How Small Businesses Can Use Cloud-Based Virtual Desktops

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Many bootstrapped startups do not have the budgets to bring on dedicated IT experts who can build out infrastructure and provide immediate solutions to end users. Small businesses must simplify both hardware and software costs in order to maximize profitability. One of the more progressive options is to publish virtual desktops in the cloud that are securely available to authorized devices and users. The virtual desktop approach gives small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) control over their environment, while reducing labor overhead and hardware expenses. In brief, with a virtual desktop, what you see on your screen is not on your computer, but in the cloud.

The top benefit for small businesses is the pay-as-you-go usage model associated with cloud virtual desktops. When more end users join the small business, more virtual desktops can be created for a nominal fee. Cloud-based virtual desktop plans and features can be tailored to the end-users' needs.

You should note the difference between virtual desktops and virtual applications. Some SMBs do not need full desktops because they only use some applications for their daily job functions. By comparing virtual application delivery with fully fledged virtual desktops, SMBs might be able to garner even bigger savings for SMBs: Applications use less server resources whereas full desktops use more server resources. Since you only pay for what you use in the cloud, hosting applications individually using suites such as RemoteApp and Citrix XenApp may be more beneficial to you than the model of delivering a fully fledged desktop environment.

If you are building out your own virtual desktop service in the cloud, instructions are available from websites such as Microsoft Technet that instruct you on how to build your own cloud-based virtual desktop environment. The upside of this approach is the immediate cost savings, because you are not paying a managed service provider a fee to service your virtual desktop farm. The downside is that you must brush up on your Windows Server skills in order to manage this farm yourself—or engage someone to help you.

If you decide to buy the services of a cloud-based virtual desktop provider, you will likely pay a little more but you will have the benefits of having experts available to help you should you encounter an issue that is not resolved by self-service. Each approach reduces the need for high-cost, onsite IT staff. Small business executives should consider virtual desktops for their environments because of the scalability, cost, and flexibility the model provides.

Think about the immediate benefits of a virtual desktop environment for your small business. All virtual desktop farms are device-agnostic. In English, this means that end users can bring their own devices such as a Windows laptop from home or an Apple iPad and connect directly into your cloud from anywhere in the world. Since your company's virtual desktops will be hosted in the cloud, you will never have to worry about your data being lost, since most cloud services replicate data to additional outside datacenters, giving you additional peace of mind that your data is replicated and stored safely. Hosting your virtual desktops in the cloud means that there is a copy of your data being stored somewhere that is ready to be used as needed. If you were to price out these features by hiring an onsite IT expert, you would quickly realize that the price tag of a virtual desktop infrastructure costs less, while providing more robust features.

About the author:

Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie's daily posts on Google Plus, Twitter @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.

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