6.1 Hosted Desktops
A hosted desktop is a virtual product rooted within the larger cloud-computing spectrum of services, it is usually provided via a mixture of online technologies such as hardware virtualisation. The user’s desktop is hosted in the service provider’s secure data centre using resilient connections to the Internet.
6.2 Benefits of a Hosted Desktop
A hosted desktop removes the need to buy expensive servers which can cost upwards of £10,000. By taking away initial upfront costs like this, a hosted desktop, which is usually provided at a fixed monthly price for easy budgeting, allows savings to be made and resources to be focussed elsewhere. Extra investment in the form of IT support staff and technical support contracts are also unnecessary with a hosted desktop as it is completely managed and sustained by the provider.
If a business held and managed its own servers and support, then during times of growth significant changes would have to be made, which can be expensive and require a high level of involvement and management. With a hosted desktop, the service provided can be scaled up or down very easily and without disruption or continued input from the business, making a hosted desktop useful for companies during sustained periods of business growth.
On-site servers are a constant drain on business resources, and a massive cause of energy consumption. By reducing the number of machines used on-site, and by using the most innovative and energy saving equipment, a hosted desktop can reduce a business’ carbon emissions by more than 30 per cent.
Flexibility and Productivity
A hosted desktop is extremely flexible. It allows employees to work from anywhere in the world and at any time, providing more opportunities for productivity as staff can work from home, removing themselves from day-to-day office distractions.
6.3 Disadvantages of a Hosted Desktop
A potential risk of choosing the wrong hosted desktop provider is the limited control that comes as a by-product of the service. Because everything is managed externally, if something goes wrong businesses have to go through their provider to solve the issue. It is often wise for businesses to look into a providers service level agreements, which could guarantee quick response time and fast repairs.
So, because of the limited in-house control of a hosted desktop, if the wrong provider is chosen, they could become overwhelmed with requests for help, or have an awkward queuing system and prolong the amount of time a business is offline. Additionally, if an organisation’s internet fails, employees will not be able to access their desktops or files, which are hosted using the internet. Hosted desktops can still be run on phone or tablet 3G and 4G networks however.
Most hosted desktop providers will offer low storage capacities as standard, and demand high costs for additional storage or if storage limits are exceeded, so selecting a provider that offers high storage as standard is crucial. A business using a hosted desktop service must still allocate data storage wisely.
6.4 Business Requirements to Support a Hosted Desktop
There are many types of business in a wide range of industries that can benefit from a hosted desktop. All a business requires to use a hosted desktop is an internet connection and an internet enabled device.
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6.5 What types of Business can Benefit from using a Hosted desktop?
It is typically expensive and complex to have onsite servers, particularly for a business that would require multiple configurations for each franchise. By using a hosted desktop service, there would be no capital server costs, which would be held at the provider’s data centre, giving one place for business files to be consolidated and a central foundation for collaborative working. Hosted desktops can also reduce the security risk of storing and sending data on CDs or USBs, as data can be compromised if these are misplaced or stolen. The service can also be scaled up or down to meet the needs of a business during franchise openings and closures.
Similarly with franchises, multi-site organisations do not need to wait for employees to send files to each other to work collaboratively, as data is stored in a central location that can be accessed by any authorised employee. Staff can also access their files from anywhere, no matter which site they are working from as long as they have an internet connection.
In the healthcare industry, the confidentiality of patients is paramount. With a hosted desktop product, files can be locked down and only authorised employees can gain access to them, completely removing the likelihood of a data breach. Furthermore, because hosted desktops use the most innovative security measures, healthcare organisations can benefit as staff tend to work from multiple locations or visit homes, and are at risk from unsecure internet and server connections. Staff that go to the homes of patients have the bonus of not needing to take bundles of paperwork on visits, they can access their patient files on-site from their internet connected devices.
Field sales staff are rarely in the office, often meaning they rely on their mobile and portable devices to reach important files. With a hosted desktop service, staff would not have to worry about work being saved on the device, they would be able to access all of their files by logging on. Additionally, some service providers will allow for shared and personal data storage as standard, meaning that if the proper provider is selected, field sales staff can use their personal storage allowance for their own projects and business storage for collaborative projects. The typically fast-paced churn of sales staff also means that a business may wish to lock down files and restrict access, ensuring disgruntled ex or unauthorised employees cannot use certain files.
Similarly with healthcare, client confidentiality and data security are of the utmost importance in the legal sector. Some hosted desktop providers hold data in UK data centres, meaning client data never crosses borders into a country where data protection laws might not be as strict, so ensuring the best provider is chosen is critical to data security. Because data is never stored on devices, instead being secured at a high-security data centre, there is no risk of data theft if devices are lost or stolen, and regular backups guarantee that data is never breached.
Ideal for accountancy firms, migrating key accounting software such as SAGE, Digita, CCH, and IRCS is easy with a hosted desktop, ensuring that firms can work with familiar and up-to-date software without having to perform upgrades. Files are also guarded by the most secure firewalls which prevent access to sensitive financial client data.
6.6 Hosted Desktop for Small Business
A hosted desktop can bring many benefits to small businesses. By removing the need to invest in an IT infrastructure, businesses can focus money elsewhere and avoid hefty start-up capital costs. The scalability of hosted desktops also make them ideal for small businesses that grow rapidly. The service can easily be increased to handle business growth, and because data is hosted in a data centre small businesses do not have to worry about the logistics of moving servers to new sites. Hosted desktops also provide security. Small businesses often launch with a few computers and laptops, which store files locally on the devices themselves. This causes issues from the off because files are not backed up, so if devices are damaged, lost or stolen, then documents archived on that device can be hacked into.
6.7 Hosted Desktop for Large Business
Because large businesses are constantly on the go and employees need instant access to files, a hosted desktop can be utilised as a central point of data storage. This gives staff the access they require without waiting for people to share files, making it the ultimate tool for collaborative working. Additionally, large businesses may have a lot of staff that work remotely or from multiple locations, and they do not have to worry about how employees are using personal devices with a hosted desktop, which stores files at a data centre and not locally. Hosted desktops can also provide large corporates with tiered security, enabling them to lock down files based on department or company hierarchy.
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