Hosted desktops are an easy and cost-efficient way for small businesses to centralize their IT and make it easy to manage, while also ensuring that these businesses’ users have flexibility in how they access their files and applications, and without diminishing the performance or reliability of their IT.
What Is a Hosted Desktop?
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.
Why Small Businesses Need a Centralized IT Infrastructure
Many small businesses don’t have a centralized IT infrastructure—they just have a bunch of unassociated PCs and some networking equipment; and they may also make use of cloud-based solutions such as SaaS CRMs and project management software and online data storage services. The problems with decentralized IT systems like these include that:
-They make the company’s files difficult to find, protect, and back up
-They make it a lot more difficult to perform IT management tasks such as updating the software on all of the company’s PCs, backing up all of the company’s data, and tracking software licenses and SaaS subscriptions
-They can make it difficult or impossible to ensure compliance with data security regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOX, which require you to store, protect, and back up data in specific ways
At the same time, many small businesses can’t afford to set up a centralized IT infrastructure on their own, which would normally require purchasing, configuring, and integrating at least a few $1,000+ servers and storage devices, or buying and setting up a few virtual servers and storage instances with a self-service public cloud provider. It will also probably require hiring at least one IT employee.
Hosted Desktops: Centralized, Easy to Manage, and Affordable
Hosted desktops, meanwhile, are both centralized and affordable, and they’re versatile enough that they can serve as a small business’s entire IT infrastructure. Hosted desktops and their data remain on the hosting provider’s servers at all times—when users access their desktops, only the video and audio output of the desktops are transferred to the users’ devices.
Many hosting providers will provide you with access to an online portal from which you can manage all of your company’s hosted desktops. With Iron Orbit’s online portal, the Orbital Portal, for example, you can add and delete desktops, view the status of your desktops, restart or shut down desktops, add and remove applications, reset passwords, and add Exchange mailboxes, among other features.
The hosting provider may also handle the management of many aspects of your hosted desktops for you, such as updating your applications, backing up and protecting your data, monitoring and maintaining the desktops’ backend infrastructure, and providing 24/7 technical support to users.
With hosted desktops, you don’t have to purchase any onsite servers or storage devices, and you don’t have to hire any additional IT employees. They can also help you to reduce your end-user hardware costs, because you can access hosted desktops from low-cost, low-maintenance devices such as thin clients or old or refurbished PCs, as well as from personal devices (devices purchased by you or your employees for personal use), without decreasing the performance or security of the desktops.
Versatile and Anywhere-Accessible, Too
Hosted desktops have everything that most small businesses need from their IT—desktop operating systems, applications, files storage, email, and access to the Internet for users, and centralized management, backups, security, and technical support.
In addition, hosted desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected device, which gives employees more flexibility in how they access all of their work-related files and applications—it allows employees to do their work on a laptop or tablet that they bring from home, for example, instead of a PC workstation; and it allows employees to do their work from anywhere, enabling them to work from home if they want to (and if the employer allows it), or continue working after they’ve left the office for the day.
Giving your employees flexible access to their IT can increase employee morale and productivity, especially among younger workers that are used to being able to access software and data from anywhere and switch back and forth between PCs and mobile devices.