Outsourcing your technology support is nothing new. In fact, some argue (not unfairly) that traditional IT services are a commodity at this point.
 
But just as technology itself has made incredible strides over the past few decades, outsourcing is also evolving in ways that can eliminate the need to manage your IT altogether.
 

What traditional IT management takes off of your plate

In most cases, “full” outsourcing handles:

  • Monitoring and maintaining your server(s)
  • Backing up your data
  • Protecting your laptops and desktops from viruses and malware
  • Keeping your firewall updated with the latest software
  • User support via helpdesk services
  • Some level of on-site maintenance for your servers, firewall, and other networking equipment

Basically, you own your technology infrastructure, but you pay someone else to take care of it.
 

What remains

With this model, you’ll still need to deal with:

  • Upgrading and replacing your servers every 4-5 years
  • Housing your servers in a secure place with proper environmental controls and redundancies with power and internet
  • Responding to and recovering from any hardware or software failures
  • Upgrading and replacing your workstations every 3-4 years
  • Implementing a means of remote access
  • Continuously vetting and implementing new security tools as threats evolve
  • Scaling your infrastructure as you grow

Your outsourced team will help with all of this, but since you own your infrastructure, ultimately you’re calling the shots and you’re footing the bill.
 
For some companies, these obligations really aren’t that big of a deal; not having to fuss with ongoing maintenance is such a big relief that they simply don’t mind the periodic projects or investments.
 
Others, however, would be thrilled to cross these items off of their list. This is where a Virtual Desktop platform might make good sense.
 

How Virtual Desktops are changing the game

While traditional outsourcing removes maintenance from the equation, virtual desktops allow businesses to “rent” their entire technology experience from an outside provider.
 
With virtual desktops – otherwise known as Desktop as a Service or DaaS – your provider recreates your network (applications and all) within their datacenter and delivers your computing experience to you over the internet. It’s as if you’re downloading your Windows desktop to whatever device you’re using and, well, getting to work.
 
Here’s what you’re responsible for to make this work:

  • A device that can connect to the internet (phone, tablet, laptop, dumb terminal)
  • An internet connection

If you have an office (also not required), you will need basic networking equipment to manage your internet connection. If you have company-owned laptops, you will need to replace them periodically, too. But the rest (i.e. everything listed above) sits squarely on your provider’s shoulders.
 
This, of course, requires that you put an enormous amount of trust in that provider; your operations will be in their hands, so you have to be confident they’ll take proper care.
 
Shifting this burden also comes with a price tag; you’ll avoid large capital investments in upgrades, but you will pay a premium on an ongoing basis for the risk and responsibility that your provider is taking on.
 
In other words, this kind of solution isn’t for everyone, and it might take some time for companies to warm up to the idea.
 
But if being freed from the grip of IT sounds like music to your ears, you might want to give virtual desktops a good hard look.
 

 
As originally published in the American City Business Journals.


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