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Desktops from the Cloud

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December 11, 2013
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It seems you can get anything delivered from the cloud these days ─ email, database, storage, software and even desktops.  But don’t consider these to be passing fads. Cloud-delivered desktops, in particular, can offer significant benefits to you and your employees.

Desktop-to-Device

Cloud-delivered desktops are virtual desktops. (To understand how desktop virtualization works, check out the information here.)  Many people equate them with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), in which desktop environments are hosted on remote servers. While VDI offers a number of benefits, it requires companies to invest in and manage all aspects of the solution, including the infrastructure.

Cloud-delivered desktops offer a cost-effective alternative to VDI.  They are delivered as a managed service for a monthly fee, which covers all of the servers, networking, patching, anti-virus and licensing. All that is required are the devices where the desktops will reside and an Internet connection. These devices can be smartphones, laptops, tablets or traditional computer desktops.

The service provider handles everything else, including the back-end responsibilities of data storage, backup, security, licensing and upgrades. There is no investment required in infrastructure and no in-house expertise required for implementation and management.

The Nuts and Bolts of Desktops

While the specifics of cloud-delivered desktops vary from one service provider to another, the general concept works like this:  each user’s personal data is copied to and from the virtual desktop during logon/logoff and access to the desktop is independent of the device, location and network. The desktops run from a remote data center, but are connected to your corporate IT environment through a private network connection. Access to the desktops is based on your existing Active Directory.

Desktop management, updating and deployment are all configurable from one place, and the desktops can be configured with their complete application sets and customized per your corporate policies.

Rapid provisioning allows delivery of consistent user applications in minutes, allowing your IT staff to focus on core business rather than on supporting desktops ─and ensuring that your users always have access to the latest applications and software upgrades. You could literally onboard a whole enterprise in days, eliminating a number of processes and cutting the CapEx investment.  Imagine the benefits of a service like this for universities that have to re-provision scores of computer labs every semester, or for companies that have to provide seasonal employees with computer access.

Powered by Flexibility

The technology behind cloud-delivered desktops has advanced to the point where desktops can be provisioned to users on any device, anywhere and anytime. This enables you to deliver enterprise-grade virtual computing environments to your employees, whether they are working on personal or company-owned tablets, conventional desktops, smartphones or laptops.

This also means your employees can access their desktops from any device they happen to be using with same security and productivity available from their offices. They can even start working on one device and finish from another, helping to eliminate potential downtime and re-work and enabling greater productivity.

The ubiquity of the service also means your employees can access their desktops from any location, including their homes, hotels, airports and coffee shops. This can help them to be more productive on the road. Because no VPN is required but the security is still there, it makes work-from-home and telecommuting arrangements easier.

Think about the potential benefits if weather event or any number of other issues kept your employees from getting to work.

Safe and Secure

Despite the benefits offered by cloud-delivered desktops, chances are you may have security and compliance concerns. Fortunately, some draw on the security controls of their data centers, which provide the foundation of their solutions. If you are considering virtual desktops provided by a third-party company, look for providers that have data centers that meet various regulatory demands and certification requirements, including SSAE 16, PCI DSS and HIPAA/HITECH.

Keep in mind that cloud-delivered desktop solutions also offer some security benefits not available with conventional desktop deployment.  Because these solutions put desktops in full control by your IT staff, if a device is lost or stolen, the virtual desktop can be killed. The thieves get nothing; nor does an unscrupulous person who finds the stolen device.

Cloud Delivery Starts Now

With trends like bring your own device (BYOD) changing the way we work, cloud-delivered desktops offer a number of benefits to ease the burden on IT staffs, reduce security concerns associated with lost or stolen devices and much more.

To learn about Peak 10’s Cloud-delivered desktop service, visit http://www.peak10.com/cloud/cloud-delivered-desktops.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest