What is Hosted Desktop? When to Move to a Cloud Desktop

What is a hosted desktop?

A hosted desktop is a client-user environment in which a desktop computer (also called a thick client) accesses data on a remote server using a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). A hosted desktop can operate independently, running its own operating system and many applications, while others are managed from the server.

Hosted desktops improve the efficiency of the IT infrastructure while simplifying users’ work.

Hosted Desktop Benefits

The Virtual Desktop environment allows companies to run virtual machines on desktop computers. Since the applications and data stay in the data center, there are several benefits in terms of security and control.

  • Simplifies work: Staff can access all they need in a centralized server.
  • Simplifies IT management: Everything is managed in one central location. New applications can be added to the central desktop instead of needing to be installed in each new device.
  • Provides more control: Since servers for virtual desktop infrastructures are usually located on-premises, they give more control over the data. In some cases, this may be required by government regulations.
  • Enhances scalability: Hosted desktops can help make businesses more agile since they can simply add more virtual machines for testing or for use by contractors.

Use Cases

A wide array of companies can benefit from using a hosted desktop, from call centers to graphics-intensive applications. Below are the most common use cases.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workplaces

This is perhaps the most common use for a hosted desktop or VDI. Many organizations prefer that employees use specific devices, such as company-owned laptops, to prevent security risks because controlling employees’ devices is virtually impossible. A hosted desktop gives employees the ability to connect to the enterprise via a separate application from their own devices. This keeps them separate from the company’s systems.

Call Centers

Call centers are another typical case for hosted desktops. They usually have many workers using the same tools, though they may frequently change workstations. With a VDI, agents can access the information and tools they need in a central system, regardless of the workstation. This helps to make the call center more efficient.

Third-party and contractor access

Contractors and partners bring a challenge similar to BYOD scenarios. Companies that outsource projects usually have two choices: provide contractors with a company laptop, or manage the multiple environments of all the contractors. A hosted desktop allows contractors to access the company’s system from their own devices.

Data-heavy applications benefit from virtualization

Companies that use graphic-intensive applications consume a lot of computer power, which is expensive and puts pressure on business systems. Hosted desktops offer the virtualization needed to easily share data while enhancing the performance power of graphic-intensive applications.

Hosted Desktop Limitations

While hosted desktops offer many benefits, there are limitations. VDIs are usually on-premises, which require investments in hardware and infrastructure. In addition, more specialized IT management is required. The IT department has to manage all permissions, security, and collaboration for every user. 

Hosted desktops also are limited regarding mobile devices. A hosted desktop may not display properly on the small mobile screen, or it may appear distorted.

What is a cloud desktop?

Desktop hosting has come a long way since the advent of on-premises virtual desktops. With the growing popularity of the cloud, more companies are adopting cloud desktop models. Migrating from a hosted desktop to a cloud desktop offers benefits such as scalability, flexibility, and reduced costs.

A cloud desktop is a virtual desktop that is hosted in a cloud environment. In this setup, the hardware is simply a means of accessing a cloud-based server for all requirements. DaaS (Desktop as a Service) is the term used to describe these cloud desktop services.

The top feature of DaaS is that it allows access anytime, anywhere, and from any device. In addition, DaaS is responsive to mobile devices by default.

How can you use Desktop as a Service?

DaaS allows companies to use cloud-based virtual desktops. Desktop as a service can be implemented for the same use cases as VDI while offering the additional advantage of providing all access and storage in the cloud.

DaaS has proved successful in many scenarios:

  • Software developers: Developers can avoid having to switch between different computers and operating systems by using a DaaS system. It allows them to easily switch between virtual desktops, accelerating production and improving quality assurance.
  • Healthcare providers: With desktop as a service, doctors and nurses can access patient data, lab results, and applications from any computer in the hospital. Because all data is stored on a HIPAA-certified cloud, there is a reduced risk of a data breach.
  • University labs: Students, teachers, and assistants can connect to their work from anywhere, be it from a laptop or desktop in the computer lab.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: A DaaS model helps merging companies avoid the hassle of having to deploy new equipment. The new staff can continue using their existing devices to connect to the new applications.

Hosted Desktops vs Cloud Desktops

With DaaS, the backend of the VDI is hosted by a third-party cloud provider, while the DaaS provider streams the desktops to the end-user devices.

In the VDI, the client needs to invest in the network, computer infrastructure, and storage. In DaaS, the cloud service providers handle the infrastructure and management costs. Below we present the pros and cons of each model.

Hosted desktops pros and cons


  • More control over hardware, software, and data: Since the network is hosted on-premises, the company has almost full control over the data and infrastructure.
  • Protection of data in physical premises as required by government regulations: Some regulations require data to be stored on an organization’s physical premises; a VDI helps companies under those circumstances comply.


  • Requires specialized management: The need for more on-site IT staff increases overhead costs.
  • High infrastructure costs:  The company needs to invest in installing hardware and software architecture to support desktop virtualization.
  • Difficult to use (two desktops or two taskbars): Users need to switch between the desktop that shows the files they have open online and another that shows the files they have open locally.
  • Doesn’t adapt easily to mobile devices: App interfaces are often designed for desktop, and not mobile devices.

Desktop as a Service pros and cons


  • Access anytime, anywhere: DaaS allows users to perform their tasks from anywhere.
  • Easy to use: DaaS has built-in end-user functionality, which makes it easy to customize for the user.
  • Remote access increases productivity: Allowing employees to access the system remotely helps increase the productivity of remote workers. They can keep up with projects and maintain the pace of work.
  • Reduced maintenance and infrastructure costs: DaaS doesn’t require extra hardware, which saves costs. It also eliminates the need to purchase a software license for each device. Finally, since cloud services are generally billed on a subscription basis, it helps keep costs under control.
  • Doesn’t require specialized management: The system is easy to manage because most network responsibilities are outsourced. IT managers are free to focus on the core business.
  • Easily scalable: It is easier and less expensive to add a new user or application to a DaaS platform than to add a new virtual machine. Therefore, it easily grows with the business.


  • Connectivity issues can undermine productivity: As with any cloud service, reliability depends on strong connectivity. However, all major cloud providers have a 99.99+% uptime rate.

Benefits of Moving to a Cloud Desktop Environment

Unlike having to download every software package onto a server, cloud computing allows you to use the same services online from anywhere. Convenience is one of the drivers of the popularity of cloud computing services.

Cloud computing is becoming so popular that according to Forbes, 32% of IT budgets will be dedicated to cloud computing.

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Why are so many businesses migrating to cloud environments? Here are some reasons:

Access to enterprise-class technology: Before the cloud, a company that wanted access to high-end software had to pay for an enterprise solution. That could be very expensive for small and medium-sized businesses. The cloud provides access to solutions at the enterprise level for a fraction of the cost.

Flexibility and scalability: Cloud computing is ideal for companies that have fluctuating demand. Companies can easily scale cloud capacity up or down according to their needs.

Faster disaster recovery: Since everything is stored in the cloud, it is easy to access and restore services after a disaster. In most cases, recovering from a disaster can take minutes or hours instead of days.

Automated updates: The cloud allows you to set up automatic backups and updates. In addition, there’s no need to worry about wasting time on system maintenance, since this is taken care of by the provider.

Lower CAPEX: Most cloud providers offer a pay-as-you-go model. This significantly reduces CAPEX needs, and there are no hardware costs.

Better collaboration: Employees can collaborate from anywhere. The centralized workspace also lets team members work on the same projects simultaneously.

Virtual workspaces: Employees can access a workspace to the cloud from any device, at any time, from anywhere, without worrying about security. Everything is contained inside the virtual workspace.

Support 24/7: Cloud services work 24/7 and don’t take vacations or weekends. Cloud providers usually provide support service 24/7, via email ticket, chat, or phone.

Cross-device applications: Switching from a mobile to a laptop is possible if all the work is in the cloud.

Security: Since all the data is stored in the cloud, off-site, the data and operations are kept safe.

Better user experience: Cloud services offer a lower learning curve and are typically user-oriented.

Explore the Benefits of a Cloud Desktop with Citrix

Companies have learned that their operations cannot stop when employees cannot come to the office. Similarly, people expect to access their work remotely from any device and location. That makes traditional desktop environments challenging to work with.

Many companies would like to virtualize applications and desktops but are turned off by the high cost of infrastructure required. Desktop as a Service offers an affordable, fast, and secure virtualization solution. Companies that want the advantages of a VDI but with much simpler management and a lower cost can benefit from Citrix DaaS services. It offers the scalability, flexibility, and business continuity that only the cloud provides with the assurance offered of working with a Microsoft global partner.

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