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.