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Adoption of Digital Workflows – Is ‘Remote Working’ Here to Stay? Q&A with Ziad Lammam

 

Lesley Slack

Tehama partner Teradici is creator of PC over IP (PCoIP) remoting protocol technology, and offers secure cloud workspaces and virtual desktops used by many organizations to facilitate onboarding of remote workforces and third-party service providers. 

The company’s VP of Product Management, Ziad Lammam, will speak at Tehama’s upcoming Digital By Default Summit 2020, a free, month-long learning event to prepare organizations for a sustainable move to a virtual workplace. The Summit kicked off on July 7 and will hold two content sessions every weekday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time. Tehama caught up with Ziad, scheduled to speak on July 29 at 11:00 a.m., to discuss his thoughts on the remote work revolution and how Teradici is helping make it happen. 

Tehama: You’ve got 20-plus years of industry experience. Can you take us through that a little?

Ziad Lammam: I've been with Teradici since the early beginning of the company. I’ve seen the industry grow from hardware remoting to software remoting starting with desktop virtualization, and now into desktop-as-a-service to deliver virtual desktops and virtual workstations in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Along the way, Teradici has continued to update and build on the high-performance PCoIP protocol that we created 15 years ago with a complete end-to-end software stack for remoting, brokering and management for virtual desktops.

T: It seems like you’ve had an opportunity to watch the evolution of both the industry, and remote work in general. How would you describe this evolution, both pre- and post-pandemic?

ZL: Before this pandemic hit the world, I'd say that we were at the point where the remote and infrastructure technology had matured – whether that's internet bandwidth to your home, or available devices, or available infrastructure in the data center or the cloud – to a point where true remote work was possible without having to lug around laptops and big workstations at home. But what prevented more rapid remote work adoption was some of the more basic social constraints: Needing to be in the office to keep your data from being looked at by someone at home, or just not having organizations fully ready to jump into that pool yet.

But then the pandemic hit, and there was no choice other than to send everybody home. And that pushed those social or organizational constraints, and companies really had to go, ‘Okay, I guess I have to do this. How do I make this happen now?’

T: That’s an interesting comment about social constraints. How much of the past few months has been about proving to doubters that remote work isn’t a bad thing?

ZL: That's a great question. I'd say it's the majority, to be honest with you. That's been the big holdup, is really pushing everybody over that edge to say, ‘Hey, let's just make it happen, let’s allow it.’ We've seen two types of customers: Those who were familiar with the technology before, and those who were a little more hesitant or hadn't jumped in yet, and they're the ones that finally took the plunge into that swimming pool. We all had to learn how to swim. And now you’re even seeing it in industries like finance and banking, where it was frowned upon to work at home and access sensitive data. But I’m seeing this happening in every industry now.

T: So from your experience, would you say that large-scale remote work is just a temporary thing until we get over the current crisis?

ZL: I would say a hundred percent it's here to stay. During the past four months, not only have we worked with a lot of organizations to witness the transition, but we at Teradici have lived  the transition like everybody else. And personally, I think, even though I was super familiar with the technology and working remotely before, I still didn't fully dive into that pool. I didn't have the proper setup at home. I still relied on going into the office to collaborate, but now I've found a way to do it remotely.

T: That’s interesting – how did Teradici deal with the crisis? How often did your staff work from home pre-pandemic, and how has that changed?

ZL: Yeah, that's a really good one because although we provide remote technology, we were more of an in-office organization before the pandemic hit. Other than the odd remote work day here and there, we were pretty much in the office five days a week. That was just our nature. And that's great too, because you can collaborate in -person. 

But for us, we made the decision very, very quickly based on all the health recommendations locally (in Vancouver, B.C.). We met with employees and let everybody know that for everyone's safety, we'd be working from home the next day. The staff had basically 24 hours notice to make that shift – but because we were all on virtual desktops, and everybody at Teradici is running their desktop in one of the public clouds, the transition was super easy. We all literally just went home and either used the laptops we already had, or took a Zero Client home, or used an existing home PC or Mac. And it was exactly the same environment we had in the office, minus some of the luxuries like multiple screens and a proper office chair [laughs]. Everybody was able to get back online the very next day, very, very quickly.

T: Have you heard of any unique approaches or initiatives from clients, or otherwise, on their own work-from-home efforts?

ZL: The outliers that I've seen often said something like: ‘I don't have a big data center, or I'm not on the cloud yet, what do I do?’ And we did some special things to help organizations, like remotely connecting to a physical PC under someone’s desk, for example. That was not part of our standard business model before, because we were more focused on data centers and clouds, but knowing that people had to scramble and use whatever infrastructure they had, at least in a temporary fashion, we did pivot and made some adjustments in our technology to allow that to happen as well.

T: And how important was it for clients to have that speed factor, that fast onboarding? Obviously everyone wants it as fast as possible, but some businesses are a bit more time sensitive than others.

ZL: Oh, definitely. We play in many different industries, but one in particular that needed quick, quick turnaround was the broadcast industry. Just think about it: When everyone's at home, we're all consuming news and content on streaming services. But all those organizations, all the news organizations and streaming organizations, they're all working from home too – their business was exploding, but all of their staff were at home. They needed quick, quick solutions to allow everybody at home to continue to consume content. We had to work really closely with some of the folks in the media and entertainment industry to make this happen.

T: Data security, data sovereignty and trust have always been important, clearly, but have they become even more so now as opposed to pre-pandemic?

ZL: Yeah, that's a really good one too. Privacy and data security is are always important, and we’ve always ensured that even in an office environment the data is secure, whether it's on the cloud or in the data center. Part of that is just based on the technology: We support multi-factor authentication, and every pixel that's sent to your monitor is encrypted with super high AES-256 encryption. And then the pandemic hit, and those same security technology features allowed a transition to a home environment. And people quickly realized that at least if the data isn't actually on that end point in the home, that's the most secure situation that can be offered compared to taking a laptop home full of company data. We all know that's a recipe for disaster.

T: And, finally, the money question: How does Teradici enable remote work?

ZL: Our solution is offered as a subscription and we have just a couple of simple packages: One is for those who don't need a really high-performance desktop, but still want to access their day-to-day knowledge worker desktop. The other is for the high-performance folks who need GPU-powered machines in the cloud or the data center – these are called Cloud Access and Cloud Access Plus, and are offered through our partners like Tehama. 

Don't miss Ziad’s session at the Digital by Default Summit on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 11 am ET.
Adoption of Digital Workflows – Is ‘Remote Working’ Here to Stay? 

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