Internet Solutions (IS) has announced the launch of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution in partnership with Silicon Sky, called Desktop in the Cloud, that delivers Microsoft Windows desktops on a desktop-as-a-service basis. The addition of this hosted desktop solution to the IS suite of cloud services now positions the company as a complete end-to-end corporate cloud-based solution provider.
The IS Desktop in the Cloud solution uses a VMware virtualisation platform with a Microsoft Windows remote desktop session (RDS) terminal to deliver virtualised desktops on demand, in a thin client environment, on a per user basis. The solution is managed centrally by IS and can be easily integrated with other backend application, database or ERP systems hosted with IS, offering seamless integration.
“While the focus of cloud computing has traditionally been on the mobility it enables, the advantages offered by cloud-based desktops extend much deeper,” explains Graeme O’Driscoll, innovation and technology manager for the cloud at IS.
“The real benefit of cloud-based desktops lies in the reduced maintenance requirements and the enhanced capabilities that this technology offers.”
O’Driscoll explains that IS’ ability to centrally manage thousands of desktops means that all software updates, security and troubleshooting can be managed remotely, as IS technicians can be granted access to the users’ workstations in real time and access applications to sort out any issues. There is now also more control over what gets loaded onto a work desktop environment.
“This vastly reduces the human capital requirements within internal IT departments, as technicians no longer need to be on site to work on individual physical workstations when something breaks, which adds to the cost saving benefits realised from the reduced hardware needs.
“As the Desktop in the Cloud solution is a super-light application, user terminals no longer need a hard drive or moving parts, so there is very little that can break. This means that companies can now ‘sweat’ their assets and make them last longer, to significantly improves desktop lifecycle management.”
The solution also makes a user’s desktop applications and functions automatically available on any device, regardless of platform. “This plays an important role in ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery, as all the company applications and information is now stored in the cloud,” explains O’Driscoll.
“Even if the physical building that houses the hardware is destroyed, all the data is stored off-site and is immediately accessible from another device. Back ups of user data is also done automatically, so there is no longer a need for manual backups, which improves compliance.”
This also means that, should a device get stolen or the hardware compromised, information is protected and not lost.
“This is an important aspect in light of the Protection of Private Information Act, which would require that a user contact every person who had personal information stored on a stolen or compromised device. Cloud-based desktops are also the final piece in the mobility puzzle, as employees are now truly empowered to work from anywhere,” he continues.
“They can access their desktop from anywhere, from any device, in the same format and configuration that they are used to, while still experiencing a rich user experience. This creates further workforce efficiency through consistency and the ability to always be connected to the desktop.”
IS has ensured the delivery of this rich user experience through the reduced bandwidth protocol used by the solution. “It is common for other VDIs to have a high bandwidth requirement, of up to 160kbps; however, we have managed to get ours down to 12kbps per session,” says O’Driscoll.
“This means that clients don’t need to upgrade their lines and network to use this service, and we have even been able to reduce traffic over the office network through various proof of concept test, as applications can be consolidated in the cloud and run on a per office basis.
“The LAN speed therefore becomes more efficient, as applications are no longer talking to each other on this connection and the network only needs to handle key strokes and screen refreshes.”
The Desktop in the Cloud solution will be available to IS clients from the 01 October and comes in two packages. The Lite package comes with the Microsoft Office suite and gives users access to Internet, which is limited in total traffic to 100Gb per month.
“Each user is also given 10Gb of storage that can be provisioned either as a quota per user or aggregate it across all users,” concludes O’Driscoll. The Lite version also comes with anti-virus and full backups of all user data.
The Pro package has a 2Gb hosted Exchange mailbox, with mail archiving and Symantec Mail Hygienine, and also offers clients the ability to connect with their BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It also comes standard with the Microsoft Office suite. Both packages are billed on a per user basis, and include all monitoring and support through the IS Global Service Centre.