Is the hosted virtual desktop the way of the future?

by The AT&T Business Editorial Team

There are many proponents of the hosted virtual desktop and I am certainly one of them. I see the advantages to having the ability to work from any device, anywhere there is network access. In addition, with the ubiquity of network access these days – 3G, LTE, WiFi, etc – it’s making it easier and easier to bring these types of services to end users.

However, if time is not spent to understand user needs when it comes to leveraging hosted virtual desktop services –– the results can be less than satisfactory.

In today’s environment there are so many user types, it’s hard to imagine a situation where a hosted virtual desktop will be a fit for everyone. I firmly believe the hosted virtual desktop is the way of the future, but I am also clear that they will sit alongside the traditional laptop/desktop for many years to come.

The questions that you need to ask when looking into a hosted desktop solution are more aligned with the user requirements than the actual virtual desktop environment itself. Is a hosted virtual desktop a good fit for a call center environment – absolutely! Financial services – absolutely! Government and Education – yes! Healthcare – yes! Executives – yes! Developers – maybe. Road warriors – maybe.

You have to dig a little deeper though to better understand these user needs.

For example, a call center employee probably has no need to install their own applications or interact with anything other than the applications they are provided to perform their daily job functions. They also typically sit in an office, or at a location with high speed internet access of some sort. This is an easy one. Call centers are a perfect fit for hosted virtual desktops.

Now let’s think about an Executive.  Is the hosted virtual desktop a good idea for them? Yes! Now an executive can travel with their tablet device – as many of them do these days – and securely access their hosted virtual desktop when needed from that device. If they leave the tablet at the hotel, or in the back of the taxi, there is no data stored locally, so there is less of a concern from a security aspect.

What about the road warrior? They are frequently on planes or in a car, and travelling in areas where network access may be spotty at best. Here my answer is –– maybe. It still depends on the individual user.

I have found that most road warriors are looking to travel as lightly as possible when they can. They may choose to carry a tablet device one day, a laptop the next, or work 100% from their smart phone. In this situation I think the hosted virtual desktop adoption should be available, but maybe not required. Leave it up to the end users to choose – but help them to make an informed decision by relaying to them the pros/cons of a hosted virtual desktop.

As I type this post, I am sitting on a flight back to Atlanta, working on my hosted virtual desktop over the in-flight WiFi. Is it a pleasant experience? Eh, it’s OK, but I know that is one of the trade-offs. I know that I may not always have access to my hosted virtual desktop due to a lack of network access – but those times are few and far between. I also get a chance to work from any device I choose. What a great approach to the whole BYOD/BYOC discussion that many are having these days. Secure the virtual desktop – and let end users bring their device of choice for consumption.

(Side note – I’ve also been leveraging our expanding locations for LTE wireless services and the experience when accessing my hosted virtual desktop has been great thus far.)

Don’t think about it from a perspective of how many users can we move to virtual desktops’ think about the use cases and where there is a fit.

Start slow – there will be bumps in the road – but in the end giving end users these types of services will continue to drive productivity in your company, and also allow IT to be seen as thought leaders rather than as followers.