A hosted desktop solution can improve the efficiency of your IT system, with associated benefits to the way your staff work. The advantage to users is that they will barely notice that anything has changed at all, making it easy to ‘sell’ the concept to change-resistant employees.
All users will log onto their desktops via an online portal, requiring just an internet connection. Integration of cloud-based identity providers (e.g. Microsoft Azure AD) enable features such as seamless single sign-on, passwordless login and multi-factor authentication. Enabling such integration will provide an enhanced user experience by reducing (or preferably eliminating) password prompts and provide secure access to corporate data in an intelligent, non-intrusive manner. Staff will see and access exactly the same data in the same format they are used to, whether they are working on a computer, laptop, tablet or phone – and from wherever they are.
As all the processing happens in the central server, the speed of individual devices is no longer an issue – all you need is access to broadband and you will be able to work on everything you are used to, whether that is simple Word files or complex CAD work.
The main advantage of installing a hosted desktop solution is to facilitate agile working solutions. It not only helps staff to be flexible in where they work, but it also enables those who need to travel to meetings to travel lighter because they will be able to access anything they need via a phone, tablet or laptop.
This means your firm would no longer have to provide expensive, state-of-the-art laptops capable of running huge amounts of data to every member of staff who needs to work remotely. It also means that if the hardware is lost, damaged or stolen, your firm can not only replace the device more cheaply but will not have to worry about losing data and confidential details – because there will be no need for any to be stored on the device.
Productivity is hugely important, especially when it comes to fee earners. The right technology can have a huge impact on reducing the amount of time staff have to waste on tasks that can now be automated, at the same time as improving accuracy.
Hosted desktop solutions provide staff with predictable and scalable amounts of centralised processing power. A well-designed architecture can provide sufficient compute power to all staff, regardless of the capabilities of the endpoint devices being used. The speed of the central server is also beneficial in terms of the time wasted by members of staff waiting for inefficient endpoint hardware to process data.
Architects, for instance, who need to access a huge amount of computing power to operate CAD software, no longer need powerful (and therefore expensive) laptops from which they can show clients their designs. With centralised processing power, they can access anything they need on any device they have with them, whether it’s a laptop, tablet or phone, working at the same speeds as a high-powered computer.
Real estate savings
One big advantage of agile working for organisations is that it frees up more office space. With more people opting to work remotely, companies do not have to provide everyone with a dedicated desk of their own. A hosted desktop solution will enable your company to provide hot-desking, so wherever a staff member sits, they will always be connected to their own desktop, with everything available they need and are familiar with. This will eventually bring cost savings when more staff need to be taken on, but without the consequent need for your organisation to move to larger premises.
Hosted desktop solutions offer extra security for both your hardware and software. In a ‘non-persistent’ environment, the hosted desktops being accessed by staff are stateless clones that contain no permanent data. Critical components such as user profiles and line of business applications are instead centralised and dynamically attached at user login. These ‘disposable desktops’ are linked to a single master image. As such, any software updates only need to be installed once, into the master image, rather than onto every piece of hardware in the company. Moving to a stateless environment with single image management not only drastically reduces the amount of time IT staff spend updating every computer in the company, it also reduces the chances that some hardware will slip through the net, which increases the possibility that a cyber breach can occur.
When it comes to meetings and remote working, the chance of losing devices or having them stolen increases. Not only does that mean having to replace the device, you could also lose any work that is saved on it – and there is the security concern that the data will fall into the wrong hands.
In terms of hardware, if you use power-hungry apps, your device will also be more powerful and therefore much more expensive than a standard one. However, with hosted desktop solutions, all staff can use standard devices, which are less expensive to replace. Also, none of your company data needs to be on that device, which means losing hardware will no longer be company critical.
With all staff members logging onto the system remotely (even if they always work at their desks), any interruption to the working day does not need to have a devastating effect on business continuity. If, for instance, there is a power cut or staff cannot access your building for whatever reason, everyone would be able to work on their own devices at home. No data will have been lost because the server is in a different location (with backup servers in additional locations), so you will be able to get ‘up and running’ quickly and efficiently.
The beauty of a hosted desktop solution is that it is designed to work with any device. This means that even if you have just replaced your computer hardware, you will not lose that investment by introducing a hosted solution.
By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce and as such, they will be in a stronger position to make demands. According to research undertaken by Deloitte: “tomorrow’s future leaders might ‘reject’ what business as traditionally organizational has to offer, preferring to work independently by digital means in the long term. This and other findings in Deloitte’s annual study of Generation Y point to significant challenges facing business leaders if they are to meet the expectations of the Millennial generation. Millennials … want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society.”
This means that, in order to attract talented staff members, fee earners and future leaders, organisations across all sectors must offer working practices that suit the best candidates, otherwise they will be passed over by the most talented workers.
Flexible working is a hugely important benefit for many, and a hosted desktop solution will enable any of your staff to work remotely. As long as they have access to broadband (even a poor service), they will be able to work as effectively and efficiently as they do from their desktop in the office. A hosted desktop solution works from any location, for any workload and from any device – there are no barriers.
If you are not thinking about agile working practices, you may not be attracting the right people, so it is well worth investigating a hosted desktop solution as a possible future direction for your company.
The Lumina hosted desktop solution
We have been developing and testing our own hosted desktop solution which will be launched at the Legal Technology Forum in March. If you are attending the Forum, come and talk to us about how a hosted desktop solution can help your firm, or contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our team.