Hosted desktop, what’s the point?


business networking
Hosted Desktop

I keep coming across small businesses that are buying into hosted desktop services because someone told them it was a good idea.

What am I missing? I really don’t get the value this adds. Quite the reverse, I look on in incredulity at the self inflicted pain of a user trying to run YouTube in a web browser on a “hosted desktop” service back to their local desktop.

Of course there is short term value in rolling out thin-client hardware and managing central hosted desktops for some larger organisations. These are the poor folks who through inertia, regulatory pressures, or just downright lack of imagination are stuck with running labyrinthine suites of legacy Windows executable software that was conceived in a previous era. Presenting and maintaining a complex configuration of kranky desktop software, often customised on a user role basis, is probably best done by turning the whole steaming heap into a hosted service in it’s own right, consumed from a simplified desktop. I get that.

What I really don’t understand is why more agile, and otherwise unencumbered businesses are being sold desktop PCs on which they then consume hosted desktops, on which they then consume other cloud services over the Internet. What is the point of that in 2015? why not have them consume the hosted web based services directly on a local thin desktop. When I ask this question of folks that are selling this stuff I get a lot of hand waving about access control, security, central configuration. None of it at all convincing. As far as I can see the value is a bit asymmetric as in “it is our only way of getting a slice of the x per seat per month market, after all if we don’t sell customers a hosted desktop then all the valuable recurring revenue just goes to Microsoft, Google et-al and we are left in the commodity business of swapping out dead mice and keyboards”.

That’s all very well, but at some stage the SME customer is going to work out that rendering the UI of their largely web based and increasingly media rich applications through some external server somewhere, just slower than if they were consuming the service directly in a local client is the reverse of adding value.

There must be some compelling pain point that these services resolve to make them saleable, so folks who are deploying them, what is the big enhancement they bring?

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