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Hosted Desktops in Government: An Agile, Low-Cost, and Compliant Solution for a Highly-Regulated Sector

Hosted desktops can help government organizations increase the accessibility of their files and applications, make it easier to perform OS and application upgrades and updates, improve data security, reduce energy usage, and lower their hardware and operational costs.

Hosted desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any network-connected computer, thin client, tablet, or smartphone. They allow government employees to access their files and applications from any location. The accessibility of hosted desktops, in turn, enable government workers to access their files and applications from home, if they want to put in some extra work at night or over the weekend, for example, or are too sick to come in to the office but healthy enough to work. It also allows always-on-the-move government employees, including police officers and social workers, to access critical files and applications from the field.

Hosted desktops also makes it easier for government IT departments to upgrade and update all of the OSes and applications for all of its users, since they are centralized and their OSes and applications can be easily and quickly changed by using hosted desktop templates.

Hosted desktops are more secure than physical PCs that rely on a locally-installed operating system, meanwhile, because with hosted desktops users’ data remains on the server at all times—so government IT departments don’t have to worry about lost or stolen devices resulting in data breaches, and they don’t have to concentrate as much on securing their numerous end-user devices. Hosted desktops can also increase security when used instead of locally-installed operating systems with computers that are made available for anyone to use, such as the ones at libraries, because they can be set up to revert to a template after each user logs out, so that any sensitive data that a user inputs into the public computer (some people use the computers at libraries to pay their bills and check their bank accounts, for example) won’t be accessible to any subsequent users. Another reason hosted desktops are so secure is because of the aforementioned ease with which their OSes and applications can be updated, since one of the main targets of hackers is out-of-date OSes and applications with known vulnerabilities.

Other benefits of hosted desktops for government organizations include:

  • Reduced energy usage. Hosted desktops can reduce energy usage when accessed from thin clients, which are low-cost, energy-efficient devices designed to access server-based resources (they usually have a limited CPU and minimal storage capacity, and can’t install or run applications on their own). They can therefore help government organizations achieve compliance with environmental regulations, which tend to be stricter for public sector organizations than for private companies.
  • Lower hardware and operational costs. Hosted desktops reduce hardware costs because they can be accessed from cost-efficient thin clients and refurbished PCs, and because they increase the lifespan and reduce the maintenance requirements of end-user devices since they are processed and stored entirely on the host servers. Another way that hosted desktops can help government organizations reduce their costs is by allowing them to consolidate their offices (by having some workers telecommute or by using thin clients, which take up less space than PC desktops).