For small businesses looking for alternative IT solutions, desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) may be the answer. Implementing a remote desktop IT service can be 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.
“SMBs have the most to gain from this type of service,” said Dick Csaplar, 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.”
With remote desktop IT services, small businesses can take advantage of the latest cloud technologies and get the benefits of a full-service IT department, which may be more productive and cost-efficient than hiring their own IT 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 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 co-manage the system or outsource the entire department, remote desktop service providers essentially do all the technical heavy lifting for you. You don’t have to worry about the day-to-day upgrades, maintenance and troubleshooting, and at the same time, you also have the agility of cloud technology that can be accessed from any device at any location.
Security, however, 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, in order to address decision makers’ worries about their data’s safety.
In researching remote desktop IT service providers, businesses should assess the types of security systems offered by the company and whether 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 protect everything from migration to access and storage.
Take note that providers typically only offer long-term contracts. If you later decide the provider’s service lacks the kind of cloud security your business needs, or the service simply isn’t for your organization, moving to a different provider or getting your previous self-managed IT system back is a very 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 with select services that are targeted to your needs.
For example, dinCloud’s hosted desktop list price is $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. For more advanced organizations, dinCloud also offers additional apps and server hosting for a couple of hundred dollars a month.
Before choosing a remote desktop service provider, small businesses should also consider any additional costs. These costs depend on the provider and the types of technology currently available in the market. For instance, your system may require a “technology refresh” to keep it up-to-date, which may incur some initial costs for new hardware and software. This will increase the overall capital cost, but will also lower the operating costs once the new technology is in place, said Mike Sapien, principal analyst at consulting and research firm Ovum.
Sapien also advises small businesses to think about how reliable the provider is and what their options are if things don’t work out.
“This 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 termination terms if you end up unhappy with their services or have repeated outages and service gaps. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Should you implement remote desktop IT services that work with or replace your IT department?
Brett Waldman, research manager for client 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.”