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The global spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is driving more employees to work from home. Meanwhile, many organizations are starting to discover just how unprepared they are to enable every employee to work outside the office. It’s one thing to support a small number of employees, such as salespeople, trying to access applications over a virtual private network. It’s different when every employee needs to work from home, especially when internal IT teams might only be given a few days of notice.

Not only do IT teams need to generally contract for more bandwidth and application licenses, securing all those endpoints becomes a major issue. After all, most of those employees are likely employing systems that are already infected with any number of variants of malware.

The biggest challenge will be for organizations that are still dependent on local Windows server applications. Organizations that already rely on cloud applications will have a significant advantage. In fact, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application providers, such as Zoho, are now making free licenses available for a temporary period as a “humanitarian gesture” to organizations that suddenly need to have all their employees working from home.

Making Windows applications available

Cameyo has made an edition of its virtual application delivery platform for managed service providers (MSPs). The company’s namesake platform makes it possible to deliver any Windows application to any device without having to go onsite and install apps, notes Cameyo CEO Andrew Miller. The goal is to enable MSPs to provide remote access to Windows applications without all the overhead associated with deploying desktop virtualization software from Citrix or VMware, says Miller.

Of course, once the panic subsides many organizations will be considering their IT options. In the weeks and months ahead, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the number of customers looking to migrate to cloud applications starts to spike. There may be an initial rush to mitigate the current crisis, but the bigger opportunity for MSPs is likely to manifest itself after business and IT leaders have absorbed the lessons learned.

MSPs should test their own resiliency

There’s a tendency to assume that because MSPs remotely support clients they are prepared to have their entire organization work from home. As it often turns out, however, there’s always one legacy application that isn’t  that tolerant of network latency or, for that matter, friendly to a mobile computing device. It doesn’t matter if everybody can work from home if the billing application is inaccessible.

Hopefully, the current crisis will pass as the weather warms and hopefully the virus becomes less virulent. However, the coronavirus will likely behave much like any other virus — It will be back.

Photo: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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