictions about the end of the human race. End users are increasingly incorporating GenAI into their work day and leveraging it to generate draft content for emails and papers, perform research, write sample code and many other areas.  While GenAI tools have provided a boost to productivity, they’ve also exposed risks to corporations in the form of company confidential data that has ended up in the public AI tools and then is used for further training/tuning of the AI models. This presents a big risk to the organizations and some organizations have reverted to telling employees they cannot use AI tools because of this risk. However, with new AI tools popping up every single day, this is going to be a game of cat and mouse for organizations trying to control the use of AI tools. Instead, organizations should try to find creative ways to control what data is allowed to be shared with AI tools. Building on our prior discussion, the content inspection tools of Sonet.io can come in handy here as well. Let’s say you have a developer who is working in their development environment of choice in Sonet.io when they want to paste a code segment from their development tool into an AI tool to have it update the code. Since these present a risk of company confidential data leaking, the policy engine of Sonet.io can prevent any code being copied and pasted from the IDE and into an AI tool. Employees are still able to interact with ChatGPT freely to ask any questions, but Sonet.io prevents them from copying/pasting or uploading/downloading any company confidential information. You can freely use AI tools in a way that preserves the company IP.

If you missed the full conversation with Brian and I, you can watch the recording here:

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