The other day, I was driving across the country and it was time to go to a work meeting. My wife was also at the wheel. My laptop was at my side, so I used the hotspot to connect to the chat session with my team the same way as if I were in the office. As we drove down the highway, I didn’t miss any beat.
It is that seamless experience Dell Technologies’ IT Team Member Experience organization (TMX) is working to provide for all 130,000 of our team members around the globe–secure access to any resources on any trusted device, anywhere, at any time.
TMX has been providing IT services via remote access to its users for many years. This effort was made even more crucial when we moved our employees from all over the globe to work productively from home within a matter weeks in early 2020..
From modernizing our network to improve access to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, to deploying unified endpoint management and edge security for all our devices, by leveraging our strong collaboration with VMware, we’re achieving our work-from-anywhere goals.
Adapting to shifting network challenges
Inside Dell, we’ve been using apps like Zoom, Microsoft 365 and Teams to support employee productivity for several years. The number of team members using SaaS apps (and the internet generally) has increased dramatically. This has led to increased costs and strained bandwidth for our Wide Area Network (WAN).
As a result, we started to roll out a Software defined WAN (SDWAN) in 2019. This control layer is in the cloud and virtualizes and centralizes how the network manages traffic. The mix of internet-based transport and MPLS traffic can be used depending on the location and needs. We used VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud–a solution that provides a WAN software overlay–to modernize our network.
This allowed team members to access SaaS applications remotely without requiring a virtual private network.
As our workforce began to work from home, and members of the team continued to use SaaS with no VPN connection, we were faced with a new problem. We couldn’t manage or secure employees’ devices using our traditional security tools and management tools because they weren’t at the office.
To solve this problem we had to move users to a modern cloud security platform that would allow for endpoint management and security. We chose VMware Carbon Black Endpoint and VMware Workspace ONE.
Carbon Black cloud-native endpoint security program is designed to detect malicious behavior, and prevent malicious files attacking organizations.
Carbon Black is a cloud-based security solution. This means that Carbon Black can see users and provide protection as soon as they turn on their laptops. No VPN required. Carbon Black has been fully deployed across our remote ecosystem to provide virus protection at the edge. This is without relying on our network.
Secure app delivery to any device
We are also in the process of deploying VMware Workspace ONE, an intelligence-driven digital workspace platform that helps us more securely deliver and manage any app on any device. Workspace ONE offers software patching and security updates. My team is able to manage devices, patch and secure environments without the need of a VPN connection.
Workspace One can provide seamless, uniform access from any location to all of our applications using a single interface. Let’s suppose you use a particular SaaS app every day. Access is available by going to the Workspace ONE catalog and clicking on the app. The same catalog can be viewed on your mobile device, on your Windows or Linux systems, as well as on the VDI. The same user experience is available.
An application can be downloaded from the catalog or browser.
Workspace ONE allows users seamless access to Dell’s network resources without the need for multi-step authentication. It allows users to connect seamlessly to inside resources without the need for passwords or codes.
Workspace ONE will automatically open a tunnel to allow you access inside Dell because your device is secured and managed. This means that you can connect to Dell resources from anywhere, whether you’re at work or on the move.
We have currently deployed Workforce ONE to about 30% of our workforce and expect to complete the roll out by the end of January.
Going forward, as Dell Technologies looks to have team members return to the office, Dell TMX will be working to create dashboards and gather telemetry about how we are serving our workforce across all devices wherever they are used. We are also trying to address some of the new workforce issues that have emerged as we have worked remotely for so many months.
One is meeting fatigue. Home-based workers are now able to participate in an endless stream of online meetings, which can be very stressful for them. We are exploring new technology to improve the connection between participants as meetings return to the conference rooms. Enhancing teleconferencing features can make both in-person and remote participants visible. Virtual reality is one of the technologies that we are currently exploring. Perhaps avatars of participants could be virtually present in the same room, collaborating and sharing tools like whiteboards and other virtual tools.
One thing we have noticed is that having many participants in a meeting via conference tools like Zoom or Teams has actually increased the equity of those present. Meeting attendees who were present in the actual conference room were previously more visible and had greater access to the meeting than those who were able to attend remotely. Because everyone is using the same tool, remote conferencing has made meetings more equal. Participants can be heard and seen equally. Everyone can communicate, everyone can see one another, and everybody can interact.
We hope to reduce meeting fatigue, increase participation and visibility when we return to work by making the meeting more enjoyable.
We are committed to providing the same meeting experience for all team members, no matter where they may be or what device they use. It is all part of our strategy to create a work-from-anywhere experience for our 130K strong global workforce.
To learn more, check out Empower the Future of Work for a 130,000 Distributed Workforce, a session I recently conducted at VMworld with JP Glick, Dell Digital’s VP of Team Member Experience.
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