Virtual hosted desktops are an ideal solution for cutting IT costs and increasingly employee productivity through the use of collaboration and remote working. Like the majority, if not all, cloud computing solutions, hosted desktops are incredibly flexible, highly scalable and a cost effective way to get the best from today's technology.
Picture the scene in any office around the UK. Employees sit happily in front of their computer monitors which have all been adjusted to suit the user. Desktop wallpapers, shortcuts, specific folders, all of these can be personalised in favour of the person using it. Perhaps your admin staff like to have personal photos as their background, or a member of the sales team likes to have sales order forms where they can access them quickly and easily. All of this remains perfectly achievable in the cloud so that the end user feels like they are working on a machine where everything is stored locally, but it isn't.
Instead, the desktop and all of the associated applications are hosting 'in the cloud'. Now, unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years, you have surely come across the term cloud computing.
There's nothing mysterious about it and whilst many people that are not technologically minded seem to imagine that cloud computing means that their data floats about somewhere in cyberspace above their heads, this isn't the case. Cloud has been around for many years in one form or another; for a perfect example of this, think Gmail, which is itself a cloud service.
Cloud is simply a term that refers to a set of services that are managed at a data centre. This uses the latest hardware, software and security to manage a network of physical and virtual servers. Virtual servers are a piece of software that mimics everything that a physical server can do. This makes it less tangible than a physical server, hence it being called virtual.
This means that more often than not, cloud services are much more robust than would be found in your run of the mill office and it affords SMEs the opportunity to have a complete IT infrastructure without having to make a huge outlay in capital investment.
Hosted desktops are not a complete infrastructure, but are a part of cloud-based solutions that are known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). They can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and authorisation credentials. As hosted desktops don't use a lot in the way of computing power at a local level, this does away with the need to spend out on expensive machines and a fully functional onsite network, depending on the size and needs of the business.
In turn, this means that thin clients, or even older machines can be used in the office to access the desktop, its applications and all of the associated data, which is stored at the data centre. It also means that workers can be a lot more flexible in their working hours, especially if a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scheme is also added into the mix.
Add to this the fact that hosted desktop (and the majority of cloud services) are paid for on a monthly basis, again, doing away with the need to buy expensive software licenses up front. This also means that hosted desktop can grow and shrink with the company, as you only pay for what you are using.
It also means that all staff have the ability to work from home, or whilst out in the field. For sales staff, this is ideal, as they have the opportunity to close a sale immediately as they have access to all of the necessary paperwork, which can be updated whilst they are away from the office.
For remote workers, it affords them the opportunity to work from home, or anywhere else for that matter, at their convenience and without the need for commuting.
All of this comes together to make for a highly desirable service which benefits businesses in every way. For example, it's been proven that collaboration increases productivity, which in turn makes for a happy employee who is enjoying their work.
Cloud services in general mean that documents, accounts etc., can all be quickly shared and updated across even the largest enterprise via the network. With hosted desktop, many staff will be using the same applications and these can be updated in real time, saving time and in turn, money.
Staff can even work on the same project at the same time with each other and save the results in a presentation to show to managers instantly, even if they work from home. Hosted desktops are not just powerful either, they are capable of running on more or less any device, including:
As the line between work and home continues to blur for many of us, this means that we can work at times that are most productive and convenient to us, depending of course on the approval of managers.
Looking at the key takeaways, it's clear that there are plenty of arguments for using cloud-based hosted desktop solutions. These include:
A note lastly on security. Many people believe that the cloud is not secure enough for business data, whilst the opposite is actually true. SMEs often don't have adequate disaster recovery and back up plans in place, whilst hosted desktops are housed in a secure data centre.
A good provider will have manned security at the data centre 24/7 and the latest in hardware and software security solutions, along with a sturdy back up plan. In fact, if hardware goes down at the data centre, this often goes unnoticed by the end user as it's a simple matter to route the desktops to another part of the network in the event of a failure, without and interruption in service.
Even the most security conscience office would be hard pushed to be able to claim the same.
With no set up costs, businesses pay a monthly amount per user which will be extremely beneficial to small businesses who won't have to lay out vast sums of money and will have instant I.T. support.
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