Delivering Secure Google Virtual Desktops

Across industries, organizations are looking for ways to enable their users to remain as productive offsite as they are in-house. Although the pandemic clearly accelerated trends like hybrid and remote work, the widespread adoption of mobile devices had already begun pushing organizations toward work-from-anywhere solutions long before COVID-19. So it probably comes as no surprise that CTOs and IT departments have been eyeing solutions like virtual desktops and remote desktops with a lot more interest in recent years.

But the enablement of remote work is only one side of the coin. It’s coupled with a growing awareness that IT has to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to cybersecurity. The number of ransomware attacks has skyrocketed. Industry statistics now hold that 1,200 organizations around the world fall victim to a ransomware attack every single week. In May 2022, Illinois-based Lincoln College announced that it would close its doors for good after 157 years of operation, in part because it couldn’t recover from a debilitating ransomware attack.

What can organizations do to strike that delicate balance between flexibility and security? How can they maintain an outstanding user experience for remote workers without putting their corporate network and data at risk?

Option #1: Virtual desktops in Google Cloud

One possible answer to those questions involves deploying virtual desktops within Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to Google, there are several benefits to leveraging their own cloud services for virtualization solutions.

The first of these is security. With Google Cloud, organizations can choose among Google Workspace, Identity-Aware Proxy (IAP), or Active Directory for user authentication and authorization. Desktop services are delivered via encrypted streams.

The second benefit is flexibility. Google has partnered with some of the most well-known partners in the virtualization industry and has named three of those vendors – Cameyo, Citrix, and VMware – as Chrome Enterprise Recommended partners globally. The Chrome Enterprise Recommended designation indicates that those three vendors have been through extensive technology validation and integration to ensure that they meet Google’s standards. 

And the third benefit has to do with future-proofing. By moving their desktop infrastructure into the cloud, organizations can increase their agility and enjoy some of the advantages of cloud computing, such as simplified operations and a smaller on-premises hardware footprint.

The three main approaches to GCP virtual desktops

Google Cloud offers additional choices in how organizations decide to put their virtualization strategy into action. These choices are aligned with the three cloud desktop approaches we’ve described in detail before: virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), and virtual app delivery (VAD).

  • VDI: This is the “classic” method of delivering productivity tools to remote endpoints. Through a complex system of virtual machines (usually some version of the Windows operating system) hosted on a data center server, VDI equips end-users with a desktop-style workspace. This approach is often hindered by complexity, cost, and security concerns. 
  • DaaS: As a hybrid of VDI and software-as-a-service (SaaS), DaaS moves more of the desktop infrastructure into the cloud while still retaining VDI’s focus on the Windows operating system. Because of its cloud computing roots, DaaS usually offers more APIs and the ability to automate some aspects of workspace provisioning. But it still focuses on delivering the Windows desktop to users, meaning it comes with the cost and complexity of managing and securing those Windows desktops. 
  • VAD: VAD is a fully cloud-native virtualization technology that departs from traditional approaches. Although VAD leverages the next-gen capabilities of cloud services like GCP, it has evolved past the Windows operating system to provide users with secure, simple Cloud Desktops that deliver a seamless, optimized user experience on any device. Rather than delivering the Windows OS, VAD enables true Cloud Desktops that give users ultra-secure access to all of the apps & data they need to do their jobs from anywhere & any device.

Some end users will have workloads that still require full Windows-based virtual desktops, and in those specialized instances, VDI or DaaS may be the right choice. However, even with all the advantages of Google Cloud, both VDI and DaaS can be subject to issues with latency and complexity of orchestration. Those issues can negatively impact users’ day-to-day productivity and increase the resources that IT departments have to dedicate to managing their remote work solutions.

Option #2: Truly cloud-native desktops with Cameyo’s Virtual App Delivery (VAD)

Solutions that follow the Windows virtual desktop model end up hanging onto a lot of VDI’s legacy complexity, but VAD has the unique ability to provide a Windows-independent cloud desktop via Google’s proven platform. By shifting the emphasis to apps rather than the operating system, VAD enables organizations to leverage the security benefits of Google Cloud while eliminating the historical dependence on the Windows operating system.

Not sure whether a Windows-independent cloud desktop approach is right for you? Here’s what Brian Stopinski, Corporate IT Operations Director at Community Hospital Corp. (CHC) had to say about how his organization came to select Cameyo after evaluating Citrix, VMware, and Nutanix first:

“When I first started my conversation with Cameyo, my mentality was that we had to deliver full Windows desktops. It’s simply the byproduct of 25 years of experience with Windows desktops, and I think a lot of people are still stuck in the same mentality that I was,” said Stopinski. 

“It wasn’t until I saw Cameyo in action that it fully clicked that I did not need to present the entire Windows desktop. I realized that the desktop brings a lot of inherent baggage with it. There’s unnecessary stuff the user doesn’t need which actually complicates their workflow. There’s all this white noise on the Windows desktop that doesn’t make them more productive.” 

“With Cameyo, I finally realized that the user doesn’t need to see the Windows OS. As an organization, we always ask ‘What is the value add?’ whenever we’re evaluating something new. So I applied that question to something old – Windows desktops – and it became obvious that the added value was zero.” 

“In fact, the real value add is the elimination of the Windows desktop, because I don’t have to deal with all the complexity and all of the security concerns that Windows desktops bring. I can also deliver a lower cost solution because I don’t have to license Windows OS, I don’t have to license a Windows Terminal Server, I don’t have to support all of that infrastructure just to deliver the Windows desktop,” said Stopinski.

And no one does virtual app delivery better than Cameyo. After all, we pioneered and refined this technology to make it as secure, flexible and user-friendly as possible.

Cameyo’s cloud-native VAD platform allows users to access their apps via any modern HTML5-capable browser (such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari) or as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which provides a user experience that feels like the app is installed locally on the device. This provides a true cloud desktop experience that isn’t bound to any one operating system on the client side. Chromebook, Linux, Android, iOS and Mac users can all access the apps they need right from their desktop, laptop or mobile device. Every session is HTTPS-encrypted, and Cameyo uses multiple technologies to safeguard data without sacrificing a seamless user experience.

Furthermore, while Google Cloud brings amazing benefits, we recognize that different organizations have different needs. Some might want tight integration with Google Docs, whereas others might have a custom pricing agreement with a different provider. That’s why Cameyo lets you use your preferred cloud service provider, so you can pick from popular solutions like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) too.

If you’re looking to strike that elusive balance between security and flexibility—while also delivering the most seamless end-user experience—Cameyo delivers on all counts. Remote users as well as IT admins value its ease of use and transparency. To see how our cloud desktops offer a more streamlined, secure and cost-effective alternative to virtual desktop solutions based on VDI or DaaS, sign up for a free trial of Cameyo today. And if you’d like more details on how exactly Cameyo integrates with cloud service providers like Google, feel free to request a demo.