What Are Cloud Dekstops?

The term “cloud desktop” has been a major buzzword throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, when many companies are forced to adopt the remote working model due to the social distancing policies and restrictions.

Yet, what actually is a cloud desktop?

Moreso, the term is often used interchangeably with other terms, such as “remote desktop,” “desktop as a service” (DaaS), “VDI” or “Virtual Desktop Interface,” and others, which often confuses prospective users. Are they one and the same? Or are they totally different?

In this post, we will discuss all you need to know about cloud desktop, and by the end, you’d have learned about:

  • What is a cloud desktop?
  • Cloud desktop VS desktop virtualization VS Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VD), and other terms
  • Key benefits of cloud desktops

And more.

Without further ado, let us begin.

What Is a Cloud Desktop?

Cloud desktop, also known as desktop virtualization or simply virtual desktop, is an umbrella term describing technologies and methods that allow users to access cross-platform desktop operating systems (OSs) and applications over the cloud. 

With cloud desktops, users can access a full desktop experience anywhere, anytime, and from any device, including inexpensive thin clients and mobile devices. The actual desktop OS and applications are hosted on a server, which will then stream the OS and applications image to the end-users over the cloud. 

In practice, cloud desktops allow businesses to store their workers’ desktop workstations (i.e., wallpapers, customizations, applications, etc. ) on a cloud vendor’s server rather than on the end user’s local devices. This can translate into easier management and maintenance (i.e., scheduling software updates) while also enabling the business to establish more centralized security. 

Why Cloud Desktops: Key Benefits of Cloud Desktops

A cloud desktop implementation allows users to work from virtually anywhere, as long as they have access to an internet connection. Since most data processing, including running applications, is performed on a cloud server, end users can opt to use a less powerful and more affordable device to do their work. 

Also, a key characteristic of cloud desktop is how all users’ data, applications, and potentially sensitive/confidential data are stored on the cloud desktop server and not on the end user’s devices.

These will provide three key benefits for businesses:

  • Facilitating remote work

When, for example, a business just hired a new remote worker, then provisioning this user is just a matter of creating a new account on the cloud desktop platform, which can be done in minutes. 

Additionally, since the OS and applications are served to the end-users over the cloud, these end-users now have the ability to access their virtual workstation virtually anywhere and on any device, as long as there’s internet connectivity. 

On the other hand, when a remote worker leaves the company, access to the cloud desktop platform can be easily revoked, and the resources used by this worker can be returned to the centrally pooled infrastructure.

  • More efficient resource allocation

In cloud desktops, applications, OS, and resources are hosted in a centralized data center, so it’s easier for organizations to manage resource allocation and ensure efficiency. 

For example, a video editor may need more computing resources and heavier applications than a copywriter, so the IT department can allocate the resources accordingly with the cloud desktop provider. 

Also, since users’ devices are basically only used for input and output, users can use less powerful and more affordable client devices instead. Ultimately this will result in more efficiency for everyone.

  • Improved security

Establishing cyber and data security is often the biggest challenge for modern companies, especially those who leverage remote working. 

With cloud desktop, OS, applications, and confidential data are not stored on user devices, which allows businesses to enable a more centralized security control. Organizations can easily implement strict role-based authentication, ensuring users can only access sensitive/confidential data when it is essential for their work. Also, regular security updates can be easily pushed to all OS and applications.

When a worker leaves the organization, there’s also no need to erase applications and data from the worker’s devices since everything is stored on the server. 

How Does Cloud Desktop Work?

While different cloud desktop vendors may use different techniques in offering their desktop virtualization services, in all cloud desktop deployments, we can see the following characteristics:

  • A centralized server runs Virtual Machines (VMs), each of the VM hosting a virtual desktop.
  • Multiple instances of VMs can be housed on a single server within one data center (host-based configuration)
  • A hypervisor creates and runs VMs that host the cloud desktop environments.
  • Each virtual desktop stored an OS (operating system) image, typically Microsoft Windows or Windows Server.
  • The server streams the VMs storing virtual desktops over the cloud.
  • End clients (PCs, mobile devices, thin client devices) must be connected to the server over the cloud so they can maintain access to the cloud desktop.
  • A connection broker (a software layer that acts as an intermediary between users and the clout desktop) connects the user with a virtual desktop after the user has successfully accessed the cloud desktop platform.

In a nutshell, in a cloud desktop deployment, a hypervisor creates Virtual Machines (VMs) and may segment the server into different instances of VMs. These VMs, in turn, host cloud desktop operating systems, and users can access these cloud desktop environments from their devices through a connection broker.

Implementing Cloud Desktop: Best Practices

When implementing cloud desktops in your organization, here are important best practices to follow:

  • Plan resource allocation

Use relevant performance monitoring tools to understand the required resources of each worker so you can perform capacity planning.

  • Prepare internet connectivity

The cloud desktop’s performance will ultimately be determined by your network’s performance. Make sure to invest in adequate internet bandwidth after assessing your employees’ activities. Anticipate peak usage times to ensure sufficient bandwidth capacity. 

  • Assess end users’ needs

Is personalization/customization important for a specific worker? What are the individual users’ performance requirements?

Wrapping Up

A cloud desktop is a cloud-based service that securely streams remote desktop and virtual applications from the cloud to any device. V2 Cloud offers a simple but affordable way to set up and implement a cloud virtual desktop solution for your business. 

Cloud desktop can allow businesses to save a lot in upfront investment and maintenance costs while ensuring centralized security to protect confidential data.

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