The main benefit of hosted desktops to law firms is that law firms can use them to access all of their applications from a single, centralized, and secure online workspace.
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.
Hosted desktops allow law firm employees to access all of their files and applications from within a single online workspace.
Many law firms use a lot of different applications, including time tracking and billing software, case and client management software, appointment scheduling software, and document management software, as well as more generic business productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Excel, and Intuit QuickBooks.
There are SaaS applications called “law practice management software” that combine the features of some of these different applications into one anywhere-accessible program, but they’re usually not comprehensive enough to replace an entire law firm’s IT.
If you try to replace your entire law firm’s IT by signing up for multiple SaaS applications, meanwhile—for example, by signing up for a law practice management SaaS, Microsoft Office 365, and Intuit QuickBooks Online—you’ll decentralize your IT and make it a lot harder to manage.
In addition, with SaaS applications, you have limited control over how your data is stored and backed up, which can result in security and compliance problems. They also limit your ability to customize your applications and upgrade them with add-ons/plugins.
With hosted desktops, in contrast, law firm employees can access all of their work-related files and applications from a single, web-based Windows desktop. They can access these desktops from anywhere they want with any device they want, including Windows, Apple, and Linux computers, and Android, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile devices.
Hosted desktops are also easier to manage than multiple separate SaaS deployments, since they’re centralized onto a small number of interconnected servers. Even a large deployment of hosted desktops can be managed from a single dashboard, and you can monitor them, update them, add applications to them, scan them for malware, create new desktops, and delete old desktops in bulk.
In addition, most hosting companies will allow you to dictate exactly how your hosted desktops are deployed at the highest level.
For example, you can choose whether your desktops are hosted on a shared or dedicated infrastructure; what version of Windows you want your desktops to be; the amount of vCPUs, RAM, and data storage allocated for each desktop; how often the data on your desktops is backed up; and where this data is backed up to.
Hosted desktops are also compatible with legacy software and application add-ons/plugins.