Citrix exec explains why organizations use DaaS to secure hybrid workspaces: Q&A

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Few organizations are able to strike a balance between remote work and security.

Research shows that 67% of business-impacting cyberattacks target remote workers, resulting in loss of confidential data, disruption to day-to-day operations, ransomware payments, financial loss or theft, or intellectual property theft.

However, as remote and hybrid work creates new security risks, many organizations are looking to desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solutions to provide secure remote access to critical resources.

A key reason is that DaaS solutions enable users to connect to virtual applications and desktops without accessing local data on the device, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to steal sensitive information, while enabling security teams to implement zero-trust network access to applications .

VentureBeat recently spoke with Tim Minahan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix, to learn about the biggest challenges in securing hybrid workspaces and how DaaS solutions can help businesses address these security challenges.

Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

VentureBeat: What do you see as the biggest security challenge in securing hybrid workspaces?

Minahan: Employees used to come to the office every day to work with company-managed assets. Today, they may work at home, in the office, on the road, and anywhere in between using unsecured personal devices and networks. It opens up a whole new set of challenges that IT must address.

As employees move away from traditional office environments, they often prefer to use their own devices. And it’s hard to gauge how safe these devices are. Then you think about all the applications you need to get the job done.

We did some research and showed that 64% of employees use more communication and collaboration tools than they did before the pandemic. Over 90% of IT vulnerabilities are application-based.

VentureBeat: What role has the digital workspace played in improving security in remote workspaces?

Minahan: Think of the digital workspace as a safe bubble where everything happens. Whether people are in the office or working remotely, they are always connected to virtual desktops running from the data center—whether on-premises or in the cloud.

When they access documents or receive emails, no data goes to their devices. It all happens within the workspace. So if someone’s in a coffee shop and their laptop is stolen, there’s nothing on it.

VentureBeat: What types of tasks/workloads are digital workspaces best suited for?

Minahan: The right digital workspace can provide every employee with a unified, secure and streamlined work experience — across every type of work. But you can’t just cobble together a bunch of individual chat and collaboration technologies to create them. You need a platform that can do three things:

  • Unified work – Whether at home, on a plane, or in the office, employees can be more productive with consistent and reliable access to all the resources they need from any work channel, device or location.
  • job security – Contextual access and application security, ensuring applications and information remain secure – no matter where the work takes place.
  • Simplify work – Smart features such as machine learning, virtual assistants, and streamlined workflows personalize, guide, and automate the work experience so employees can work and perform at their best without noise.

For nearly a decade, eBay has been using Citrix virtual applications and desktop solutions to support the secure and reliable delivery of applications and information to more than 9,000 call center agents and third-party contractors worldwide.

They also use Citrix ADC to deliver these internal enterprise applications and optimize the performance and uptime of their public-facing online marketplace.

A few years ago, they asked us a question. Their traditional call center model was broken. Like other companies, they have established large call center hubs in metropolitan areas with large numbers of workers.

But they’re right down the street from their rivals — all fighting or the same talent. And the turnover is rampant. This is not a sustainable model.

They partnered with us to build a new model of remote call center agents — stay-at-home parents or caregivers in Utah, retirees in Florida, gig workers outside Indianapolis. We call it “family strength”.

To support this, they transitioned to Citrix DaaS and expanded to new networking and security capabilities—including Zero Trust Access Protection. They didn’t stop there.

With the onset of the pandemic, they expanded this secure remote access model to their wider employee base of 13,000 and transitioned to using our cloud-native web services to give them greater flexibility and control/

VentureBeat: How do you see the development of off-site security in the next 5 years or so?

Minahan: In a survey we conducted with Pulse, more than half of IT leaders (58.66%) said they have implemented or will implement a DaaS solution within the next 18 months. And (81.33%) plan to increase investment in the coming year.

When asked to rank the top three benefits they expect from taking action, respondents said:

  • Improve safety (41%)
  • Cost savings (39.67%)
  • Improve IT efficiency (13.33%)

With DaaS, IT can deploy secure desktops at the speed and scale required for hybrid work, and provide secure and managed access to virtual software applications, no matter where employees work or what devices they use.

They get the same centralization and security benefits that VDI provides, along with greater scalability and lower costs.

VentureBeat: What are Citrix’s plans to enhance its DaaS offering in the future?

Minahan: We’ve been working with major hyperscalers to give our customers the choice to run their workloads where it makes the most sense to them.

Whether they stay in the data center or move to the cloud, we can give them the flexibility to monitor and manage distributed, multi-cloud environments through a single control plane. This opens the door for DaaS to support new use cases, including project-based needs for developers, contractors, seasonal workers, and mergers and acquisitions.

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