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Hosted Desktops in Finance: Better Coordination with Your Branches, and Better Protection for Your Client’s Data

For financial services organizations, hosted desktops can make it easier to manage and support all of their users; maintain security and compliance; and allow employees to continue working in the event of an IT disaster.

Many financial services organizations have multiple branches in addition to their main headquarters—and some have dozens and even hundreds of them. Hosted desktops are an ideal IT solution for decentralized businesses like these, because they can be accessed from anywhere and with any network-connected computer, thin client, tablet, or smartphone. They ensure that all employees in the organization are provided with access to the same applications and databases regardless of their location.

A problem for financial companies with multiple branches and a centralized IT department that don’t have hosted desktops is local IT support. The IT departments of such companies have to spend a large amount of their time and budget on traveling to each branch to repair and troubleshoot hardware and update applications. (Alternatively, the company can assign a dedicated, onsite IT department to each branch, though this will probably end up being even more expensive than an oft-traveling IT support team.) If they sign up for hosted desktops, however, they won’t have to repair and troubleshoot the local hardware as often, since hosted desktops are processed and stored on the server and not locally (so the age or condition of the local hardware doesn’t matter as much), and applications can be centrally managed and updated.

Hosted desktops can also increase IT security for financial services organizations. They can be set up to prevent users from being able to move data off of the server (for example, by saving documents to their local hard drive), ensuring that all of the company’s data remains on the centralized VDI servers at all times. As a result, the IT department doesn’t have to worry about branch employees stealing data electronically or storing it on insecure endpoints, and the centralized hosted desktop system is easier to defend than a decentralized one with localized processing and storage.

Business continuity, meanwhile, is important for financial services organizations like banks, since many consumers need, or at least expect, continual access to their financial resources. With hosted desktops, as long as the VDI systems and its backups aren’t affected, employees can continue to access their files and applications even when their branch is unavailable due to an incident such as a natural disaster or localized power outage. A tax and accounting firm with an office in New York City highlighted in this case study was able to continue operating even after its location was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, for example, because it had hosted desktops that its employees could access from home or from a temporary office located outside of the flood zone.