In a rapidly evolving, digitally driven global marketplace, businesses of all kinds face unprecedented challenges to productivity and profitability – especially now during COVID-19. Faced with issues such as budget constraints, remote accessibility, the demands of managing a diverse and far-flung workforce and the pressure to remain competitive, companies small and large are finding that the practices and processes of just a few years ago are now failing to meet the needs of this new business environment. The growing trend toward virtualization and cloud-based services offers businesses in all industries new ways to manage their computing needs more economically, efficiently and securely. Virtual desktop technology is one of these—a strategy for creating and remotely managing employee desktops for enhanced convenience, lower costs and improved productivity.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or Remote Desktop Protocol (VDI or RDP) technology is a virtual desktop solution that hosts users’ desktops remotely. This VD model stores individual desktop configurations on a separate server either in the company’s own datacenter or one operated remotely by a third party. In this way, user desktops can be accessed from various places on various devices, without the limitations of a single, self-contained desktop computer.
The desktop’s operating system, applications and data are separated from the hardware and stored alongside others on a single server using hypervisor virtualization technology to create a number of individual “virtual machines.” Each of these retains the unique configurations of a user’s full desktop, and apps and software can be changed or updated as needed. In a local network, servers are maintained by a company’s existing IT staff or by support staff at a third-party provider.
The Virtual Desktop: New Options for Business
In the traditional world of business computing, each workstation might be equipped with its own desktop computer, which in turn had its own desktop configuration to support the day-to-day work tasks of its users. While office computers could be connected to each other in a local network and to the Internet, each desktop on each computer remained separate, and the data and apps stored there remained there, not to be easily accessed by other users. That kind of hardware and software load often required the support of a fairly large staff of IT professionals tasked with maintaining the machines, software and data storage issues for the entire company.
But that kind of arrangement makes it difficult for employees to do work-related tasks from other locations or devices, and for people in different locations to conduct meaningful collaborations. Additionally, if a computer crashed, got lost or was stolen, the desktop and all its data went with it. The virtual desktop bypasses those concerns by placing desktop configurations in a centralized location, for more security and accessibility than conventional computing arrangements at lower overall costs to the company. Virtual desktop technology is available as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, running on dedicated servers, or in the cloud—a solution called Desktop as a Service.
What is Desktop as a Service?
Desktop as a Service, or DaaS, is a desktop located in the cloud. It’s an exclusively cloud-based version of the virtual desktop, which puts all content and functions of user desktops on remote servers that can be accessed through the Internet. For companies already using cloud services for some or all of a company’s computing needs, DaaS can be incorporated into an existing cloud structure, or it can be set up and managed separately by a dedicated DaaS provider.
Because it’s entirely cloud-based, DaaS eliminates the need for any local data centers or server management, and a variety of plans is available for customizing services to fit individual needs. DaaS allows users to separately manage individual desktops for differing needs, including access to cloud hosted Sage software or QuickBooks in the cloud.
Benefits for Better Business Practice in the Cloud
In either VDI or DaaS form, adopting a virtual desktop strategy can enhance a company’s business practices in several key ways. Along with company-specific benefits such as reduced IT costs and improved productivity, the virtual desktop can reduce waste and support sustainability, among others.
Virtual Desktops are Economical
For businesses struggling with budget constraints, virtual desktop technology can save money by eliminating the need for maintaining a large IT staff and eliminating costs related to installing and maintaining a large number of separate desktop configurations. Although VDI on a local network still requires the support of IT professionals who can maintain and manage the servers that host the company’s virtual desktops, the investment in IT remains lower than it would for an environment built around individual desktops on separate machines.
If a company opts for the completely cloud-based DaaS, those costs drop even more, since the cloud provider has the responsibility for maintaining remote servers hosting desktops and other aspects of a company’s computing needs.
Virtual Desktops Improve Productivity
Virtual desktop solutions boost productivity in several ways. Employees can access their desktops from anywhere using any device, so work tasks can be handled even when someone is away from their desk. With the appropriate permissions, others can access a desktop, too, so work can continue even if a particular user is absent from the job.
Virtual desktop technology also makes it easy to manage a remote and highly diverse workforce. Companies facing budget constraints may have to outsource aspects of the company’s operations to freelancers and independent contractors. On the other hand, a company may be expanding its reach into other areas of the country or the world, so that work must be coordinated among staffers in a variety of locations and time zones. In all these situations, virtual desktop technology that allows users to access their data and apps at any time from any device allows people to connect and collaborate wherever they are, so that projects can be completed faster and time can be used more efficiently.
Virtual Desktops Keep Data Secure
The virtual desktop, especially when hosted in the cloud on a dedicated server, can be particularly useful in industries that involve storing and using large amounts of personal data, such as healthcare and financial services. With a virtual desktop, users can access information such as patient records or the tax returns using cloud hosted QuickBooks as needed, without keeping it on a local machine where it could be lost or compromised. The virtual desktop also allows companies to install company-wide security precautions on all desktops from a centralized location, rather than addressing these issues on each individual computer.
Virtual Desktops Lower Environmental Impacts
Virtualization and cloud technologies of all kinds can help companies lower the environmental impact of doing business. Virtual desktops in all configurations can reduce the need for locally installed hardware and software, and centralized hosting can lower energy expenditures, too, with benefits not only for profits, but also for conserving energy overall. With no local infrastructure needed, cloud-based DaaS can have an even greater impact.
Should My Business Use a Virtual Desktop Hosted in the Cloud?
We think so – RDP and VDI technology offer numerous benefits to businesses from extensive server customization in dedicated environments and improved remote accessibility to data security and business scalability. However, ultimately the decision is up to you based on what your company needs and goals are.
If you’re interested in learning more about how moving to the cloud can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our knowledgable cloud hosting specialists today: 888-244-6559.