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 virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). A hosted desktop can operate independently, running its own operating system and applications, while others are managed from the server.
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Hosted desktops allow companies to run virtual machines on desktop computers. Since applications and data stay in the datacenter, there are several benefits in the areas of security and control.
- Simple access: Staff can access all they need in a centralized server.
- Streamlined IT management: With hosted desktops, 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.
- Greater control: Since servers for virtual desktop infrastructure are usually located on-premises, they give IT more control over data.
- Scalability: Hosted desktops can help make businesses more agile since they can simply add more virtual machines for testing or for use by contractors.
Some the most common use cases for hosted desktops include:
- BYOD workplaces: Organizations have historically preferred that employees use specific devices, such as company-owned laptops, to prevent security risks. But as more companies move toward Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the era of hybrid work, many are turning to hosted desktops to provide secure access at the application level.
- Call centers: Call centers have many workers using the same tools, though they may frequently change workstations. With hosted desktops, agents can access all the information and tools they need in a central system regardless of workstation. This helps make the call center more efficient.
- Third-party vendors and contractors: Companies that outsource projects usually have two choices: provide each individual with a company laptop, or manage multiple environments across contractors. A hosted desktop allows contractors to access the company’s system from their own devices.
- Graphics-intensive workplaces: Companies that use graphic-intensive applications consume a lot of computing 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 these apps.
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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. IT has to manage all permissions, security, and collaboration for every user. Hosted desktops also are limited when it comes to mobile devices. A hosted desktop may not display properly on the small mobile screen, or it may appear distorted.
A cloud desktop is a virtual desktop that’s hosted in a cloud environment. In this setup, the hardware is simply a means of accessing a cloud-based server for all requirements. Desktop as a service (DaaS) is the term used to describe these cloud desktop services.
With the growing popularity of the cloud, more companies are adopting cloud desktop models. In the VDI, the client needs to invest in the network, computer infrastructure, and storage. In contrast, cloud service providers handle the infrastructure and management costs for 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.
Hosted desktop pros
- 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: Some government regulations require data to be stored on an organization’s physical premises; VDI helps organizations comply.
Hosted desktop cons
- 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.
- Anytime, anywhere access: DaaS allows users to perform their tasks from anywhere.
- Ease of use: DaaS has built-in end-user functionality, which makes it easy to customize for the user.
- Increased productivity: Allowing employees to access the system remotely helps increase remote worker productivity. They can keep up with projects and maintain the pace of work.
- Reduced costs: DaaS doesn’t require extra hardware, which saves maintenance and infrastructure costs. It also eliminates the need to purchase a software license for each device. And since cloud services are generally billed on a subscription basis, it helps keep costs under control.
- No specialized management: DaaS is easy to manage because most network responsibilities are outsourced. IT managers are free to focus on the core business.
- Scalability: It’s easier and less expensive to add a new user or application to a DaaS platform than to add a new virtual machine.
- Connectivity issues: As with any cloud service, reliability depends on strong connectivity. However, all major cloud providers have a 99.99+% uptime rate.
Many businesses are migrating to cloud environments, for a variety of 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 cloud provider.
Lower CAPEX: Most cloud providers offer a pay-as-you-go model. This significantly reduces capital expenditures, and there are no hardware costs.
Better collaboration: With a centralized digital workspace, employees can collaborate from anywhere and work on the same projects simultaneously. They can access applications and data from any device and location, without worrying about security since everything is contained inside the virtual workspace.
24/7 support: Cloud services are always at work and don’t take vacations or weekends. Cloud providers usually offer support service 24/7, via email ticket, chat, or phone.
Security: Since all the data is stored off-site in the cloud, data and operations are kept safe.
A better user experience: Cloud services offer a lower learning curve and are typically user-oriented.
Companies have learned that operations cannot stop when employees aren’t able to come to the office. Similarly, people expect to access their work remotely from any device and location. Yet many organizations would like to virtualize applications and desktops but are turned off by the high cost of infrastructure required. Desktop as a service solutions 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.