Remote applications, virtual desktops and hosted QuickBooks

Cloud computing and SaaS applications are all the rage, and businesses are finding tremendous benefits with the mobility and managed service these models provide.  On the other hand, there also continues to be huge reliance on the desktop computer and the software running on it. From basic productivity tools to more advanced business solutions, desktop-based software and locally installed applications remain in favor for the vast majority of businesses around the country.  Adoption of web-based solutions is certainly increasing, but the need for tried-and-true business applications that were traditionally installed and managed directly on the PC or local network doesn’t seem to be going away. At least part of the reason for this is the functionality and performance these applications deliver.  Another factor is that hosting and remote access solutions have matured to the point where hosting applications is just as “mainstream” (and often more useful to the business) as using a SaaS solution. Managed application hosting models have made solutions like Microsoft Office and QuickBooks desktop editions available anytime, anywhere and using just about any device. I call hosting the best “tweener” solution available, because users can have the functionality they need and still get fully managed, on-demand service.

Back when a few businesses started operating as Application Service Providers (ASPs), there were a limited number of realistic approaches available for building the platform to deliver desktop applications.  Many application hosting offerings grew somewhat like a fungus from the internal Citrix Metaframe and terminal service set ups performed by IT service companies.   A lot of these companies didn’t start out to provide application hosting services; they simply found it to be more efficient and profitable than trying to manage all that hardware and software at the client site.

Over the years, a variety of solutions have been introduced to ease the burdens of implementation and management of desktop applications on centralized platforms, but most of them were designed more for enterprise deployment rather than as the basis for a generalized service offering.  Microsoft’s Remote App and Remote Desktop services, Microsoft and Citrix and Dell (Quest) app virtualization/management/publishing, even streaming and “containerized” applications… there are quite a few options out there and, in some circumstances, they can work pretty well.   What has kept them from working out REALLY well, however, is the cost and complexity of deploying these solutions.  From printing problems to user device support to simply allowing a user to gracefully reset their connection when it gets stuck…  application and desktop delivery platforms can be very difficult to set up and manage.

My team works with a number of solutions which address these aspects of application and desktop delivery, bringing the functionality to a level where small businesses and their IT service providers can easily set up secure remote access and hosting environments that actually work.  This includes addressing the printing facilities, user management, app and desktop publishing, workspaces administration, and connection management that makes a remote desktop or app deployment useful. For IT folks, the fact that no special firewall configurations are required and that a static IP address is not needed means that our solution for on-prem can work where many VPNs and web portals can’t.

Remote Desktop services (Terminal services) is the most widely recognized approach for creating “virtual” desktop or hosted application services.  It solves many of the problems involved in centralizing the management and administration of computing resources and applications for broad bases of users, and it’s pretty much the only game in town when it comes to putting traditional desktop applications online (or putting the desktop online).  This approach, which is essentially packing all of the computing requirement into a centralized infrastructure, is the most effective method of addressing the total business requirement (e.g., hosting all the business applications with associated data, administering user security and access, and managing the entire system) at any significant scale.  Each of these methods of providing managed applications require that the entire realm of solutions – the main applications, all integrations, drivers for devices to be supported, and all associated data – exist on the service provider servers and under the service provider’s control.

Our services deliver a simple and straightforward set up so you begin using the platform right away; seamless and affordable.

Joanie Mann Bunny FeetMake Sense?

J

Mobilizing QuickBooks Desktops

 Hosted QuickBooks for Remote and Mobile Access

There was a time not too long ago when the “thought leaders” in information technology said that the desktop is dead, and all software will be accessed via the web. (Note: I put “thought leaders” in quotes because industry thought leaders are often those with the greatest media influence.  After all, you can’t lead them if you can’t reach them, right?). The whole no software thing is a dramatic oversimplification of what is happening with computer software, but one thing is kind of coming true: nobody wants to be tied to their desktop.  It’s not that the desktop is dead… it’s just not all there is. For users of the desktop editions of Intuit QuickBooks software, the question really isn’t whether they intend to give up their familiar and trusted software to use a different, online solution. The question is how to use the QuickBooks desktop software they want in the cloud so they can use it on desktops that aren’t the primary desktop computer, or on mobile devices.

Computing technology has finally reached a level of accessibility that was previously only imagined in science fiction stories.  Communicating instantaneously with anyone anywhere around the world; accessing extensive (limitless?) libraries of information, art and music with a simple handheld device – these are the things that people do every day without a second thought.  Business users may even be able to access their business documents, email, contacts and appointments etc. from mobile devices, enabling a productive and functional mobile workforce.
desktop-appsYet the desktop remains as the primary workhorse for most business users. This is where the productivity applications live, where large spreadsheets and full-screen applications are run, and where keyboarders and production data entry users operate.  Tablets, touchscreens and mobile devices just don’t provide the same capabilities unless you tether them to full size monitors and keyboards.  Even then they may not because they might not run the same OS as the desktop.  The point is that the desktop hasn’t gone away and isn’t likely to any time soon.  Users may use more mobile apps and devices, but this isn’t diminishing use on the desktop as much as it augmenting it.  This is what fuels the interest in application hosting and virtual desktop computing models – the desire to mobilize desktop and network applications and working environments.

Hosting applications and data gives businesses the flexibility of working in desktop applications and accessing data just as if they were in the office, yet users may be located anywhere there is Internet connectivity. When the applications and the associated data are managed in the datacenter, businesses are able to centralize their information assets and manage them more effectively than if the data were distributed among multiple computers.  While most sync and share solutions require files to be downloaded to local computers in order to open and edit, a hosted application service with virtual desktops and file sharing provides a security model which keeps business data secure yet available for user access without compromising security by downloading information to the user device.

A hosted solution approach can make license utilization more efficient and compliance easier to maintain, too.  By enabling access to applications on a centralized platform and eliminating the installation and maintenance of software on individual computers, businesses reduce the reliance on local IT personnel to install and update applications and user accounts, and improve their ability to control application assignments and usage.

Hosting helps businesses take advantage of technology that would otherwise be unaffordable, and delivers the mobility and centralized management required to boost productivity and contain costs.  There is a high cost to managing a business network, and creating secure mobile access to that network can represent an exponential increase in IT spending (just to initially set up, not to mention ongoing costs for security management, monitoring and support). Rather than taking on the entire burden of service management and delivery directly, businesses electing to work with hosting providers find that they are able to focus more on business operation, strategy and growth – and spend less time worrying about the IT supporting them.  Costs are reduced, workers are empowered, and capabilities are increased while knowledge and process investments are preserved.  When it comes to mobilizing business applications like QuickBooks desktop editions, it all starts with a hosted approach.

Joanie Mann Bunny FeetMake Sense?

J