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VMblog #WorkFromHome Series Q&A with Henning Volkmer, President & CEO, ThinPrint

WFH-2020-VMBLOG-QA

About a third of Americans are now working from home, more ever than before.  And quite simply, that's due in large part because of COVID-19 and the pandemic that was unleashed across the globe this year. 

In this latest VMblog #WorkFromHome Series, we're exploring what technology means in this current paradigm shift of working remotely.  And in order to do that, we're reaching out to industry experts to help shine a light on the subject.  We're asking these experts to offer up their opinions and advice on what's taking place now and where things go in the future. 

In this Q&A, VMblog connected with industry expert, Henning Volkmer, President & CEO ThinPrint Inc., to get his opinion on the work from home topic and at the same time, find out more about the company's work from home offerings. 

 

VMblog:  We have all been witness to a global pandemic, and it is changed the way we work.  More than ever, we are seeing a large percentage of employees working from home.  How has this shift in the way we work changed the way companies are dealing with their employees?

Henning Volkmer:  Companies have had to learn a great deal during the global pandemic. They had to figure out how to empower the employees to work from home, and how to adapt management structures to provide both support and supervision. Many of those changes have been technological changes, for example laptops instead of office PCs and virtual desktops instead of physical ones. However, many have also been on the "people level" so employees that are used to being in a group office setting, sharing failures and successes, can still be productive and happy when all their sharing happens online.

I believe that both companies and employees have learned a lot about themselves in the past six months. But, we all need to take these hastily embedded changes, as well as cherished ways of working in the past, and combine them into a safe, sustainable and healthy future.

VMblog:  "This is the year of VDI" has been a mantra for virtual desktops for many years running.  We've gone through remote PC, VDI, DaaS, cloud desktops, etc.  But it is never really gotten mass adoption, why do you think that is?  And does this event finally change that?

Volkmer:  The attention is certainly on the topic and, as a result, I believe the VDI/EUC topic will get a huge boost. However, it might not quite take off like a rocket ship. There are too many applications to port over, local infrastructure, such as printers and webcams, to integrate, executives to convince, users to train and more. These things take more than six months in most companies. But companies are also acutely aware that they need to support a permanently changed workplace, embracing "Hybrid Work" and being prepared for whatever crises may be next. Investors, regulators and customers won't let us be caught off guard again and will not likely show the same level of patience and understanding in the future when we're not prepared.

That said, between the pandemic and the introduction of Windows Virtual Desktop to a wider audience, we're definitely in the "year that VDI got a lot of attention." The EUC community will very successfully build on that.

VMblog:  What are you hearing from customers and prospects?  Were they completely caught off guard with mass remote work from home?  Or were they already putting things into place, perhaps for other business continuity reasons?

Volkmer:  I believe we're not the only EUC vendor that has seen some of both. There's certainly a group of customers that were not ready for the pandemic. There were those that were somewhat prepared because they were using VDI, but were not able to scale quickly enough. Then there were quite a few who were able to hit the ground running.

Kudos to the last group. A lot of foresight, planning and resources went into being part of that group. But not everyone was in a position to make these investments - for whatever reasons. I am sure that IT teams and "users" in both of the other groups will work as hard as they can to make sure they'll be ready for the next challenge. We all learned a lot lately.

VMblog:  How has this shift of working from home affected people, connectivity, infrastructure, security, etc.?

Volkmer:  Everything and everyone has been affected a great deal. If streaming services more or less voluntarily reduced their video quality to free up bandwidth, the train on connectivity has definitely been real. Scalability has massively affected infrastructure demands from cloud resources to on-prem servers to laptops, webcams and printers. Even those with plenty of money to spend could barely lay their hands on these items for months and some are still in short supply. Security has had to turn a blind eye here and there to make sure we had some kind of way to keep the world moving. However, security teams caught up quickly to start implementing proper systems and procedures and make the necessary changes of the last six months viable in the long term.

People have probably been most affected both in IT and on the user sides. Shortages of equipment and services made it difficulty to supply users with the applications they needed to do their jobs, leaving both sides frustrated. On top of that, our daily routines have been upended. Gone are the quick chats over coffee or the joint lunch outing. The reality today are the endless video conference meetings. Does the lack of a commute make up for that? We all should definitely be proud of ourselves for handling the work side of the pandemic as well as we did.

VMblog:  How does your software enable the "work from home" shift?  And where do your solutions fit within the grand scheme of things?

Volkmer:  There are quite a few scenarios, such as locked down company laptops with VPN connections and disabled USB ports, that disable any connection to the local infrastructure, cutting users off from their printers. In addition, the need for security keeps the user from routing company information through a personal, possible insecure computer, when users need to print. In reality, a home office is much like a very small branch office and we're providing the solutions to make sure that the users can seamlessly work (print) at home or at the office or in both places. We foresee users splitting their time between home and office in a "Hybrid Work" model from now on and believe technologies that are easy to use and affordable will allow a user to integrate their home office into the corporate infrastructure just like from inside the office.

VMblog:  What are the big problems that you solve for those companies whose workers are now working from home?

Volkmer:  All of our solutions, both ThinPrint and ezeep, are here to take the complexity out of printing. The first does that on-prem or via a private cloud. The latter does so as a cloud service. Whether its connecting a Windows Virtual Desktop user to their home printer without routing the data through their home computer, a Citrix or VMware user looking to make their environment more resilient with high availability printing, a Microsoft RDS user looking to keep drivers off their RDS servers, or a company with laptops locked down tightly so that no communication is possible via USB or the local network, looking to connect users to their office and home office printers is essential.

Our solutions easily connect users to the closest printers, integrate home office printers as if they were part of the company network through the ThinPrint Hub or ezeep Hub, eliminate the need for drivers on the user's virtual or physical desktops, greatly reduce the need for bandwidth without sacrificing quality and provide increased security through end-to-end encryption or release printing and tracking analytics.

Neither ThinPrint nor ezeep need special printers. Both support all existing and future printers from the simplest ink jet printers to the most sophisticated MFPs.

ThinPrint is the perfect print solution for those looking to run their environment on-prem or in the private cloud while ezeep provides printing and print management as a service with no local servers so organizations and their users simply bring their applications and their printers. We do everything else.

VMblog:  What advice do you have for companies who are still trying to figure out their own game plan for remote workers?

Volkmer:  EUC is a lively, friendly, engaged and helpful community. Talk to those who have already done research, lean on their experiences, ask questions. Be open to the idea that your game plan will include very little of how you've done business before. Be mindful to preserve the core values that make your organization great and know that not all change is bad - even if it may seem daunting.

When you've written your game plan and implemented it and learned from mistakes, be sure to come back to the community and share your experience so others can listen, learn and be encouraged.

VMblog:  Finally, is work from home and all that we've been doing as a collective group a short-term fix?  Will people go back to working in the office after this is over?  And if they do go back to the office, do companies continue leveraging the things they put in place, like virtual desktops and remote capabilities?  Or do you see some percentage still working from home, or perhaps a mix mode or employee choice?

Volkmer:  All of the above. A lot of change has been forced upon us, implemented quickly to keep the world moving. Many of us loved the office and our office friends. Many of us would have preferred to spend less time commuting or just being in their quiet home away from people where they could be most productive. We're not trying to combine two different puzzles to build a productive, friendly and secure workplace for our future. We're completing a few more pieces of the puzzle we've been working on for years. It'll all come together nicely.

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Published Wednesday, September 30, 2020 7:26 AM by David Marshall
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