Hosted desktop services, sometimes referred to as Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) or cloud desktop services, are a relatively new business concept. Although its use is rapidly becoming more common, it can be difficult to understand exactly what hosted desktop services are and what advantages they can offer your business. This primer will help explain the basics of hosted desktop services and their potential advantages and pitfalls so that you can determine if this cloud-based service is a good fit for your particular business needs.
Hosted Desktops Explained
Hosted desktops are essentially workstation desktop instances that are hosted on an off-site server. Your employees can access these desktop instances from local machines through a web browser, specialized client, or thin client computer. Hosted desktops act like virtual machines in the sense that they are self-contained environments, but rather than being hosted on a local workstation they are stored and run remotely on dedicated servers.
The majority of hosted desktop services offer fully functional desktop environments, which means that there are rarely any specific limitations on the applications that can be installed on a hosted desktop. Your employees can make use of whatever software they are familiar with and customize their environments as they would with a local workstation.
Advantages of Hosted Desktop Services
Hosted desktop services allow you to effectively outsource a large portion of your company's IT infrastructure to a specialized provider. The hosted desktop provider will manage the workstation instances for you, freeing your own IT personnel to focus on whatever needs cannot be moved off-site. Many hosted desktop services will set up your desktop instances to whatever specifications are needed for your business, saving you significant time and money when spinning up new workstations.
Hosted desktops also offer advantages for your employees. Since the virtual desktop instances are stored remotely and accessed through a browser or client, your employees are not tied down to a physical workstation. If you are interested in moving to full or partial telecommuting, this can be an easy way to allow your employees to work remotely in a secure manner. The desktop instances they will have access to from a remote location will be the exact same desktop instances they have access to in the office.
This decoupling of desktop instances from physical machines also eases hardware transitions. If you need to replace an employee workstation or laptop, the employee's existing work environment will be accessible without a need for your company to transfer data between the old and new machines. Once the new hardware is ready, your employees will be able to immediately begin working on their existing desktop instance.
Are Hosted Desktops Right for Your Business?
Hosted desktops offer many advantages, but they are not without their downsides as well. Hosted desktop instances require a solid connection between your office (or your remote employee) and the hosted services. If latency is an issue for your particular business, then hosted desktops may not be the most appropriate option. This is less of an issue with today's reliable, high-speed connections, but it bears consideration when investigating hosted desktops.
In the end, whether or not hosted desktops are right for your business is a matter of preference and need. Hosted desktops are an excellent solution for encouraging a remote workforce or moving a portion of your IT infrastructure offsite.