Hosted Virtual Desktops: Why C-Levels Should Care about this Trending Technology

by Tim VanderMelC3

We find that most technology articles are written for IT people by IT people. Not this one. Our intended audience is the C-Suite executive that is looking to get a leg up on their competition. It’s an article for every CFO, CEO, COO, etc. that has ever stayed up at night worried about how to stay ahead of hungry start-ups or how to outmaneuver the 800 pound gorilla in your industry. Since we could spend forever on the many forms of cloud computing, we’re going to focus on one that can help your business in 2015 – hosted Virtual Desktop Interface (hVDI).

So what is hVDI and why should you care? hVDI is the hosting of your computer’s operating system by a remote server. Essentially, instead of having your computer run on a copy of, for instance, Windows 7 or Windows 8 stored on your computer, your computer runs based on an operating system hosted by a server sitting in a third party’s secure data center. You are presented an image of what a typical desktop looks like. Examples of this are http://www.navisite.com/services/cloud-desktop-services/navicloud-desktops and http://www.evolveip.net/virtual-desktop.

The information that is typically stored on your hard drive, in the hDVI solution, is also stored in that secure data center. You then connect to your operating system and hard drive info through an internet connection or private connection. At this point, your ability to access your ”virtual desktop” can be done from virtually any device using an internet connection. I’m sure that you’re asking yourself, “How could this possibly matter that much to me?” How does this give me a competitive edge on my competition? Read on.

This specific technology touches so many parts of your organization and we will break down those pieces and their effects on your organization.

  1. Disaster Recovery (DR)/Business Continuity(BC). Do you have a plan? What happens if a major fire happens? A flood? Or if electricity is cut off for an extended period of time? A hosted VDI solution allows you to deal with this effectively. Since the brains and information of your business are stored at a remote data center, all that’s needed to access that information is a log-in and password. In the event of a disaster, all of your employees can work with in the exact same capacity as long as they can find a device with internet connectivity. Without HVDI? You’re scrambling to run a business without ready access to information about every facet of your organization. The studies done have shown that 65% of business FAIL within one year of suffering a disaster. hVDI is an excellent component of a complete DR plan.
  2. Increase productivity. With hVDI, your employees have anytime access to their workplace desktop from virtually anywhere like they were sitting in front of a desktop computer at the office. This makes logging in and working from anywhere easier, thus typically providing a bump in productivity from your organization’s employees.
  3. Security.
    • Malware/Spyware/Viruses – Since your computers don’t have operating systems that are susceptible to malware, spyware, and viruses, there is a drastic reduction and sometimes complete elimination of having to deal with these issues. Since your operating systems are hosted in a data center by a third party, the technical staff at that hosting provider handles these types of issues. Have you ever dealt with a widespread virus issue? There aren’t too many other incidents that can halt productivity in a heartbeat like this.
    • Information security – hVDI being hosted at a reputable third party will typically provide multiple levels of state of the art security. Compare this to the average SMB whose single firewall is often neglected and provides a minimal amount of security. C-Level SMB executives, here’s a side note – if you don’t have an information security strategy, then PLAN on what your response is after a major security breach happens(because it’s coming).
  4. Solve the BYOD issue. BYOD issue stands for “Bring Your Own Device”. hVDI allows your employees the ability to use as any device at any time from work or home. Have people on your staff that like their Android Tablet? Or IPad? Or Mac? These people can enjoy a Windows experience on any of these devices just like they were at the office. Giving your workforce the ability to work from the device of their choice should A)reduce your expenditures for having to provide these devices and B)provide them with flexibility on where and when they work(The solving of the BYOD issue just might help you with your millennial workforce).
  5. Capex vs. Opex. This model of computing is very CapEx friendly as the management of these virtual desktops, an OpEx, is a majority of the expense in this environment.
  6. Extend the life of your computers and reduction in the cost of computers. In an hVDI environment, desktops can typically last 8 years because of the lack of horsepower needed to run hVDI. Most traditional desktops with an operating system will last around 3 to 4 years. So let’s do that math on 20 computers over an 8 year term.
    • 20 traditional computers x $1,000 apiece x 2(1 refresh done at the end of year 4) = $40,000
    • 20 barebones HVDI computers x $250 apiece = $5,000
  7. HR. No one on staff needs to provide desktop administration because that function is handled by your hVDI provider. Most hVDI providers also have a full contingent of experts on staff to assist in other technology matters, thus making them an excellent source for closely related IT projects. Bringing these talents in house can be extremely cost prohibitive. For more info, check out our blog: Cloud Computing, an HR Decision – http://www.go-c3.com/cloud-computing-an-hr-decision/
  8. OS versions, updates, and patches. Does your company have different computers with different versions of operating systems (Windows XP, 3, 7, 8, Vista)? This can be a difficult environment to manage. With hVDI, all computers are managed using the same operating system environment (unless you request otherwise). hVDI providers also provide the ongoing patches and updates needed for continual optimal operation. Lastly, will no longer have to worry about an old OS no longer being supported because your hVDI provider will be able to move to you newer OS (Windows XP, 3, etc.).
  9. Dealing with data theft. Since your data is no longer stored on the computers themselves, you are less prone to data theft. Going to let go of a disgruntled employee? Cut off their access to sensitive data in advance of the parting. Laptop get stolen at the airport? Simply delete the user name and password that allows that computer access to your corporate information.
  10. Information loss from computer crashes. Ever had an employee lose an entire computer’s worth of sensitive information from a hard drive crash? Worry no more since your corporate information doesn’t reside on that computer. Instead of paying IT professionals to scour the remains of a dead hard drive and scrambling to set up a new computer, give that user virtually any device on hand that can access the internet, and presto, you have a happy and productive user.
  11. Quick to set up new users. Just hired a superstar sales rep? Or just hired a remote worker? Instead of buying new equipment, staging it, and shipping it out, just give them a log-in and password and set them up as a hVDI user on their existing computer. This can be done in as little as 10 minutes.
  12. Compliance issues. Many hVDI solutions are inherently compliant for compliance matters such as HIPAA, PCI, and others. Worried about passing your audit? hVDI may be the easy ticket to providing quite a few audit checkmarks.

Utilizing this technology will make your organization more flexible, nimble, secure, and productive. We won’t say that HVDI is the one size fits all cure-all for all organizations. With this said, SMB organizations looking to do major computer refreshes, operating system refreshes (Moving to Windows 8?) and server refreshes should take a long look at this technology as the Total Cost of Ownership, ease of administration, and security make hVDI an enticing technology to bring your company’s technology up to date.