The Pros and Cons of Virtual Hosted Desktops

Whilst we spend a lot of time banging on about the benefits of hosted desktops, choosing the wrong supplier could result in something of a headache for IT administrators, whose job it really should be making easier. Bearing this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the pros and cons that virtual desktops could present if you fail to plan and choose the wrong supplier.

Whilst many companies are happy to sit back and continue using their old XP-based machines, this can’t last forever as Microsoft, in their wisdom, have already ended non-security support for the OS, but plan on ending all support for XP by 2014; that’s not a great deal of time to upgrade the whole office.

Whilst virtual desktops can manage to run applications and an image of a newer OS (or even older, if necessary), they can also run older OS without the need for an SMB to invest a huge amount of capital outlay. This does away with the need to upgrade hardware until your business is financially placed to do so.

What’s more, it’s great news for the IT guys as they don’t have to install patches and updates all the time as this is done at the data centre end. Again, this depends on your supplier and you should have a good look around and plan well before committing to any one company.

For larger companies, a whole new infrastructure may need to be built in order to utilise cloud, whether that be a hybrid solution or complete deployment. However for SMBs, this can be overcome by using a virtual desktop service, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as it’s known.

Of course, the downside to this is the extra training that might be required, although really an interface can look and feel exactly like it did before to the end-user. However, IT administrators will have to learn the capabilities and scope of the software, depending on access levels given to employees and encompassing BYOD schemes.

Saying that, good companies have good support and problems can usually be solved at server-end in the data centre. Of course, servers can fail too, even virtual ones, so be sure to ask if your supplier has a good disaster recovery plan and ask to see it.

Of course, a lot has been said concerning the potential security and compliance problems which surround the cloud but these are becoming allayed now. Many businesses who use cloud services report that security and data backup is better than it ever was.

Compliance of course will depend on the type of business you run; many industries have much stricter rules to adhere to than others so this is something else that you will have to question your supplier carefully on before making a commitment.

Further to this, you really should plan well and know exactly what kind of questions you need to ask when it comes to choosing a supplier. If they seem vague on issues such as security, updates and compliance matters, then you should probably give them a swerve.

To be honest, a basic virtual hosted desktop shouldn’t be too difficult to deploy, which is why they have become more popular in SMBs. The benefits of cost-cutting and flexibility is hard to resist, especially in the current economic climate when many of us in business are fighting to stay ahead.

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