Cloud desktops - also known as virtual desktops, hosted desktops, or Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) - virtualise everything that loads when the user powers up a PC. It presents their whole computer, set up how they need it, on their preferred device.
Organisations usually purchase licenses for virtual desktops hosted by a vendor, and employees can log into their virtual desktop from a device of their choosing, making remote working a more viable option.
Although the principles of providing a desktop experience remotely are similar, there are differences between cloud desktops and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI is served through on-premise servers, with the infrastructure and deployment managed by internal IT teams. VDI has much higher upfront costs as it requires an investment in the servers and storage needed, as well as ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs.
Business benefits of cloud desktops
Like most cloud services, there is little or no on-premises infrastructure that a business has to invest in to get started with cloud desktops, and there's no costly hardware to maintain. The as-a-service model also means that costs are usually on a subscription model, making them predictable and easier to manage.
Collaboration and file sharing are another benefit to businesses. Cloud desktops are a step further than cloud file sharing applications, in that the entire interface is stored and delivered through the cloud rather than just files, but it brings the same collaboration benefits that many file-sharing services also deliver.
Having a centralised backup of files and data is another benefit of cloud desktops, making disaster recovery much faster through remote back-up. For business use, it's important to choose a service that is strong on security and collaboration, and is designed for intensive business use.
Cloud desktops can be a challenge if applications are resource-intensive and internet connection is patchy. Many cloud desktops also have an option to run offline and work even if there's no internet connection, but this may not meet the needs of every business.
Flexibility and scalability are two major benefits of cloud desktops, as they allow businesses, whether large or small, to grow at their own pace, adding and taking away licenses as they're required. It's also much more straightforward to roll out updates for software or add new applications, without having to worry about updates and security fixes on individual machines.
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