What is hosted desktop and what are the benefits?

22nd February 2021

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Hosted desktop, hosted desktop solutions, virtual hosted desktop, cloud-based desktop, windows virtual desktop (wvd)… there are many names for it but what is it exactly?

 

Sebastian Payne, one of our technical apprentices,  discusses what motivated him to join our apprenticeship programme and work at Elite Group.  
 

What is hosted desktop and what are the benefits?

 

It seems like a simple enough question, however, there can be some confusion over what it all means and what the benefits are for businesses.

In essence, anything hosted means that your local system is connected to, and using software, from a location other than where you physically are. So, why would a business utilise a hosted desktop system?

Before we delve too far into Hosted Desktop, an understanding of the digital world we live in will give some perspective as to why there are major benefits.

There were 4.66 billion active internet users as of October 2020!

 

The digital Explosion

It took us more than 4.5 billion years to see the operation of the first personal computer and less than 100 to get to where we are! In fact, from what is considered the world’s first personal computer (the Kenbak-1, released in early 1971) it took just 31 years to reach 1 billion in 2002 and supposedly the 2 billion mark was reached just 5 years later in 2007. Unbelievably, in just the first 6 weeks of 2021, there have been over 25 million computers sold globally.

Across the globe there are now almost 7.9 billion people, with almost 4.66 billion active internet users as of October 2020, that encompasses around two-thirds of the global population. These are staggering figures and it is almost unfathomable to consider a world without digital technologies.

So, what does all that mean for platforms like hosted desktop?

It means the virtual realm is almost engrained in everything we do and is getting more complex and involved than ever. With that complexity comes the need for businesses to have improved control and service when it comes to their IT platforms. Whilst many larger companies may have internal IT management, they only account for a minuscule percentage of the businesses in the UK.

At the start of 2020, there were 5.94 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees), 99.3% of total business. SMEs (business with fewer than 250 employees) account for 99.9% of the business population (6.0 million businesses).

While IT is a necessity for any business, management and servicing can be inefficient and a headache. That’s why cloud-based (hosted) solutions are a godsend for SMEs. There is minimal need for any onsite technical help and the expenditure over time is more cost-effective.

 

The benefits

1 Investment

Going virtual is an investment, not a cost. Hosted desktop solutions are one of the best investments any company can make. Not only do they allow flexibility for expansion without extensive capital outlay, but they are also an investment for attracting employees. With the modern workforce looking for improved work-life balance virtual work solutions attract better staff.

‘A Global Talent Trends study found that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. No matter the industry, flexibility is incredibly important to employees and job seekers across the nation. Companies that offer employees flexibility in the form of telecommuting, flexible schedules and unlimited PTO help employees maintain a positive work-life balance. Flexibility has also been shown to reduce workplace stress, boost mental well-being and encourage productivity.’ Forbes.com

Cloud-based solutions also allow for less hardware and decreased costs associated with maintenance. The added benefit of this is also there’s no need for constant upgrades, be it hardware or software. Providers deploy and upgrade systems giving businesses added future-proofing without the need to maintain in house assets.

So, procuring a virtual solution has a multitude of benefits within one investment creating improved outcomes all round.

 

2 Remote Working

Remote working is the future whether it be a hybrid of office and home working or not. Companies that have empowered staff have seen increases in productivity and employee engagement. Many companies have seen improvements in productivity of 20% and more, not to mention the added benefits of employee work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.

 

‘83 per cent of workers in a global survey report said that the ability to work remotely at least some of the time would act as the clincher if they were deciding between two similar job offers’

 

God forbid we have another pandemic or similar, but should that happen, hosted desktop platforms allow for adaptability and rapid response for companies to seamlessly transition to remote working should the need arise. Cloud-based solutions, in any form, are a must to future proof businesses from a myriad of challenges.

 

3 Security

‘Unsurprisingly in the area of cybersecurity, 7 in 10 organisations are expecting to increase their financial investments in security technologies. Public cloud, infrastructure, AI and machine learning will also receive financial boosts in many organisations’ zdnet.com

Let’s face it security is one of the major challenges for businesses in the digital realm. Those that opt to maintain their own IT in house, face constant challenges. Deploying hosted desktop solutions and other cloud-based IT services get the benefit of large provider IT resources maintaining far greater security protocols than they would otherwise be able to afford in house.

‘In the UK more than 1,000 malware attacks happen per hour!’

Hosted desktop solutions come with built-in protection against viruses, ransomware and malware attacks that are under constant analysis, giving businesses far greater protection from cyber-attack. Virtual platforms maintain your applications and data with a more secure solution. The security features within these systems proactively detect threats and will take corrective action against viruses, ransomware and malware attacks.

Downplaying the risks associated with poor IT security can lead to devastating consequences, another good reason to invest in a hosted solution.

 

4 Continuity

Continuity is a major factor in customer experiences. At the end of the day, customers are the reason businesses exist and maintaining their experience is the number one driver in customer retention now. The continuity of delivery via hosted solutions provides for excellent customer experiences.

‘88% of companies now prioritise customer experience in their contact centres.’

Having the ability to maintain excellent customer experience via continuity on an anywhere-anytime system relieves the challenges for many companies.

 

5 Scalability

Simplifying the deployment and management of your infrastructure allows for improved productivity and efficiency. Cloud-based desktop platforms give you the ability to adapt swiftly and scale in any direction for improved cost efficiencies whilst preserving businesses competitiveness.

The ability to adapt, change and scale regards of geographic location is one of the major advantages within a hosted desktop platform. Given the recent events and the probability of anything similar happening in the future, the ability for businesses to react rapidly and or scale at speed is essential.

With an everchanging world and economies now under the influence of many factors, scaling up and down is key to improved business performance and flexibility.

 

Windows Hosted Desktop

Let’s use Windows Hosted desktop as an example of the benefits of a cloud-based solution.

Enable secure and productive remote work on any device.

Windows Virtual Desktop provides full Windows 10 and Windows Server desktop and application virtualisation on personal devices from any internet-connected location.

– Seamless integration with Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and Microsoft Teams helps end users be productive with the desktop experience they’re used to.

– Maintaining digital security, efficiency and productivity is key to many business success stories and one of the major ways to do this is via streamlining processes and engaging professionals for certain services, connectivity and IT are at the top of that list. IT for many businesses can become a nightmare, especially SMEs.

 

Reduce the costs of licensing and infrastructure.

– Use eligible Windows or Microsoft 365 licenses to access Windows Virtual Desktop and pay only for what you use.

– Maximise use of your virtual machines through the exclusive Windows 10 multisession capability, which enables multiple concurrent users.

 

Protect against outages to stay productive.

– Help keep your team running during outages by leveraging Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup technologies.

– Mitigate downtime and prepare for planned maintenance with personalized alerts and guidance through Azure Service Health.

 

Simplify IT management.

– Windows Virtual Desktop manages the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for you, so you can focus on users, apps, and data instead of hardware inventory and maintenance.

– Quickly and securely get your users up and running with limitless scale and full automation that you control based on your business needs.

 

Keep application and user data secure.

Easily apply the right access controls to users and devices with Azure Active Directory Conditional Access.

– Reduce vulnerabilities and help keep your virtual desktops secure by leveraging reverse connections and security solutions like Azure Firewall, Azure Sentinel, and Azure Security Centre.

Microsoft really does have all the bases covered, not only does the platform offer flexibility, security and efficiency, it integrates with a host of other applications seamlessly. Having access to creative tools such as Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and more allows your business to achieve great results. The ability to access numerous Microsoft Office tools on different devices allows your business and employees to work productively in a flexible manner which inevitably increases business profitability.

 

To Host or not to Host?

Maintaining digital security, efficiency and productivity is key to many business success stories and one of the major ways to do this is via streamlining processes and engaging professionals for certain services, connectivity and IT are at the top of that list. IT for many businesses can become a nightmare, especially SMEs and that’s when platforms like hosted desktop really add value.

The flexibility that hosted desktops solutions allow for businesses in terms of remote working and staff work-life balance really does allow you to ‘have your cake and eat it too’.

‘To host’ is the best way for any business to future proof and allow the flexibility needed to maintain productivity and efficiency. ‘Not to host’ can create a major set of challenges integrating into a business world where customer experience, scalability and data security can make or break you.

 

Elite Group is one of the UK’s leading unified communication providers, supplying reliable and professional IT and telecoms services to organisations seeking Business Mobile, Cloud, Networking, Connectivity, and Telephony solutions. 

 

For more information on how Elite Group can power your unified communication solutions, call us or request a quote today