Mobilizing the workforce has been a hot topic lately, especially with improvements in mobile technology and the growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. However, while many people focus on the benefits and challenges of integrating a wide variety of devices into the workplace, fewer are discussing solutions for those wanting to use those same devices elsewhere. After all, working from home doesn’t just mean accessing emails on your phone. Employees want full access to shared files and applications wherever they find themselves, just as if they were in the office.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Enter Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Originally coined by VMware Inc., VDI means hosting an operating system within a virtual machine, while still allowing access via remote devices. In a practical sense, employees can remotely access their desktops, including applications, network drives, shared folders and even network printers, from their homes, the library or a plane over the Atlantic.
VDI offers a number of benefits over traditional infrastructure. For one, as alluded to earlier, it offers the ability to access a desktop remotely. With many people working all over the world, this service allows people to switch between multiple devices while maintaining a seamless transition. A good example could be a journalist. While covering a story, he or she could be be taking pictures and recording interviews on his or her smartphone while on the scene. Afterwards, while writing the feature or packaging the story, the reporter may transition to a laptop in the news van. Even though the reporter was using different devices, he or she would be connected to the virtual desktop, allowing all the documents to be stored in one area. A VDI creates a seamless experience, meaning you can handoff projects between devices because you’re continuing to access the same desktop.
VDIs also significantly lightens the burden often placed on the shoulders of IT. Normally if there is a software problem, IT will have to go to the infected machines, and troubleshoot on that device. However, with VDI, because it’s controlled centrally, staff can fix the problem on the virtual end, without having to chase down every endpoint user.
Desktop as a Service
However, one downside to the VDI approach is the heavy upfront cost. While an effective means of simplifying mobile access to desktop applications, it still requires the purchasing and managing of a centralized VDI in the data center or private cloud.
In an effort to overcome these initial costs, many companies are now turning to Desktop as a Service (DaaS) as a solution. Organizations can now pay a cloud provider to host and manage the VDI, including desktop images, data storage, backup, security and upgrades. DaaS was originally named and patented by the U.S. company Desktone, which partnered with Dell to become a direct supplier of virtual desktops. However, Dell isn’t the only one occupying this space. Other companies like Amazon Web Services and VMware offer similar services.
DaaS takes cloud computing to the next level. While offering all the benefits of VDI, it goes a step further by including the advantages that come from migrating to the cloud, like flexibility, scalability and security. In addition, it helps transfer the technical difficulty away from the organization to the provider, which has the expertise to maximize the potential and minimize the risks of the service. The question of what is cloud computing no longer has to be something only people in the know understand. Thanks to Daas everyone can have access to the cloud.
Daas offers benefits for all businesses, but for smaller businesses in particular. Even with limited IT resources, like staff or budget, smaller organizations can have access to cloud technology and quality performance that’s typically reserved for larger enterprise businesses. DaaS allows them to maximize the effectiveness of their IT staff, because the company has outsourced desktop services, and no longer has to worry about licensing, patching and updates. Instead, they can turn their attention towards other areas, saving money for more central functions of the business.