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The remote desktop – hosted or virtual?

10 August 2021      
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The remote desktop hosted or virtual

At home, on the train, in a car in a layby, someone is tapping away at their laptop or tablet keyboard. Do you imagine they know or care whether they are using a hosted desktop or a virtual desktop infrastructure? And if they did, do you think they could tell?  

To the end-user, the difference between the two is essentially non-existent. But to the person who has to make cost-effective, productivity- and security-conscious decisions about their business I.T., the virtual desktop infrastructure looks very different from its hosted equivalent.

The clue to the difference is in the names. At a party, in a hotel or anywhere else there’s a host, a good one will make sure everything runs smoothly, so their guests can get on with whatever they came for.

A good hosted desktop does the same.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, in brief

Just like a Hosted Desktop, a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure provides end-users with remote desktops, with all the benefits that implies. That means the convenience of remote working with a familiar desktop interface, and easy access to applications, software, documents, files and data. In any location, on any device.

So, on the face of it (or on the keyboard and screen of it) there’s nothing to separate the two solutions.

However, if you also want a smaller initial investment, a lower I.T. administration burden, and increased security, then the differences become more obvious.

The differences result from the way the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is set up, compared with the way a Hosted Desktop operates.

A VDI is essentially an in-house solution. It relies on in-house infrastructure. It demands an in-house data centre (servers, hardware and software). Which means it needs in-house I.T. experts to manage and maintain them. Or you can use a third-party external I.T. company to handle the management and maintenance – but the cost of the resource remains.

Those are the downsides.

On the upside, some users believe that keeping everything in-house is actually a benefit of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. The business retains complete control of every aspect of its IT solution.

That’s true.  But inevitably, with control comes responsibility and cost. Only you can decide which one outweighs the other for your business’ needs.

The hosted desktop difference

If that’s what a VDI looks like, then how does it differ from a hosted desktop? Essentially, the negatives of a virtual desktop infrastructure are the positives of a hosted desktop.

The VDI demands a sizeable upfront investment in on-site hardware and software – requiring businesses to invest in their own datacentre. A hosted desktop solution doesn’t. Instead, it allows users to make use of the datacentre hardware of the hosting company. Hardware which will be cutting-edge, enterprise-grade, and always expertly maintained for maximum uptime and reliability.

Of course, because you will have no in-house infrastructure for your hosted desktop, you’ll also have no need for an in-house I.T. team to manage and maintain it. So that’s another saving with the hosted desktop solution.

And while a VDI will have some security, few organisations can afford the cost of setting-up their own physical and cybersecurity at a level to match that of a hosted desktop. Whether physical or cyber, the hosted desktop provider will have the strongest security measures in place and, as a hosted desktop user, your business’ data will automatically benefit.

A growing problem, solved

Which remote desktop solution to choose is a decision to be made here and now. But the consequences will be felt far into the future.

Choosing a VDI means spending substantially to achieve the scale of infrastructure to suit your current circumstances. You’ll also certainly want to build-in a small margin for growth. But when your business grows further your VDI will have to grow too, to meet user demand. That means more cost, and a time lag between the growth in demand and the readiness of the infrastructure to cope with it.

Choose a hosted desktop and, firstly, the upfront cost is lower. Most hosted services are run on a subscription basis. Secondly, you can be sure that whether your business has five of five hundred end-users, the hosted desktop solution will fit exactly. You won’t pay for capacity you don’t need, and you won’t be struggling to get users onto the network.

Lastly, when your business thrives and suddenly you want a thousand new users to have desktop access, you can do it. Almost instantly. With the hosted desktop solution, scalability – up or down – is built-in. So, there’s never any wasted capacity, cost, or time.

Control freaks welcome

Depending on the industry sector, there’s nothing freakish about wanting complete control of I.T. In certain areas of finance and law, for example, it’s obligatory. But for most businesses in most sectors, the value of complete control provided by a VDI is far outweighed by the infrastructure set-up, management and maintenance cost and burdens.

There is a partial loss of control when data moves off-site to the cloud. But for most businesses, that’s more than made up for by:

  • low infrastructure costs
  • high levels of physical and cybersecurity
  • professional I.T. management and maintenance
  • faster implementation
  • easy scalability.

Many businesses are already fully convinced of the value of a remote desktop solution. If you are one of them, then all you need to do now is decide how you want it to be provided.

By you and your VDI: with all the infrastructure, financial, administrative and resource burdens that involves? Or by a hosted desktop organisation – with all the cost-savings, flexibility, scalability and security that guarantees?