The end of the 2020 become a fact, and with it the yearly look back on the achievements and the projects which were started and finished in 2020. For many businesses, this year has been extremely challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this unprecedented context, TSplus has continued to develop smart and accessible solutions to help organizations of all sizes adapt. Jack Riggen, IT coordinator at Vistability, tells how TSplus Remote Access helped them get through the crisis.
Vistability was founded in 1962. The organization is a non-profit, community-based organization—their mission is to enhance and enrich the lives of children with special needs and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and similar conditions. They provide direct services and advocacy to assist those they serve in achieving their highest level of personal independence and self-sufficiency.
Vistability was founded by parents and family members of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their vision has always and continues to guide everything they do. Known for providing high quality, cost-effective services, the association serves over 1,000 children and adults in Contra Costa County every day. Services are provided at 13 agency locations and in hundreds of homes, businesses, and community settings, county-wide.
TSplus Interviewed Jack Riggen, IT Coordinator for Vistability.
“I am the sole IT person on staff and am responsible for all IT related infrastructure development, maintenance, and troubleshooting.
“I applied for a job with Vistability shortly after being laid off from my previous job with Longs Drug Stores, having worked there for 14 years in various IT functions from the Helpdesk up to project management for the hardware support department.
“What inspired me to apply was the mission of the agency, which supports and advocates for the developmentally disabled community and their families in Contra Costa County. Having spent what at the time was the first half of my IT career in a corporate environment, I was eager to be involved in something with purpose beyond the corporate shareholder appeasement and profit-driven motives of a large company. Vistability was the perfect place to put my IT expertise to use for a greater good, and feeling like what I did had some meaning. IT’s been the best, most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I will have been with the agency for 14 years this coming April 2021.”
A Response to Windows 7 Remote Desktop End of Support
Asked about the needs of Vistability for a remote access solution, Jack mentioned the difficulties related to the end of Windows 7 support.
“We had been building and using Windows 7-based remote desktop servers for a number of years, but using a custom component for terminal services that became increasingly unreliable as Microsoft rolled out security updates that broke the component which allowed multiple concurrent remote desktop sessions on a machine.
“Prior to the Covid crisis, in 2019, I had been looking for a way to continue providing consolidated remote desktop services for our agency staff without a significant increase in cost or complexity for our infrastructure. What had previously worked for this approach was going to become obsolete at the point that Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 in early 2020.
“I had not determined exactly how I was going to accomplish the same outcome as I explored Windows 10 based equivalents and had almost surrendered to moving our VMs to the yet to be released Windows 10 Remote Desktop on the Azure platform.”
Then, Jack discovered TSplus!
Easy and Cost-Attractive Web Remote Desktop Access Solution
RDS Web Access Deployed in a Snap and Well-Suited to Small Budgets
When he first heard about TSplus, Jack was doubtful: it seemed too good to be true.
“Not only did TSPlus provide the same multiple concurrent remote desktop session capability as my previous “homegrown” solution, it did so with far better security, and provided a web-based remote desktop access option that had been very high on my wish list for our infrastructure to that point.
“I have installed TSPlus on all of our remote desktop virtual machines, which are all hosted on bare metal hypervisors on-site at each of our facilities. We don’t use Active Directory or Domain Services. Each server is standalone and managed individually. While this non-standard approach has its limitations, there has been no compelling reason for us to implement anything more complicated or expensive in the 6 years we’ve had remote desktop as our de facto desktop experience.
“By far the most used feature of TSPlus is the web-based remote desktop client that can be used from any web browser.
“TSPlus is incredibly effective, easy to deploy and manage, and fits our budget perfectly. It was really a no-brainer for me and has served us well so far, especially during the Covid crisis when the majority of our (minimally computer proficient) staff are working from home now.”
Secure Work-From-Home Solution
Jack Riggen reports that TSplus and Advanced Security, the TSplus cybersecurity add-on, greatly helped Vistability and its staff maintain business continuity when Covid-19 crisis forced them to leave the office:
“The fact that our remote desktop servers can be accessed from a web browser has enabled all of our staff to work remotely at the precise time when that has been most needed.
“By providing a simple access option using a web browser, all I’ve had to do to give staff remote access from any internet-connected computer is send them the custom subdomain URL for each site. This has effectively eliminated the need for me to send remote desktop shortcuts to people and manage those configurations on machines I don’t have the means to remotely control.
“For a one-person IT department, this has paid huge dividends, as I am not scrambling to coordinate troubleshooting with a widely distributed staff.
“Most importantly, it has allowed our staff to continue working, safely from home, using a familiar and secure interface to their desktop environment.“
Jack recommends TSplus and its companion tool, Advanced Security, to “anyone looking to simplify and fortify their remote desktop infrastructure.“
To complete its line of remote access solution and respond more efficiently to the current economical context, TSplus has recently released a new software dedicated to Home office: Remote Work.