Virtual Desktops have been around for a few years but just recently the technology has really taken off and is starting to save even smaller companies money and downtime!
The gist of a virtual desktop is the desktop is running on a server and then you use a small device to connect to the desktop.
This device is small and compact. It doesn’t have any moving parts or any complex operating system and you can use it anywhere outside of your main network without a VPN to connect to your desktop securely.
Cook Wealth Management was looking for a cost effective way for remote workers to connect into the network from their remote offices. They had three people working remotely and currently they need to connect in with a VPN or have a firewall / router in the office to connect into the main office and keep a secure VPN tunnel all the time.
When we needed to upgrade the firewalls then the equipment in the remote office needed to be updated as well. This was time intensive and expensive when the main firewall and remote firewalls reached end of life support by the manufacturers.
The second issue was every time we needed to replace a desktop in the office due to a hard drive failing, or an operating system crash or upgrade then they were spending a few thousand to purchase a new desktop machine typically from Dell. Also if they got a new employee they needed to purchase a new desktop. They wanted to reduce this cost.
After looking at several solutions we decided to implement a virtual desktop environment for them from VM Ware.
The advantage to using a virtual desktop system is all the desktops run on a fully redundant server which is less likely to fail like a traditional desktop. The server has multiple hard drives, multiple power supplies, and CPUs for performance.
The server we spec-ed out for them had 128 GIGs of Ram and 6 Hard drives for a total of 4 TB of space. It is set to run 10 virtual desktops running Windows 7.
The thin client they have at each of their desks is a HP thin client and runs around $280 which is MUCH MUCH less than a traditional PC which usually starts at about $2500 for a decent desktop.
So each user’s desk went from having a large desktop to something as simple as this:
Each of these setups are capable of running dual screens and the setup for all the remote users is exactly the same.
These small thin clients connect into the main server through the firewall using a protocol called PCoIP which is secure as the VPN was. The remote firewalls have been removed and they use secure PCoIP connections. So when they get a new employee all we have to do is purchase a thin client and the virtual desktop is ready for them in minutes.
The upfront cost of purchasing a large server and Microsoft Licensing to run a virtual environment is an investment you will have to make in the beginning but over time it will save you money in costly desktop equipment. More importantly it saves them a significant amount in downtime. When an employee’s system crashed they could be down for an entire day, that is lost productivity for the entire company. With all desktops running on a highly robust server the chance of unforeseen downtime is greatly reduced.
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