We’ve discussed the benefits of hosted desktops over locally-installed desktop operating systems in previous articles, such as “Hosted Desktop: The PC Desktop That You Can Access from Anywhere” and “Hosted Desktops vs. Traditional In-House IT: Which Is Better?” In today’s article, we’re going to talk about the benefits of switching all of your employees from local PCs to hosted desktops, as opposed to just some of your employees.
To review, hosted desktops are basically Windows desktop operating systems that you can access via the Internet. Instead of the Windows desktop OS being installed on a PC, the OS is installed on the server of an IT hosting company. You pay the IT hosting company a monthly fee to host the desktop for you, and you can access the desktop from any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Each hosted desktop is assigned to a specific user, and any changes to the desktop are saved when the user logs out—so any files, applications, and settings that are on the desktop when the user logged out will still be there when he or she logs back in.
In general, the advantages of hosted desktops over locally-installed desktop OSes include:
They are more centralized. Hosted desktops and all of their data remain on the hosting company’s servers at all times. Even when a hosted desktop is in use, only the audio and video output of the desktop is transferred to the user’s device.
They are continually protected, maintained, updated, and backed up by the hosting company. Most hosting companies handle the security, maintenance, patch management, and data backups of their hosted desktops, either as part of the service or for an additional cost. Because hosting companies can afford to purchase the most advanced software and hire the most knowledgeable and experienced employees, they’re better at protecting, maintaining, and managing their hosted desktops than most businesses would be at protecting, maintaining, and managing their own hosted desktops or local PCs.
They can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected device. Hosted desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client. This allows employees to access their files and applications after they’ve left the office for the day or when they’re traveling. It also allows businesses to support multiple offices in multiple different locations (as well as all telecommuting employees) with a single, centralized deployment of hosted desktops.
They don’t require the purchase of any expensive onsite PCs or servers. With hosted desktops, you don’t have to purchase expensive, high-end PCs for your employees, because hosted desktops perform well even when they’re accessed from low-cost, low-quality thin clients and old, repurposed PCs (since they’re processed and stored on the hosting provider’s servers); or any onsite servers, since the hosting provider purchases the servers that it uses to host your hosted desktops, and there’s no reason to purchase onsite servers for centralized and easy-to-manage applications, email, and file storage, since these are features of hosted desktops.
Now that we’ve discussed the advantages of hosted desktops over locally-installed desktop OSes in general, let’s talk about the advantages of providing all of your employees with hosted desktops instead of locally-installed desktop OSes, as opposed to providing only some of your employees with hosted desktops. These advantages include:
All of your company’s files and applications remain on the hosting provider’s servers at all times. If your entire organization uses hosted desktops, then you don’t have to worry about an important file being stored on the hard drive of an insecure or hard-to-access device, or about your applications being hosted on an unreliable or hard-to-access server.
You don’t have to purchase or maintain any expensive onsite PCs or servers. If you retain some locally-installed desktop OSes or locally-hosted applications, you’ll have to continue to purchase and maintain expensive PCs and servers. You may also have to hire additional IT employees to manage and maintain this hardware. But with hosted desktops, you only need to purchase low-cost, low-maintenance thin clients or refurbished PCs for your employees—or you can allow your employees to use their own, personal devices to do their work—and you can host all of your applications on the hosting provider’s servers, either in conjunction with the hosted desktops or as their own standalone hosted applications.
Overall, providing hosted desktops to all of your employees instead of locally-installed desktop OSes minimizes the cost and complexity of your IT.
If your company only uses hosted desktops, then it’s possible that it won’t need any other IT hardware than thin clients, peripherals, monitors, printers, and networking equipment. In addition, you don’t have to worry about monitoring, protecting, updating, backing up, and supporting your hosted desktops—your hosting provider will take care of this for you. The hosting provider will be able to host all of your applications, including custom-built software, legacy applications, resource-intensive applications (such as CAD and video editing software), and applications with higher-than-normal security requirements (like e-commerce systems, PoS systems, EMRs/EHRs, and accounting software).
To ensure that you always have access to all of your files and applications, the hosting provider will monitor and maintain your hosted desktops 24x7x365, and implement high-availability measures such as redundant hardware, power, and Internet, and backup hot sites and cold sites.
All of your files and applications will be centralized into a single deployment of hosted desktops, which will be accessible to all of your employees, no matter where they’re located. In addition, if you consolidate your IT into a single deployment of hosted desktops, then you only have to maintain a relationship with a single hosting provider—so there’s no having to keep track of all of your different contracts and licenses with a bunch of different providers and vendors.
In sum, providing all of your employees with hosted desktops instead of locally-installed desktop OSes will allow you to run a more streamlined business, with minimal onsite IT hardware, limited IT management responsibilities, and support for branch offices and remote workers, while also ensuring that your IT is secure, reliable, and compatible with all of your files and applications.
Of course, providing hosted desktops to only a portion of your employees has its benefits, too, but your business won’t be as streamlined, since it will still have to purchase and maintain the PCs and servers for the users without hosted desktops.