Take a moment to picture the typical business office. Most often, people conjure images of high-walled cubicles, hard-wired desktops, bulky business laptops, and professionals that are truly dressed to impress. People in that imaginary office might be getting work done, but, they could be doing it a lot faster, and with a lot more flexibility. They could do it without worrying about losing years of work if the system suffers a failure. They could be working halfway around the world and have access to everything at their company’s HQ. In short, that pictured office could be using a hosted desktop to make their business faster and more fault resistant.
It’s not exactly an uncommon solution either. Per a 2013 survey by TechRepublic, virtual desktops were present in roughly half of the companies surveyed. Do you want to be left behind?
What is a hosted desktop?
Also, known as desktop as a service (DaaS), a hosted desktop uses a cloud-based server to provide hardware and software virtualisation for a wide variety of users. Separate IDs and a remote connection service allow these users to access those items from around the world. Basically, by using a hosted desktop, you give an employee their own hard-wired desktop, or fully-equipped laptop, without having them chained to a cubicle or power outlet. By providing user IDs, you limit access to files and programs to those who need it.
How can a hosted desktop make my business more efficient?
- It Lets You Work Anytime, Anywhere. A study by Pixmania found that cloud computing can increase the average worker’s productivity by up to 20-percent. If you want to work in the Bahamas, a virtual desktop gives you the freedom to do just that. By giving your employees the chance to help from any internet connection, anywhere in the world, you’re freeing yourself from the chains of time and physical hardware. Employees can now shoot quick e-mails from their phones, approve sample designs during lunch from their tablets, and run accounting software from home. Mobile compatibility keeps them close at hand no matter the weather. By allowing yourself, and others, the liberties of a virtual desktop, you’ll be better able to ensure items arrive on time, anytime.
- System Updates Don’t Require an Army. Do you remember the days where updating software or hardware required running an IT team ragged and a virtual mountain of blank CD-Rs? With a virtual desktop, you can save time updating your system. As all applications are held on one secure cloud-based server, each update only needs to be installed once. That way, no matter how your employee is accessing their virtual desktop, he or she will have the most up-to-date programs available. Best of all, virtual desktops give your IT employees time to deal with the most important question: “Did you try turning it on and off again?”.
- Diagnosing Software Issues Is a Snap. Once again, IT reaps benefits from shifting over to a system built on virtual and hosted desktops. As all files and programs are hosted in one centralised location, troubleshooting becomes much easier. Instead of having to scrub an employee’s personal machine for errors, you can now do it over the centralised server. This speeds up problem diagnosis and repair. Best of all, when a widespread issue has been found, it only needs to be fixed in one place. By bringing all your issues close to home, you’ll save dozens of hours on IT failures and, potentially, thousands of pounds.
- You Waste Less Time on Potential Security Breaches. By putting system security into the cloud, and limiting access to areas of potential breach to only those who need it, you make it easier to protect your company’s resources. Additionally, as employees do not carry around sensitive data in physical hardware, the potential for security leaks or information loss drops drastically. Best of all, if you’re hosting the desktops off-site, cloud providers typically provide security monitoring around the clock. Therefore, even if malcontents come knocking at 2:30 AM, you can rest easy without interrupting your dreams of super bowl fame.
- You Spend Fewer Hours and Money with Hardware Failures. Typically, when an employee is chained to a desktop or bulky business laptop, system failure stops that employee from working. That means that you’re wasting time, and money, paying an employee that can do nothing other than sweep the floor and twiddle their thumbs. After all, in a traditional hard-wired system, it takes time to extract all those files and set up a new computer with their login. If you move everything to the cloud, however, those worries get tossed out the window. With a virtual desktop, your most valuable employees will no longer be one failed hard drive or cracked LCD away from hours of non-productive time.
- Data Loss or Forgetfulness Doesn’t Have to be Catastrophic. Have you arrived at an important business meeting and realise you left that multi-million-dollar presentation at home? Have you woken up in the middle of the night after dreaming you spilled a pot of coffee across your keyboard and ruined hundreds of hours’ worth of work? As most cloud providers offer free back-up, system cooling, and back-up power, you’ll be able to leave a lot of those worries behind. You’ll save hours of stress and redone work when you switch to a system based on virtualisation.
What Should I Consider Before Moving My Office Over to a Hosted Desktop Environment?
Before you move your whole organisation into the cloud, there are some things to consider. Like almost all solutions, desktop virtualisation isn’t exactly one size fits all.
- Printing Can Be Difficult: One of the biggest complaints about VDI and DaaS stems from the difficulties it presents to printing. As employees, can access data via mobile devices, a whole new layer of complication is added to the printing process. Other issues including print jobs being sent to the wrong place or a lack of printing permissions on a device. Most companies who virtually host their desktops will be forced to use a third-party software to streamline the process.
- Shoddy Internet Connections Can Slow Work to a Crawl: Your data transfer and access is only as fast as your internet connection. If you are having wireless issues, accessing your data can turn into a headache. Most companies couple their virtual desktop infrastructure with enhanced fail safes on their internet connectivity. For employees, a long way from home, however, the snail-like connection can prove frustrating.
- If you Outsource Your VDI, You Risk Exposure of Sensitive Information: While you can stop thieves from getting your company’s information, as you can shut off access to the cloud at the touch of a button, you will have difficulties stopping your host from peeking into your information. Please consider how sensitive your cloud-based data will be before moving it onto a third-party server. If it proves highly-confidential, you may be best keeping the server inside your company.
- Exporting to the Cloud Requires Reformatting: To be stored reliably in cyberspace, your data must be converted into a distinct file-type. While this makes it easy to send data in, it can make it difficult to pull it back from the archives. Some things can be lost in translation.
- Services Offered by Outside Providers Vary: If you do decide to outsource your hosted desktops, you need to be careful when picking a provider. Some companies do not provide 24-hour support. Others refuse to give your IT team any power to monitor and change accounts. Make certain that the company you choose has everything you need. Paying a bit extra for more uptime just might prove worth it.
While not perfect, a hosted desktop solution can help accelerate your efficiency. By giving your employees the right to work when they want, where they want, you give them the freedom they need to get the work done. With compatibility with many mobile devices, such as tablets and cell phone, a cloud-based system brings the typical business office out of the 1990s and into the 21st century. In addition to providing enhanced liberty, you’ll also make some notable enhancements to system security, system speed, and system repair. While it’s not a perfect solution, and perhaps too costly for some mom-and-pop shops, this solution could be the next great thing in IT.
Don’t get left behind.