At the most basic level, all these terms mean the same thing, and all user Internet technologies to mimic local computer resources, from programs, to data storage to the computer itself.
‘Cloud services are now used by 62 per cent of medium sized and small businesses, up from 48 per cent in the first half of 2012. By early 2013, 73 per cent of medium sized and small businesses plan to adopt cloud services.’
So why are so many experts convinced that hosted technology is the future? And what does it all mean for your business?
What are hosted desktops?
Think of the PC on your desk at work. Now imagine being able to access all of your programs and files from any device (including your smartphone or tablet) anywhere in the world. That’s pretty much what a hosted desktop does.
The hosted desktop is stored on a server maintained by a service provider in their datacentre. You then connect to your hosted PC and work exactly as you would when sat at your desk. Alternatively where you only need access to certain programs, hosted applications work in the same way, running from the provider’s data centre over the Internet.
Best of all, your hosted desktop can also be used in the office, so whatever you do wherever you are, everything is exactly the same.
Using a hosted desktop means that your service provider keeps all of the hardware current too, so you have to replace your own PCs and laptops much less frequently, cutting capital expenditure costs dramatically.
What about security?
With hosted applications, everything is stored in your service provider’s industrial-grade data centre. This means your service provider then becomes responsible for:
- Protecting your data against loss and theft;
- Providing network security to ensure only authorised users gain access to your hosted desktop;
- Installing and maintaining anti-malware tools to further protect your company information; and
- Hosted applications allow your team to be productive without most of the overheads usually associated with maintaining data security.
‘35 per cent of US companies indicated that they had benefited from higher levels of security since shifting to the cloud.’
What about backup?
With data hosted in the Cloud, your business immediately benefits from:
- Information being held away from your place of work makes it less vulnerable to local disasters;
- Data backup and restore operations are the responsibility of the service provider so there’s no need to remember to swap tapes any more; and
- Enterprise-class technologies allow for file versioning and backup that may not be possible under your current on-site regime;
Many SMEs do not perform regular backups. By using hosted desktops and other Cloud services, backup is done for you, every day.
40 per cent of SMEs don’t back up their data
How easy is it to switch to hosted applications?
Hosted desktops often fit into your existing network without any major changes to your infrastructure. This means you should be able to move to hosted applications without incurring additional charges from your IT service provider. You may even find you can reduce your local support provisions and save money in the process.
The Key Cloud points
In reality, the move to the Cloud makes sense for SMEs because:
- You can access your ‘work PC’ and data, any place, any time using hosted virtual desktops;
- The service provider takes care of all security and data backup issues as part of your subscription fee;
- Hosted desktops and Windows applications should drop straight into your existing IT setup; and
- You can potentially reduce reliance on your current IT service provider, reducing support costs in the process.
Danny Walker is Managing Director at IT Farm.
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