Hosted Virtual Desktops – A Complete Guide

1 What is a Hosted Virtual Desktop

1.1 What is a Hosted Virtual Desktop

A hosted desktop is a virtualised user interface that acts in the same way as a standard   desktop.

It allows users to access data and applications on their desktop without the files within having to be stored locally on the device, or in corporate networks. Essentially, the popularity of hosted desktops today lies within their ability to deliver a desktop indistinguishable from their device-stored counterparts.

A hosted virtual desktop is defined as:

‘A product set within the larger cloud-computing sphere generally

delivered using a combination of technologies including hardware

virtualisation and some form of remote connection software.’

1.2 What is Cloud Computing

The term cloud computing is typically used to describe the use of virtual machines that provide businesses or individuals with access to shared pools of data and content. Cloud computing is defined as:

‘The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the

internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local

server or personal computer.’

Businesses that make use of cloud computing tools store data in ‘The Cloud’, which is the common name for a remote network of servers used to store data. This data can be accessed using the internet, instead of from the hard-drives of individual device. Cloud service providers will typically offer infrastructure, storage, application and networking services charged in a similar fashion to electricity or gas – by usage, or by storage capacity.


2 A History of Hosted Virtual Desktops

2.1 A Brief History

When considering the history of hosted desktops, it is important to examine the birth of virtual machines within their larger cloud computing context. Over the course of the 1960’s, computer development gained much ground, but the devices at the time were still only capable of completing one instruction at once. This would often mean computational tasks had to be completed in batches, a time-consuming endeavor.

In 1963 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) began developing project MAC (Multiple Access Computer) with a $2 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency grant. MAC aimed to research computer processes in greater depth, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence, computational theory, and operating systems. A portion of this research was geared towards creating computers that could complete multiple tasks at once, and devices that were capable of having more than one simultaneous user. In response to the research, International Business Machines (IBM) created the CP-67 system – the first mainframe computer that supported virtualisation.

The process of running a user’s desktop operating system did not appear until the late 90’s when VMware first introduced it in 1999 with their first product the VMware Workstation. The technology as we know it today did not become mainstream however until VMware released a superior product repertoire in 2007. Hosted virtual desktops have since gone on to be utilised by thousands of global businesses.

2.2 Why were hosted desktops introduced to the market?

When virtualisation was first conceptualised in the mid 60’s, computers were useful, but as previously explored, they had their limitations. They were only capable of performing one task at a time, with tasks having to be queued in batches. Software and hardware virtualisation was invented in subsequent decades in order to divide up large mainframe computers into manageable entities that allowed users to connect to networks and shared sets of data at the same time. It was believed that by dividing the mainframe and implementing the use of virtual machines businesses could better-focus resources and increase efficiency.

Virtualisation was also intended to increase security and stability by removing dependence on a solitary device. Prior, data had to be stored on individual machines, and should that machine become compromised, either by human error or natural disaster, then the data would have been lost. By storing data on a secure shared network, and granting access by way of virtual machines, businesses could make use of that data by allowing employees to access it from their separate operating systems, which would all but removed the likelihood of corruption.

2.3 How have hosted virtual desktops improved?

The technology that allows for machine and desktop virtualisation did not see any significant changes between the 1960’s – 90’s, other than being able to gain access to centrally stored data from multiple devices.

When the technology became slightly more popular in the late 90’s/early 2000’s it still had to be painstakingly managed on all levels, down to the code that processed actions. In 2001, the increasing migration of business files and processes online created new complex security threats which could have had lasting negative impacts. This made many businesses rush to implement cloud technology as a new security tool, as new developments meant files stored in the cloud were secure from external and internal threats because they could only be accessed securely with an internet connection.

Virtualisation gained real traction after the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation was passed in 2004. The new law introduced a strict set of management responsibilities surrounding data security, because of a series of high-profile security scandals at the time. Providers therefore increased hosted desktop functionality as a security tool, and marketed it as such.

In the present era, industry leading companies such as Citrix and VMware are continuously releasing product revisions and updates, with both companies releasing 6 collectively since 2009. This represents an increasing requirement to change the technology to reflect the needs and wants of the customer base. Things such as a friendlier user interface, competitive pricing, disaster recovery technology, and bring your own device integration have all been in recent versions of hosted desktop software.


3. Types of Virtual Desktop

As with any type of software, desktop virtualisation has several deployment models, all achieving a similar end result.

3.1 Operating System Provisioning

Operating system provisioning (OSP) is quite literally the provision of an entire operating system. They can be delivered as virtual machines hosted in a data centre or via a physical computer. OSP requires a constant network connection to run, which makes remote use impossible if the user does not have a secure link to the internet, meaning they would be unable to access their files.

3.2 Remote Desktop Services

Remote desktop services, originally known as terminal services, allows end users to take control of a virtual machine or remote computer by using a network connection. Requirements for RDS are minimal as the machine virtualisation takes place in a data centre, meaning scalability can be increased or decreased as required.

3.3 Client Hypervisors

A hypervisor is defined as:

‘A type of software, firmware, or hardware that creates and runs virtual machines.’

A client hypervisor is a hypervisor specifically used on client devices, including desktop computers, workstations, and laptops. This technique of virtualisation enables for the use of multiple operating systems and virtual machines on shared devices. Client hypervisors are widely used to perform tasks rivalling physical computers, and therein lies their popularity.

All client hypervisors can be separated into two distinct categories, type 1 and type 2.

Type 1

Type 1 or ‘bare metal’ client hypervisors operate directly from the host device, and are used to host an operating system.

Type 2

Type 2 or virtualised client hypervisors run from within the host operating system as a solitary application, and gain access to physical computer resources via the master operating system.

3.4 Client-side Hosted Virtual Desktops

Client-side hosted desktops run virtual machines as a layer on top of a current operating system. This type of hosted desktop allows users to access the virtual machine without the need to be connected to a network.

3.5 Application Virtualisation

Application virtualisation is the process of separating an application from the operating system used by a physical device by storing the application within a virtual environment. This allows for multiple applications to be used on a device without them having to be installed on the device.


4 Popular Virtualised Products

4.1 Amazon Workspaces

Amazon Workspaces is a Desktop-as-a-Service product which runs under the company’s subsidiary brand Amazon Web Services (AWS). Launched in May 2014, Amazon Workspaces has seen continued development. Now with monthly and hourly billing options, the product has become fully integrated with several other virtualised services offered by AWS, including its alert and monitoring product Cloud Watch.

4.2 Cisco

Cisco’s DaaS is a cloud virtualisation software for hosting desktops specifically geared towards medium to large businesses. Cisco provides this service in tiers as a modular cloud infrastructure, meaning it is totally customisable and scalable, and makes for easy budgeting. Cisco’s DaaS also supports application hosting, meaning there is shared access to apps without having to use the storage of each device that requires to use them by saving them individually.f

4.3 XenDesktop

XenDesktop is the name given to the suite of desktop virtualisation programmes developed by Citrix. Creating an early version of XenDesktop in 2000, the product was released commercially when developer Ian Pratt founded his own company, XenSource, in 2004. The product name was changed to XenDesktop after Citrix acquired XenSource in 2007, with Citrix releasing software updates each year that continue to enhance the user experience.

4.4 dinHVD

dinHVD is a complete hosted virtual desktop product developed by cloud company dinCloud. With a relatively easy setup, dinHVD is ideal for smaller businesses that may not have the resources for an entirely virtualised environment managed in-house. The software offers both type 1 and type 2 storage, giving peace of mind in knowing that files can be accessed offline.

4.5 VMware Horizon

VMware Horizon is a virtual desktop solution developed for commercial use by VMware Inc. It gives users remote access to their desktop operating systems, usually Microsoft operating systems, via VMware’s virtualisation technology. VMware offer Horizon in different tiers and different price plans dependent on volume and budget requirements.

4.6 Azure

Formerly released in 2010 as Windows Azure, Microsoft Azure is a computer virtualisation service developed and managed by technology and computer conglomerate Microsoft. Azure provides several virtualisation options, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, and Platform-as-a-Service products.

4.7 Desktop Monster

Desktop Monster is an award-winning hosted desktop solution developed in 2014 by office technology sales and service provider Midshire. The virtual product provides customers with a desktop that can be securely accessed on any device by using the Citrix platform.


5. Hosted Virtual Desktop Providers

5.1 Citrix Systems

Citrix Systems Inc. is an American software company that provides several cloud computing technologies to over 330,000 organisations around the world. Founded in Texas in 1989 by Ed Lacobucci, the company is now based in Florida, California, and Santa Clara, and has over 8000 employees worldwide.

Citrix offers virtualised application, desktop, and server software for use on devices that can remotely connect to the software, such as PC’s, laptops, and tablets.

5.2 VMware Inc.

A subsidiary of American multinational corporation Dell Technologies since 2004, VMware provides platform virtualisation and cloud computing software and services from its headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

The company was founded in 1998 by Diane Greene, Edouard Bunion, Ellen Wang, Mendel Rosenblum and Scott Devine to release its first product in the following year, the VMware Workstation, which used hypervisors to set up virtual machines on a physical machine.

Today, VMware is known globally for its hypervisors.

5.3 Microsoft

Headquartered in Washington, the Microsoft corporation is a global entity that develops, manufactures, and supports computing software and hardware.

The company was officially established as Microsoft in 1975 by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Their vision led to world renowned computer hardware such as the Microsoft Surface and Xbox video games consoles, and software such as the Microsoft Office Suite, Explorer and Edge web browsers, and the Windows operating system.

5.4 Amazon

Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, the Seattle based multinational company Amazon.com, known as Amazon, is the largest internet retailer in the world in both market share and total sales. The company began by delivering and selling books, later expanding this service to include almost all popular consumer items enjoyed by people today, including: electronics, food, jewelry, furniture, and clothing.

5.5 Parallels

The American cloud and virtualisation company Parallels was founded in 1999 so offer products that allow multiple operating systems and desktop user interfaces to run on computers and laptops. Parallels Inc. was acquired by SWsoft in 2004, simultaneously releasing one of its flagship products, the Parallels Workstation. In 2008 Parallels was merged with SWsoft, becoming one company under Parallels branding.

Parallels is currently headquartered in Washington, and employs over 800 people across 15 global offices including the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, China, and Russia.


6. How Does a Hosted Desktop Work?

A hosted virtual desktop works by running the user’s desktop and applications on a server hosted by the service provider as opposed to on the user’s device. Typically, users will access their hosted desktop via provider applications over a secure internet connection.

Once installed, the login process is simple, it may vary slightly depending on the platform and provider chosen, but all share a similar basic format:

Step 1: Login Page

Once the software is installed and licenses have been approved and paid for, anyone wishing to access their hosted virtual desktop should visit the login page by entering the url into the address bar at the top of the web browser they are using. Once there, users should enter their credentials into the relevant field and click login.

Step 2: Receiver

Once logged in, users will be prompted to install the received software that allows them to remote into the provider’s servers and gain access to their desktop.

Users will only have to install this software ONCE per device. Once greeted with the install link, click install, and once the pop up window appears, click save file.

Step 3: Installation

Once the file has downloaded, open the file by locating it in the downloads folder and double click it, a prompt asking to install it should appear. If the user has strict security settings on their device, then they may be asked to confirm to make changes to the device they’re using. Once installed navigate back to the browser and open the provider’s software.

Step 4: Home Screen

If step two and three have already been completed, the user will automatically be logged in and arrive at their homepage. Once logged in, typical desktop use and processes can begin


7. What are the Benefits of a Hosted Virtual Desktop

Hosted desktop technology has developed substantially over the past few years, at the same pace as the larger cloud computing sphere and becoming a mainstream corporate product. Many businesses are still hesitant to embrace the trend, however hosted virtual desktops can benefit organisations in many ways.

7.1 Accessibility and Mobility

Hosted virtual desktops provide an unprecedented level of mobility. They allow users to access their business files and data anywhere in the world, and on any device. They also let the end users access their files at any time, meaning they can log in to their portable laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones and be up and running and ready to work immediately. Hosted desktops therefore also give businesses new opportunities to employ remote workers and by embracing bring your own device policies. The user may also run an operating system on their device, including those not originally provided with the device. For example, a Windows operating system could run on an Apple Mac, giving users the opportunity to access an interface that works best for them.

7.2 Productivity and Efficiency

Hosted desktop technology can also increase uptime, productivity, and efficiency. By utilising workers that operate remotely, employees save on the time they would usually spend commuting, and businesses can tap into the talent of a wider geographical area, which would increase productivity and lead to a higher quality of work. Additionally, hosted desktops store data in a data centre managed by the provider, meaning that a business’ data is stored centrally and not across multiple devices. Because files are centralised, workforce collaboration is a lot easier as staff do not have to wait for their colleagues to send files.

Furthermore, hosted desktops use the latest innovations in software to bring efficient working to businesses, providing users with an up-to-date and simplistic interface. The simplicity of the technology used by virtual desktop providers means that the service is completely scalable, and easy to do so. This benefits businesses that anticipate sustained periods of growth as it causes no disruption to processes, and therefore does not impact productivity and efficiency.

7.3 Support

Businesses, particularly smaller businesses, tend to struggle with data storage and supporting the server it is stored on. Because hosted desktop providers store business files remotely, they usually provide support as part of their package. This means that instead of having to hire someone to manage an internal server, and therefore only have access to the expertise of one person that may be unable to cope with demand, businesses can have access to the a team of experts hired by the provider.

7.4 Security

Another benefit of hosted virtual desktops is security, and their use foremost as a form of data backup. This would be useful in the instance of disaster, either human (accidental deletion), or natural (fires, flooding), because files are stored in an off-site data centre so there would be no risk of files being permanently lost.

Additionally, if business devices such as laptops are stolen, thieves would not be able to take important files as they would be stored away from the devices hard drive. As well as storing important files away from the device, the security measures within the hosted desktop interface are also strict, allowing businesses to lock down files and folders. This would only permit authorised staff access to those files, and data encryption technology usually means businesses do not have to worry about staff connecting to unsecure networks.

7.5 Cost

Perhaps the main reason a business would choose to implement a hosted virtual desktop is cost. To have an onsite server companies would be met with an upfront capital cost upwards of £10,000, and the ongoing energy and support costs could be a significant drain on finances. By outsourcing storage and support from a hosted desktop provider, huge initial savings can be made. An additional bonus of outsourcing support is that staff can focus on the betterment of the business as opposed to trying to fix internal IT issues.

Lastly, the ease of scaling the service up or down means that budgeting is simple, most providers offer the service at a fixed cost per user.


8. Who can Benefit from Hosted Virtual Desktops?

Hosted desktops are designed to make everyday business processes simpler and more efficient, this is a useful improvement for any type of business. Some key industries are detailed below:

8.1 New Businesses

The main reason that a small or start-up company would choose to implement a hosted desktop service is to keep costs low. As mentioned in the previous section, on-site servers are a significant upfront cost, and ongoing upkeep, maintenance, and the running energy costs would be cost-ineffective for smaller businesses. By using a hosted desktop service upfront server costs, and the need to hire on-site support staff would be eliminated as both are outsourced at a fixed monthly price from the hosted desktop provider.

Hosted virtual desktops also benefit newer businesses by allowing them to scale up or down the service during sustained periods of growth, or slower months. This removes the added pressure of getting new starters up-to-date with complicated business software, or paying for such software if staff leave.

Lastly, the accessibility of a hosted desktop suits the potential movement of a smaller organisation. There may not be a need to have a fixed premises for staff to work from with start-up companies, and hosted desktops mean staff can work from home, or at customer sites and still have access to all of their important business files at the click of a button. This also means staff have constant access to files if the business needs to relocate to bigger offices or a different geographical location.

8.2 Large Corporates

Large Corporates tend to have a significant number of employees, who all need to be able to communicate effectively and work collaboratively. By using a hosted desktop as a communications tool, larger companies can connect their staff with centrally stored business data. This means that working on team projects is easier as staff do not have to wait for their colleagues to share files stored on their personal devices.

Perhaps the biggest reason that a larger organisation would choose a hosted desktop service is data security. Larger companies have often spent decades building a reputation that has allowed them to grow as big as they have, this can all be tarnished by a data leak. Hosted desktops use data encryption technology and the most innovative protection protocols to ensure data is safe. Some providers will also store data in the UK, meaning that no matter where employee logs in in the world, the provider adheres to strict UK data protection laws to ensure data is safe.

8.3 Multi-site and Franchise

When a multi-site or franchise organisation implements a hosted virtual desktop, an initial benefit is a major reduction in costs. Rolling out servers at each site, and hiring support staff to maintain those servers would be an extremely high capital expense. Because providers usually offer support and centralised off-site server storage as standard, this typically high setup cost would be drastically reduced. Additionally, the outsourcing of support means that multi-site businesses choosing a hosted desktop would have access to an entire team of support staff. This would allow them to tap into the expertise of several people as opposed to the knowledge of one internal support technician, and allows employees to work towards business goals, as opposed to trying to fix IT issues.

Accessibility and mobility is a major benefit for companies operating from several sites. Staff all need to be able to access important files, and work together if need be. A hosted desktop, being utilised via an internet connection, means that employees can access their desktop and the files within at any office or location that the business operates in.

Security is a frequent concern for franchise organisations because staff will be required to move around, and the business can never be certain of what networks staff are connecting to, or where their crucial files are going. Hosted desktops use internet encryption and the latest innovative software to ensure that data is safe no matter where it goes. They often allow for certain files and folders to be locked down so that only certain sites or staff can have access to them.

8.4 Sales

Companies that employ an army of sales staff usually expect their office to be vacant whilst those staff are away at customer sites or at meetings. A hosted desktop service allows staff that work in the field to access business files on any of their devices, such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones, removing the need for them to come back to the office at inconvenient times for paperwork.

Furthermore, most hosted desktop providers will offer tiered or partitioned storage plans ideal for companies with a lot of mobile workers. This means that a personal storage allowance would help staff with storing customer details, presentations, or quotes, and a larger shared storage allowance would be given for shared projects.

8.5 Healthcare

The healthcare industry, from small doctors’ surgeries to large multi-campus hospitals, has patient confidentiality at the heart of anything they do. It is for the purposes of data security then, that they may wish to use a hosted desktop service. Whether it be at various hospital buildings, or the homes of patients, a hosted desktop would allow medical staff to access their files from any device and at any location. Because staff may be connecting to unsecure networks, the secure technology used by virtual desktop providers protects data from unauthorised people, allowing them to lock down files so that internal data breaches cannot occur.

Additionally, medical staff can drastically reduce their paper trail, or even the need to carry heaps of paperwork around campus or to consultations at all with a hosted desktop. Doctors can simply log in at any computer and have instant access to their files, removing the need to move around site to access personal computers.

8.6 Professional Services

Companies that offer professional services, such as financial or legal, can benefit from hosted desktop software in several ways. Firstly, important industry-specific applications such as Sage, Digita, or IRIS for accountancy firms, can be migrated into the hosted desktop software, making normal working practices easier than ever, and conveniently all in one place. Most providers will also automatically update software and applications meaning that professional organisations can use the most up-to-date technology on their devices without having to consciously remember to upgrade manually.

Accountancy and law firms handle sensitive client information from day-to-day, if that data was breached or leaked in any way then it could be detrimental to a reputation that could have taken decades to build. Some hosted virtual desktop providers will store data in UK data centres, so data is near impossible to steal due to strict UK data protection laws before security measures are even brought into the equation.

The software used to protect data stored in hosted desktops is usually the most innovative, and is automatically updated to remain ahead of the latest data security threats. Important business files can also be locked down, so professional firms can grant files or folder access to solicitors or accountants, but keep office staff out to reduce the likelihood of breaches.

8.7 Charities

Charities will often require volunteers to work flexible hours and from various locations. Hosted desktops provide charities with an unprecedented level of accessibility to their files by letting them use business documents from anywhere in the world, and at any time on any of their personal devices.   

The fact that charity workers will use personal devices can be a security concern in itself. Data saved insecurely on individual devices is at a much higher risk of theft than that stored on a hosted desktop because the files are not on the hard drive of the device.

Lastly, most hosted desktop providers will offer a discounted rate for charities, so the software can be cost effective for non-profit organisations. Additionally, the need to hire support staff that ensure business processes and devices run smoothly is removed with a hosted desktop, as charities will have access to the provider’s team of support personnel.  


9. Things to Consider when Choosing a Hosted Desktop

When it comes to selecting a hosted desktop service provider, it is critical for businesses to consider a whole host of criteria to ensure they are getting the best possible deal. The main things to look out for are detailed below:

9.1 Cost

Firstly, price packages are a good starting point. Businesses should check to see how any prospective providers pricing works and whether it is flexible. Flexible price plans would mean that should a business need to scale the hosted desktop service up or down they can do so without having to worry about extra hidden fees.

It is also worth checking how the provider actually charges its customers. Do they have a charge per user? It would be more cost effective to select a provider that charges per user as this would mean businesses only pay for what they use.

When looking at the cost per user charge, it is important to examine how the provider allocates storage. Some will offer low personal storage to be used by each individual and charge extra if it is exceeded, whilst other providers will give a high allowance of both personal and shared storage and notify businesses when they are close to their limit. Ensuring that a provider with completely transparent pricing plans is selected is key to getting the most out of the service.

9.2 Data

Another key area to look at is where the provider stores data. Most companies offering hosted desktops will claim that they keep business data extremely safe, but will use off-shore data centres to keep their costs low. When data crosses UK borders, it is no longer legally required to adhere to strict UK data protection laws, so be sure to select a company that keeps data in a country that is legally obliged to protect customer data to a high standard. It is also important to know what the provider’s back up policy is, and procedures in case of a disaster and data needs to be accessed.

9.3 Support

Hosted desktop companies come in all shapes and sizes, and cater to organisations of all sizes, selecting a provider that can support all of those businesses is vital. Firstly, it would be wise to consider how many employees the provider has, and how many companies they support. If the provider got a request for help from all of those businesses, could they cope given the number of people they employ? If they get several requests at once how do they prioritise tickets? Do emergencies jump up the queue?

Next businesses should compare how providers actually offer support. Some will give a certain number of hours as standard, but charge per hour for support exceeding that, or charge for a block of hours after their standard allowance. Lastly, is support offered during normal working hours? What happens if support is required out of those hours? Selecting a provider with a 24-hour support hotline would be beneficial.

9.4 Service Level Agreements

When signing contracts for any service, all businesses should familiarise themselves with the service level agreements of companies they wish to solicit the services of. This would give a good sense of what to expect from the prospective provider. First, examine what guarantees and objectives the company is offering, is there a clear definition of what the service is? There should be a clarity of their processes, and they should be able to evidence that they monitor how their service is being delivered.

Secondly, being completely aware of the support to be expected, and the escalation process if issues aren’t remedied appropriately is paramount. This will give any organisation a good idea of how seriously the provider will handle their business and its unique requirements.

Lastly, ask what the provider’s data protection policies are, do they explicitly guarantee that data will be safe and private? What are the remediation procedures, such as penalties, if data is accidentally breached? Data protection policies should include access, locations, confidentiality, and usage rights.

9.5 Awards and Accreditations

MCSA – Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate

MCSA’s are globally recognised professional accreditations given by Microsoft. Because they are earned by passing rigorous exams, MCSA’s guarantee that the provider employs technically trained staff.
MCSA: Cloud Platform – specifically demonstrates expertise in cloud related technology and the awardee’s commitment to reducing IT costs and adding value for businesses.

MCP – Microsoft Certified Partner

Another accreditation to look out for from Microsoft is the MCP, it shows that a firm offers Microsoft products and services, and is technically trained to support them.

A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner – is awarded to the most advanced and trustworthy technical support providers.

Citrix Certifications

Much like the above Microsoft certifications, Citrix Education offers companies extensive courses and training in using its own products and solutions. When choosing a hosted desktop provider be sure to check for accreditations like CCA-V (Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualisation), and CCP-V (Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualisation).

CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate

A CCNA certificate is a specific information technology award created and given by Cisco. It ensures that the potential service provider is completely and thoroughly trained to sell and support its systems.

ISO – International Organisation for Standardisation

The International Organisation for Standardisation is a global body that offers accreditations in all sectors and industries that show a business’ commitment to a standard level of service and product quality. By choosing a hosted desktop provider with ISO certificates businesses are guaranteed an industry accepted service baseline.


10. The Future of Hosted Desktops and Cloud Computing

As technology makes inroads into becoming smaller, more efficient, and more useful, hosted desktop and cloud technology will be more widely adopted. Firstly, traditional computer hardware will change in the immediate future, meaning the way people use hosted desktop technologies will change. The PC tower will be all but replaced by more portable devices like laptops, tiny computers, and thin client devices that remote into virtualised hardware.

The machines that power hosted desktops are predicted to learn, and pave the way for severless architectures. Hosted desktops are essentially a storage medium, they will eventually be able to analyse and prepare data for human analysts, enabling people to use the data for its intended purpose as opposed to preparing data for days prior. Serverless infrastructures will come with learned machines and scale hosted desktops up or down as needed, as the machines will know just how much infrastructure is required.

Hosted desktop and cloud computing developers will also make more of a concerted effort to improve end user experience. This will include companies that embrace employee-owned or bring your own device policies, allowing staff to securely work from whatever operating system they want regardless of the machine they’re working on. A major leap in functionality will come when hosted desktops provide a solution to the online/offline problem. Everyone is going to need offline capabilities, at least until global internet access has reached a more acceptable standard, so providers will eventually offer this benefit to enable offline working, in one form or another.

Lastly, a more competitive industry with advanced start-up companies will lead to a massive reduction in costs. Leaps in the technology used by hosted desktops, such as low-power processors, will also drive lower costs because provider energy costs will be lower. This will also lead to hosted desktop providers finding ways of making up costs in other areas, such as account management or service.

Some specific technologies that will lead to a wider use of hosted desktop and cloud computing software have been listed below:

Inverse Cloud Models

Inverse Cloud models transmit data via inter-router communication. This will replace the method used today (router – to server – back to the router – then to the device), and aim to reduce latency and slow internet speeds.

HALO – High Altitude Long Operation

HALO is the deploying of lightweight aircraft to provide a stable internet connection to a 60-mile radius of ground below. Because the aircraft provide a connection from above there would be a huge reduction in signal interference.

Drones

This would see lightweight drones with massive wingspans deployed at over 65,000 feet to provide an internet connection to the ground below. The drones would be powered by solar energy, and leave a minimal environmental footprint, and with the first solar-powered aircraft circumnavigating the Earth in 2016, this technology is already becoming a reality.

Project Loon

An ambitious project being development by Google is Loon. It will aim to deploy a network of giant balloons at strategic locations around the globe to provide internet access to people below.


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