OK, so many of you have seen this picture circulating around the web recently and the point beyond the humor is that many Mac users also need access to Windows applications because there isn’t a Mac or web based application available or the Mac version lacks the full features of the Windows version. Not a slam to Mac users/lovers just a reality to common applications like Quickbooks or even addins for Salesforce.com.
- Client Hypervisors
Traditionally some have run applications like Parallels or VMware Fusion (see a comparison here published by Parallels) but these require a separate virtual machine running on your Mac. These applications are not for the non-technical user since they require installation of their virtual machine on your Mac along with a full Windows installation. And yes, there’s the license of their app along with the rather expensive full Windows OS license cost as well.
- Hosted Virtual Desktops
A hosted virtual desktop approach may be a simpler approach since there is no client hypervisor to install and no Microsoft OS installation or license cost. Yes, there are separate DaaS (Desktop as a Service) costs but access from the Mac is a simple browser login making it very simple for Mac users. The hosted virtual desktop is also available from multiple devices including Macs, PCs, iPads, and Android tablets making the application access available from anywhere and not just installed on a single device.
Real world examples
Many of our customers at ICC Global Hosting are using their Macs to access their hosted virtual desktop or hosted application and for most of these their Mac is their primary but not only device with commonly a secondary iPad device for mobile or home use. In some cases these are BYOD users who prefer to use their own personal Mac at home but more often just people who have selected a Mac as their primary device at work and need to get to core Windows based line of business applications or applications that only run on Internet explorer. I have previously discussed the benefits of a Hosted IE browser, “Running Internet Explorer on your iPad or Android Tablet for Apps that require specific browser settings”.
Gartner study sites hybrid cloud growth
In the October 3, 2013 FierceCIO article “Hybrid cloud deployments on the way up, says Gartner” author Paul Mah cites the recent Gartner study where Gartner’s analyst, Thomas Bittman, states “nearly half of all large enterprises will have a hybrid cloud deployment by the end of 2017.”
Bittman also states, “While the majority of midsize and large enterprises will build and deploy private cloud services over the next few years, private cloud will only be used for specific, appropriate services.”
What’s a hybrid cloud?
According to SearchCloudComputing “a hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally. The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities.”
Hybrid clouds are great for Hosted Virtual Desktops and Hosted Virtual Applications?
Now that the Cloud is not a new concept and Enterprises are starting to adopt use of the Cloud, organizations are choosing the best solution for wide adoption. Most organizations cannot make the numbers work on an internal VDI implementation, and why would they if they can go buy DaaS as a more cost effective solution and focus their internal resources on higher value key applications. Common line of business apps are better hosted in the Cloud. The ease of implementation without acquired assets more than justifies the Cloud for line of business apps. Often, a LOB manager can make a Cloud decision with little or no IT involvement which is a win for everyone. Some large internal applications, for example ERP, are often so customized and delicate they’re better off running in a private cloud or on-site.
Our customers have seen tremendous advantages in using Hosted Virtual Desktops and saved tons of money compared to building their own VDI. We commonly host LOB Apps as Hosted Virtual Applications which eliminates the need for building servers, getting IT approval, and keeps the application purchase decision in the LOB’s hands.
Small and medium businesses have already figured this out
Enterprises have been slow to adopt the Cloud and commonly the ones to misconstrue virtualization or co-location as the Cloud. I have previously written about this but Enterprises are starting to catch-up. Of course Gartner doesn’t generally write to or about the SMB or SME markets but many of these smaller organizations have found tremendous value in the Cloud with Hosted Virtual Desktops and Hosted Virtual Applications.
It’s great to see analysts predicting hybrid cloud growth but the key thing here is Enterprises are finally adopting the Cloud.
Why Small Businesses use Managed Service Providers
Small business runs on technology and in many cases it’s the technology that gives them a competitive advantage over their larger competitors so there’s a high value for IT and IT support for small businesses. However, most small businesses can’t afford a full time employee to manage their computers and servers so they turn to a local Managed Service Provider (MSP) to do what most people refer to as “Break / Fix” services. In other words, a person they can call to fix something when it breaks. That’s a pretty reactive approach and often by the time a computer breaks the business owner is in the lurch for a quick fix and may have already lost his data when the computer broke.Then at the mercy of the repair guy, the fix is always an unexpected and unwelcome expense. So the MSP industry has evolved to also provide a maintenance agreement to remotely monitor your computers to help predict when something may be going wrong and in some cases fix things without coming to your office and crawling under your desk.
So for the small business owner, the MSP is now engaged and watching out for them and paying the MSP for both the “Break / Fix” plus the maintenance agreement. Certainly more proactive but still stuck in the cycle of having desktops and servers in the office with updates, upgrades, and hardware replacement that needs to be done. And don’t forget the concerns about your business stopping when the server crashes, the power fails, or there’s some other emergency in your building. Things that keep you up at night.
Along Comes the Cloud
Cloud Computing is a topic at every trade conference and small businesses have been leaders in adopting the Cloud. As I have previously written, SMBs are embracing the Cloud, “SMBs are Winning the Cloud with Cloud Mobility while Enterprise Cloud Adoption Laggers“, and even more so are start-ups, “Start-ups use DaaS to start their business in the Cloud“. Just imagine the business agility a start-up has if they have no investment in servers and give their employees the choice of working from a PC, Mac, or any device they want to use. The biggest benefit of the Cloud is purchasing only the resources you need and getting rid of on-site servers and all of those server related things that keep you up at night. If you have a “server room” like the one in the picture, you could eliminate the tangle of wires and extension cords by moving to the Cloud. No more concerns about back-ups, power, security, or buying a new server. You may also gain some storage space.
What Your MSP Isn’t Telling You
What your MSP may not be telling you is you can simplify your life, reduce your exposure, increase your security and business continuity, and even reduce you costs by dumping your servers and moving your applications and desktop support to the cloud. This may not be good news for your friend the MSP since there will be less “Break / Fix” work to be done and much less management. For most SMBs the server in the closet is running Microsoft’s Small Business Server which is running a domain controller, Active Directory, Exchange, and acting as a file server. In addition, there may be a couple of applications like QuickBooks, CRM, or some other line of business application. This can all very simply be moved to the Cloud and none of this needs to be on-site. Once this is moved to the Cloud, these applications and your users won’t be tied to the office either with all of the applications security available from a Hosted Virtual Desktop on any device over the Internet. Your data and back-ups will all be managed in a secure data center and with the data center redundancies you don’t have to worry about servers crashing or ever buying another server, ever! All of your applications and desktop support managed in the Cloud by a Cloud Service Provider. Security, business continuity, and less stress all allowing you to sleep better at night.
Is Cloud Computing Right for Your Business?
Determining whether or not Cloud Computing is right for you is not too complicated and in a previous post, “How to Select a DaaS Provider“, I discussed some of the things to consider. However, your MSP might not be the best person to ask if they are not equipped to provide Cloud services. If they were the ones who turned your closet into a server room, you may need to look for a Cloud Service Provider who is used to managing clients from a data center. Hosted Virtual Desktops and Application Hosting can all be provided in the Cloud from a data center and you can eliminate servers and on-site support.
If you’d like to consider whether the Cloud is right for your business, please contact ICC Global Hosting at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website, at www.iccglobalhosting.com, to learn about how we have moved other small businesses to the Cloud.
ICC salutes the many Georgian telecommuters.
Once again this year we’d like to join the The Clean Air Campaign in promoting telecommuting across Georgia, and everywhere. The Fourth annual Telework Week runs from August 19th to 23rd, 2013. Over 260 Georgian companies have joined the effort to promote the benefits of telecommuting.
Attend a local Georgia Telework Summit event near you.
64% of managers surveyed agreed telework provides their organizations with a competitive advantage. Why? Because telework is a business strategy that can improve productivity and morale while reducing facilities costs. While companies like Yahoo! are suspending their programs, employers in Georgia are expanding their efforts, with access to free resources via Georgia Commute Options to help start, expand or refresh formal telework programs. Attend a summit to learn firsthand about the best ways to start or expand a telework program at your workplace. Hear from public and private sector employers about unique strategies that made their programs succeed. There is no cost to attend either event. For more details and registration go to http://www.gacommuteoptions.com/Employer-Services/Telework-Compressed-Work-Week-and-Flextime-Consulting/Telework/Support-Georgia-Telework-Week-2013.
Enable Telecommuting with Hosted Virtual Desktops
Of course the key to telecommuting is providing your employees with the tools to be productive from their home office and what better way than with a Hosted Virtual Desktop. A hosted virtual desktop provides a telecommuting employee with secure access to their full desktop, corporate applications, and all of their data for their home computer, laptop, or tablet. So whether your company supports full-time telecommuting, part-time telecommuting, or just a BYOD program for the occasional telecommuter, a hosted virtual desktop is a cost effective and secure solution.
ICC Global Hosting Supporting Telecommuters
Many of our customers’ employees telecommute as do many of ICC’s employees to some degree. We host desktops for several virtual companies, companies without a centralized office, and a see the demand for mobility and telecommuting as top drivers for our growth. For those of you considering a telecommuting program, ICC can help you with:
- Secure remote access to all applications and data otherwise available inside the office.
- A scaleable approach to offer our services for those who need it. You don’t have to virtualize everyone at once. You only pay for as many as you need.
- No upfront costs for infrastructure so you can start small and grow as you want one user at a time.
- A consistent end user experience. The hosted virtual desktop looks just like your office desktop which means no additional training.
- We can support almost any user device so you don’t have to buy everyone a laptop and we can support PCs, Macs, and tablets.
Leveraging the Cloud for Telecommuting
The employer incentives and employee benefits are great for everyone participating in telecommuting programs. Jump start and simplify your telecommuting program through leveraging the Cloud and using Hosted Virtual Desktops.
Using Cloud Based Desktop Applications to Meet Changing Life Styles in the Staffing and Recruiting Industry
Repost from Bond International Software, Inc. Blog from 7-10-2013
Using Cloud Based Desktop Applications to Meet Changing Life Styles in the Staffing and Recruiting Industry
Guest Blog by Mark Moeller
As with most industries the staffing and recruiting industry has seen many changes to their employees’ life styles with more and more workers working from remote offices, telecommuting, or just needing access to their applications from their tablet, PC, or Mac at home. The days of working in the office from 9:00 to 5:00 and the day ending then are becoming more the exception than the rule.
More and more applications are now moving to the Cloud – “applications running in a secured datacenter and accessed via the Internet”. This makes sense for the changing life cycles of many workers and adds a layer of security for your data by keeping the data in the Cloud and not sending data to a potentially unknown or personal device. While Cloud based applications are great, the Cloud based desktop provides the convenience of all of your applications, shared data, and e-mail all accessible from one secure place and from any device anywhere you want it.
Though our partnership with Bond, ICC Global Hosting provides Bond customers with Cloud based desktops which can provide access to Bond applications along with Hosted e-mail, Microsoft Office applications, and shared storage. This solution designed for the staffing and recruiting industry delivers a centralized desktop with all of your applications and data from essentially any device and from anywhere you have a reliable Internet connection. ICC’s Cloud based desktops have a secure connection to Bond applications and all of the end user data and e-mail is secured in our data center preventing data loss from failed back-ups, PC theft, or personnel changes.
ICC’s Cloud desktop simplifies the day to day management of PCs and applications in the office and supports the changing life styles of staffing and recruiting professionals. If you’d like to learn more about how about how Cloud desktops can add flexibility and security for your firm, please contact your Bond Sales Representative or ICC at email@example.com.
Mark Moeller is Vice President Business Development for ICC Global Hosting.
Security is Best in Layers
As all security experts will tell you, security works best in layers. While two-factor authentication is not a new technology, it seems that more and more Cloud and web based applications are using two-factor authentication for that additional layer of protection upon login. The time has come for users to consider two-factor authentication for their Hosted Virtual Desktop.
Yes, we are all aware of the many security advantages of a Hosted Virtual Desktop in isolating the data within its own virtual container and preventing data from being saved locally, but the biggest risk is with your users. User name and password security has become a growing risk as end users use the same logins for multiple sites. The loss of login credentials can potentially now be used for unauthorized access to multiple sites. Two-factor authentication can give end users that extra layer of protection upon login.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
The easiest way to understand two-factor authentication is how your ATM card works. You have something you know, your PIN, and something you have, your ATM card. In order for the ATM machine to authenticate that it’s you, you need both the PIN and the card.
Your Phone is Your Best Token
Over the years there have been lots of two-factor authentication vendors for authenticating your computer login, most of which have issued the end user with a token. These tokens have been small physical devices such as a key fob or USB device and in many cases a “soft token” which is basically a small application on your PC.
Of course all apps have gone mobile and now the most logical token for most people is their phone. What else are you sure to have with you at all times and a phone token is one less thing to carry or lose. In the sample screen to the right is an example of an iPhone token app. In this case, I entered my user name and password to login into my Hosted Virtual Desktop which then immediately sends a login request to the app on my phone. The user name and password are something I know and the “approved” login request on my phone is something I have. Very simple. With ICC Global Hosting’s two-factor authentication this phone token is available on any smart phone device and can also call you at a designated phone number or text you a more traditional passcode. While there is a small additional per user per month fee for this service, there’s no big up-front cost or large minimums of users.
Who Needs Two-Factor Authentication for the Hosted Virtual Desktop?
Two-factor authentication is common in lots of industries such as Finance, Healthcare, and Technology and could also help secure BYOD devices. In reality, with the loss of user names and passwords becoming more common it could be advisable for almost any customer to add two-factor authentication to their Hosted Virtual Desktop.
Office 365 now available for the iPhone
It was announced today that you can download the FREE “Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers” app in the iTunes App Store. Wow, just what everyone’s been wanting. Office on all of their mobile devices.
Oops, not so fast! This free app only works if you have a subscription to Office 365 and only works on your iPhone. Too bad if you wanted that for your iPad and of course it’s not available for any Android device. You can read more of the details in Gary Krakow’s article in TheStreet’s “Microsoft Office for iPhones, Not iPads”.
Lots of demand for Office on Mobile Devices
There is of course lots of demand for Office on mobile devices and I’ve written about that before “MS Office Coming Soon to the iTunes App Store”, over a year ago. The thing that the guys in Redmond just don’t get is that people want to use Office on their tablets and excluding tablets (except for Microsoft’s Surface) is lame since I really can’t edit a PowerPoint presentation on my iPhone. The iPhone screen is just too small. Well, they probably get it but just aren’t willing to allow it yet even though it might help Office 365 sales.
Office on your Hosted Virtual Desktop for any Tablet or Device
So if you want to have access to your files and run Office on your iPad or Android tablet the best bet is still a Hosted Virtual Desktop. Whether it’s for a BYOD user or just a mobile user you can have a full Office Suite, access to all of your files, and your line of business or proprietary apps. A full Windows desktop, on any device, anywhere, and without an Office 365 subscription.
Office from Multiple Devices
There have been lots of apps developed to open and some to edit Microsoft documents and there’s even some native support on the iPad now to open a Word or other Office documents. The key to this from what we see at ICC Global Hosting is our clients use more than one device and want the same easy to use Windows desktop to access all of their Apps and files without a bunch of hoops to jump through to upload and download files or figure out how different versions of Apps work on different devices. Hosted Virtual Desktops keep it simple so even the non-technical user can be productive without a computer degree or help from their son or daughter.
Protecting Microsoft’s Licensing
We’ve all seen or heard of the friend of a friend or download site where you can get an “Office License” which we all know is not a legit license for your device. Microsoft has to be very careful with their software to make sure they get paid for their technology and they should get paid. Hosted Virtual Desktops come with 100% legitimate licensing so you can rest assured that the apps you want work and are supported, and that you’re doing the right thing. Similar to Office 365 this is all part of your monthly Hosted Virtual Desktop subscription.
Microsoft Office for your Tablet or any Device
So if you haven’t tried a Hosted Virtual Desktop, give it a try on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or even Linux desktop. You’ll be able to run all of the Office applications plus any other application that runs on a Windows desktop.
For more information about ICC’s Hosted Virtual Desktops, including Office, please contact us at sales.iccgh.com.