For small businesses looking for alternative IT solutions, desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) might offer an answer. A remote desktop IT service offers a cost-effective option for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that want to outsource their IT needs or reallocate their in-house IT resources to other projects. Despite some security risks, this service can yield many benefits for your company.
“SMBs have the most to gain from this type of service,” said Dick Csaplar, formerly a senior research analyst at Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based research firm. “Instead of having to buy, provision, manage, track and monitor desktop applications, companies outsource these functions to a desktop cloud provider to do it for them.”
Small businesses can use remote desktop IT services to take advantage of the latest cloud technologies and reap the benefits of a full-service IT department, which may be more productive and cost-efficient than hiring an in-house team.
Small businesses have two remote desktop IT service options: They can either outsource their entire IT operations to a remote desktop IT provider or co-manage the systems between the provider and one or two in-house staff.
dinCloud is one such provider of cloud-based remote desktop services. Ali Din, the company’s former senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said a turnkey system is a great option for businesses that want to outsource the technical aspect of desktop services while managing their own administrative functions.
“When you go into a hosted desktop, you have to have data-center-type people who tend to have higher skill sets or knowledge base in terms of keeping all that technology working together. It’s actually very hard to find someone who knows networking and knows storage and knows servers,” Din said. “One of the beauties of remote desktop services is that once you hand over the turnkey model, it becomes a lot easier to manage. Now you don’t have to get into the technical piece of it. You’re just handling the simple things, and any admin can do that.”
Whether you decide to co-manage the system or outsource the entire IT department, remote desktop service providers do all the technical heavy lifting for you. This can drastically reduce IT personnel costs.
When a cloud provider handles your IT, you don’t have to worry about day-to-day upgrades, maintenance and troubleshooting. At the same time, you also benefit from the agility of cloud technology that can be accessed from any device at any location.
Security is the biggest concern businesses have, Din said. This is reflected in dinCloud’s logo, which features a cloud with a lock on top of it as a way of addressing decision makers’ worries about their data’s safety.
When you’re researching remote desktop IT service providers, assess the security systems the company offers and whether or not they address all facets of storage and operations.
“We provide multiple layers of security,” Din said. These security layers include physical security on the equipment itself, as well as a private data center for each individual customer. These security measures aim to protect migration as well as access and storage.
Take note that providers typically only offer long-term contracts. If you later decide the provider’s service doesn’t offer the kind of cloud security your business needs, or the service simply isn’t a good fit for your organization, you’ll have a hard time switching. Moving to a different provider or reverting to your previous self-managed IT system is a difficult and costly task.
Remote desktop services are typically subscription-based. The month-to-month fees may be all-inclusive with the full functionality of an IT department, or they may cover select services targeted to your needs.
Brett Waldman, former research manager for client and server virtualization software at IT research firm IDC, said the biggest factor is whether a remote desktop IT service fits your organization. “It does not make sense for companies that have employees traveling a lot,” he said. “But if it’s a fit for more than 40 percent or 50 percent of your users, it’s certainly worth looking into.”
Before you choose a remote desktop service provider, consider the costs. These depend on the provider and the technology currently available on the market. For instance, your system may require a technology refresh to keep it up to date, which may incur some additional costs for new hardware and software.
This will increase the overall capital cost, but lower the operating costs once the new technology is in place, said Mike Sapien, principal analyst at consulting and research firm Ovum.
Prices for remote desktop services depend on your needs. For example, a hosted desktop list price might be $40 per month per user, which provides users with the back-end infrastructure — servers, networking, storage and computing power — as well as the fully functional front-end Windows desktop that’s ready to go with the necessary software. More advanced organizations might require additional apps and server hosting for a few hundred dollars a month.
Sapien advises small businesses to think about how reliable the provider is and what their options are if things don’t work out.
The process “should also include some risk assessment of downtime or computer failure and disruption to its business,” said Sapien. Make sure your provider has the resources and the ability to handle a company of your size and complexity. Be clear on the cancellation terms if you are unhappy with the service or experience repeated outages and service gaps. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for references.
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A capable remote desktop provider can remove much of the cost and stress associated with an in-house IT department. Find a provider you like before signing on the dotted line, though, since many companies offer long-term contracts. Look for a solution that can fulfill your current needs and adapt with you as you grow.
Additional reporting by Alex Halperin.