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Whether you’re a business owner, IT decision maker, IT consultant or the engineer on the ground running round fixing issues, your life could be made a lot easier by moving to a hosted desktop solution.
I’ve drawn up a top 10 list of problems, in no particular order, and then lumped a few more problems solved by the solution at the end.
No 1. Software Updates
For small businesses updating software on PCs is a problem. Fair enough if you’ve got the skills and systems to package them up and automatically distribute them, but for most small businesses this isn’t practical. Many a long hour is spent visiting every PC and running an upgrade or re-install. It’s also unproductive interrupting the users, and what if, once you’ve started, you have to do everyone before anyone can use the new version. That’s a lot of disruption.
With a hosted desktop you just have to update the applications once on the remote desktop server and everyone gets the new version, instantly.
No 2. Malware
Viruses, spyware, adware can cause havoc on your network; at best they can slow down PCs or disrupt working and at worst they can destroy all your data and that is a problem. On a hosted remote desktop environment it is much harder to get malware. Users don’t have the permissions to accidentally install anything and the servers are protected by the latest anti-virus definitions. Vigilance is still important though as new viruses can propagate round before anti-virus fixes are written.
If users get malware on their desktop PC the safest option has always been to reformat the disk and reinstall everything. So having a hosted desktop means there’s nothing to install on the PC, just get Windows back up and running and you’re back in business.
For added security and lower TCO use thin client PCs that have write filters and can be re-imaged within minutes.
No 3. Data security and theft of devices
How many times have you read news reports where sensitive personal or commercial data has been lost because someone left their laptop or memory stick on a train? Even with modern cloud storage many people sync data locally to their laptop. With a hosted desktop platform nothing is saved on the device, no data, and no documents. Even if you’ve set your connection to remember your password you can get your password reset in seconds with a call to the helpdesk.
Information in transit across the Internet is secured using 256bit encryption. Data and systems are only ever held in our UK data centres and we’re certified for ISO 27001 Information Security Management System.
No 4. Backups
Every company I can think of, that has on site IT, has a backup solution in place – great, but I would bet that every one of them gets failed backups either occasionally or frequently. Many will check daily to make sure backups are run, many don’t. Some will know how to resolve the issues causing the backup to fail, most won’t. A lot of companies require people to take backup tapes home with them for safety, something that is easily forgotten.
Did you know that the only way you can really protect yourself against the escalating scourge of ransomware attacks is to have working backups.
Our hosted desktop solution includes backups to a separate site as part of the service, and your documents are backed up 3 times a day so that older versions can be recovered if you accidentally delete one.
No 5. Bring your own devices
You run an IT department with a small budget, you need to get the most out of all the computers you look after, as well as keeping everything secure. But, users complain that the PCs are slow, they need to use a tablet, they want a laptop etc. etc. They all complain that the stuff they use at home is better, faster and they want to use them for business use. Well, why not? A hosted desktop solution will work on practically anything. Nothing is installed or stored on a user’s device, so it’s perfectly secure. Give users the option to bring their own devices – just make sure they’re happy to support them.
No 6. Operational Agility, Scalability, Growth Capacity
I’ll include in this heading the lack of strategic planning in IT or the reluctance for business leaders to include IT in their business planning discussions. This leads to the inevitable situation where the investments made in IT would have been so different if only the IT managers knew what plans the business leaders had in mind.
Cloud computing in general and hosted desktops specifically are designed to be flexible and scalable. So you can deal with the unexpected. It costs no more per user to have 100 users or 1000. Additional users, resources, storage can be bought online as soon as needed, and crucially, they can be scaled back just as quickly. Something that can’t be done with on premise IT.
No 7. Upfront Investment
How many of us (consumers or businesses) are fortunate enough to be able to buy the technology we want rather than what we can afford. IT infrastructure is expensive; the skills to implement it is expensive; replacing it all in a few years’ time is expensive. Inevitably you either overspend to allow for growth, or underspend (because you haven’t got the budget) and then spend again when growth happens, either way is inefficient.
Cloud hosted desktops are an Operating Expenditure and you only pay for what you need, so there is no waste and no risk. This includes licences for Windows CALs and Remote Desktop CALs as well as applications such as Office.
No 8. Risks
What is the cost to your business of system downtime, what if you couldn’t operate for a day or a week? How do you mitigate these risks if you’re running your own IT? Support contracts, hardware support, redundant hardware, disaster recovery sites?
The alternative is to let your hosted desktop provider mitigate the risks. With hundreds of customers on the platform the cost of redundant hardware for example is shared amongst everyone, there will be a team of people on hand to fix problems and a host of measures to prevent power loss, fire or flood. If downtime exceeds the service level agreement you will be credited.
No 9. Mobility, remote working, flexible working
This is of course where hosted desktops come into their own. Everything else we’ve discussed is just the icing on the cake; it’s the flexibility to work anywhere that makes hosted desktops the foundation for modern business working. Whether it is multiple branches sharing the same applications; fields workers accessing applications from hotels, customers premises, or in the car (parked of course); or home workers who can enjoy the same systems and functionality as their office bound colleagues. Hosted desktops just need an Internet connection, and it doesn’t need to be an especially fast one. Tether to your mobile phone on 3 or 4g and your good to go.
Under this heading we can include the unexpected need to work at home, children are off sick, heavy snow on the roads, rail or tube strike. All people need is a PC and they can connect via a web browser, they don’t need to set anything up in advance.
No 10. Different operating systems and devices
I used to work for a small wholesale distributor that had a bunch of Windows 3.11 PCs on a small network. They also had a designer who produced the catalogue using a Mac, and nether the twain shall meet. That was 20 years ago and things still haven’t changed much. You may be able to get Office running on a Mac, but try installing Microsoft Project or Sage 50 Accounts. If there’s one big failing of our software giants it is that after all this time they still won’t play nicely together.
At least there is comfort that you can connect to hosted desktops from near enough any modern device. Users of Mac, Windows, iPads, Android, Kindle Fires, Linux, iPhones, etc. can all work on the same applications.
No 11 onwards.
Some more IT issues for small businesses crying out for a hosted desktop solution:
- Disaster readiness
- Application Integration
- Legacy applications – run the version you want.
- Protecting data when disposing of PCs
- Power outage protection
- Licence compliance
- Network downtime
- Inter branch/organisation data sharing
- Access to latest versions of software
- Simplification of IT contracts, no separate contracts for backups, licences, support, insurance, compliance, asset deprecation.
Get in touch today to discuss how hosted remote desktops can solve problems for your business? Give us a call on 01282 500318 or request a call back via our Contact Form.
Good applications deserve good infrastructure and hardware costs can be a barrier. Not just decent desktops to run it on but where applications share data it is vital that the backend infrastructure: database servers, file servers, application or web servers are up to the job.
However, this infrastructure doesn’t come cheap. If you add up the cost of servers, Windows licences, power, cooling, backups, anti-virus, redundancy or DR solutions, consultancy to implement it all, plus ongoing technical support it is a significant investment. The Total Cost of Ownership of your software could make it un-tenable. This is especially true when you take into account the shelf life of the servers and operating systems.
It is these sort of costs that motivate people into adopting “cloud” based applications that just require a web browser to run, regardless of whether that web application is genuinely the best solution for them
Hosted Desktops solve the problem of upfront hardware costs
Desktop based software will continue to provide the optimum way to run business applications and Hosted Desktops provide the ideal platform to run desktop applications without having to stump up thousands in upfront costs.
A typical hosted remote desktop solution will include:
Table Cloth likes this.
- A dedicated Windows server with the right resources (CPU/Memory) to run the application.
- All the surrounding infrastructure – Domain Controllers, Remote Desktop Gateways, Brokers, Certificates, Firewalls, File Servers etc. – to access the application securely over the Internet
- Free Remote Desktop Client software to run the application on any device including Mac, iPad, Android as well as Windows.
- Microsoft Windows Client Access Licences (CALs), Microsoft Remote Desktop CALs
- Managed Anti-Virus, Managed Windows Updates
- Offsite backups of server OS, data and databases
- Instant failover to other hardware if a server should fail
- 24/7 support for critical issues
- 99% or above up-time guarantee
Are you looking for an alternative to Sage because of infrastructure reasons? Then you’re definitely in the right place. By infrastructure this means the computers and networks used to access and share Sage and its data.
Sage has been around a long time and has hundreds of thousands of users, and like any large software company it will have its detractors, just like Microsoft or Google. Often there are posts from people looking for alternatives to Sage, and the reasons vary: For some it is costs, others it will be the complexity, or user experience, for some it is the hassles of upgrading.
One common reason people look for an alternative to Sage is the infrastructure. Where it runs, how it is shared, and more recently how it compares with other “Cloud” based accounting packages. This is where we have an interest; so let’s explore what people want from their Sage infrastructure. In no particular order these are the things people need from the IT infrastructure supporting Sage:
- Ability for multiple users to share and work on the same Sage databases.
- Security of the databases against loss or corruption, i.e. backups and stability.
- Ability to access Sage from multiple branches or sites.
- Ability to share Sage with accountants or bookkeepers.
- Performance and reliability – improving/maintaining productivity.
- Ease of upgrading.
- Access to Sage when working from home, from another site or hotel.
- Access to Sage from Macs or other devices.
Sage in the cloud
Cloud has become the new buzz word for software applications, many of the alternatives snapping at Sage’s heels are solely cloud based. Sage is also utilising the cloud with the introduction of Sage Drive but the feedback we have had about Sage Drive has been mixed. The alternative is also cloud based but instead of being a web based application or a synchronisation tool it is the full Sage application (any version) running completely in the Cloud with nothing of Sage running on the PCs (or Macs).
The solution is known as Hosted Remote Desktops or simply Hosted Desktops or Hosted Applications. The Sage desktop application and the database all run on hosted servers and the users connect to it over the Internet using a simple remote desktop client application available for any device. Multiple users can all logon at once, as many as your Sage licence permits. The data will be backed up and there will usually be multiple levels of redundancy so you can expect a guaranteed uptime of over 99% from the provider. Your Office Anywhere have an SLA of 99.5%
As people access the Sage application over the internet they can run it from anywhere, and as everything is running on the server if the Internet connection is a bit dodgy there’s no risk of the database being corrupted if it cuts out – something that is a risk with Sage Drive – so you can use it on the train without worry.
There is only one copy of Sage installed on the remote desktop server so upgrading is really easy, you just do it once. The hosted desktop solution will work for any version/edition of Sage and any number of users. It can easily scale for more advanced versions such as Sage 200 that require SQL databases. You can install other applications alongside Sage such as Microsoft Office or any Sage plug-ins/add-ons, or connect to partners using EDI systems. You can easily print or email from the server as well as copying data such as Sage backups to your PC if needed.
So if you like Sage and the only reason you’re looking for an alternative to Sage is the computer hardware needed to run it how you want to run it then this may be the ideal solution.
However, if you do genuinely want an alternative to Sage we do work with other software vendors who supply advanced accounting software, just let us know and we’ll put you in touch
Your Office Anywhere have been hosting Sage for their customers for at least 9 years so if you would like to find out a bit more about how this system works, what the costs are, how secure it is or even try it out for yourself for free just get in touch via our contact page or call us on 01282 500 318.
Cloud hosted desktops make Bring Your Own Device a flexible, popular, cheap and secure option for many businesses.
Yes, I did say secure. I’ve listened to many heated discussions about BYOD over the years and while most people can see the benefits of flexibility, productivity and employee morale the concerns over security and manageability often shackle the business to the status quo. However, hosted desktops or hosted applications can allay many of the Data Security Officer’s worries and provide the user with a familiar working environment regardless of location or device.
Employees are becoming more mobile as connection speeds are increasing and expect to be able to work from hotels, trains and home just as they do in the office. They want their mobile device to be their primary one, very often
opting to use their own phones and tablets in preference to the company desktop.
Forward thinking companies are embracing this new way of working, it has the potential to cut costs as they are not supplying users with multiple devices, there is also an increase in productivity as employees and company owners can effectively work during their daily commute, or at home in the evening, and on devices that they are totally familiar with. It is rare to find a small business owner who doesn’t at least work on his or her emails while on holiday, with hosted desktops they can work on any application.
Hosted Desktops are part of the modern cloud portfolio. Working like a normal PC desktop, the business applications used by the company’s workforce are installed on a cloud based hosted terminal server and connect to the company’s databases and documents which are also on the same hosted server. This is a point worth re-emphasising; all the data, documents, and applications all reside on the cloud server, so there is no need to have any data or any applications on the user’s device. This provides a lot of benefits:
- If a device is stolen the company’s data is not. Even if there was not a security password on the device, the hosted desktop user account can be disabled or password changed within minutes.
- Lost or faulty devices can be replaced and the user back up and running very quickly, without the need to reinstall dozens of applications.
- The desktop environment and applications are the same regardless of which device the user uses to run their hosted desktop
- If internet connection is lost, say while working on a train, the session continues to run on the server. As soon as internet is back the user can continue where they left off, even if they haven’t saved their documents.
- Data is backed up regularly throughout the day, so even if a device was lost, stolen or broken, the presentation the user was working on all evening is still safe.
All in all the Hosted Desktop tips the balance firmly in favour of adopting a BYOD policy and give modern, mobile companies, of any size, the flexibility and security demanded by the business.
Your Office Anywhere are one of the UK’s longest established Hosted Remote Desktop and Hosted Application providers, managing servers for small and medium businesses in secure, tier 3, UK data centres. For more information on Hosted Desktops or on becoming a Hosted Desktop Reseller please follow this link: Hosted Desktop
This is the first of a series of blog posts for UKBF deciphering some of the confusing terminology in cloud computing. This weeks article is all about "Hosted Applications"
Hosted Applications are applications running on computers owned and managed by a hosting provider and accessed via the Internet.
There are several variations of Hosted Applications, and they may alternatively be described using one of the following titles: Software as a Service, Hosted Terminal Services, Internet applications, web applications, remote application, online applications, Remote Desktop Services etc.This article attempts to break these down and explain the differences.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is generally an application written by a software vendor who hosts it on a web server and it is accessed over the Internet using a web browser.Long standing examples of this would be Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Hotmail where users go to a website to see their messages instead of installing a mail application such as Outlook on their computers.
More defined examples might be services like Salesforce or Zoho which are Customer Relationship Management applications accessed over the Internet from browsers instead of the traditional, on premise, “Client-Server” applications.In fact these type of applications are clear examples of where SaaS is replacing the traditional desktop install model.
Software as a Service may also include “services” provided via the Internet to other applications, whether onsite or hosted for example the ability to logon to an application using your Facebook or Twitter account.In this case Facebook is providing the service.
These would all come under the umbrella terms of: Internet based applications, web applications or online applications.
Remote Applications – Hosted Terminal Services
While the SaaS applications are generally designed to run within a browser, some applications require a dedicated “Client” to run them, providing more advanced features and functionality or better performance that can’t be provided within the confines of a browser.Traditionally the client application would have been installed on a local PC and if it required a shared database then this would have been stored on a server on the user’s local network.
Larger organisations with multiple sites all wanting to work on the same database may take advantage of a technology called “Terminal Services”.This enabled the client application itself to be installed on a server near the database but the screen output from that application would be displayed on the users’ desktop at a remote site, so would appear as if it was installed on their PC.
With the recent increase in Internet bandwidth it is now possible to run terminal server based applications over the Internet not just on an organisations Wide Area Network (WAN). Many companies are now hosting their client-server applications “in the cloud” as Hosted Applications allowing them to access then anywhere over the Internet.The terminal server software installed on PCs also have versions for non-Windows devices running Mac, iOS and Android,This means that almost any application can become a “Cloud” application running on any device.
These type of applications come under the umbrella terms of: Remote Apps, Remote Applications, WebApps, Terminal Services applications, and more widely as part of Hosted Desktops or Remote Desktop Services.
Benefits of Hosted Applications?
Three reasons: convenience, security, cost.
By using hosted applications, whether Software as a Service or desktop applications on a hosted terminal services platform businesses have all the convenience and flexibility that cloud computing offers.Meaning they can run applications from anywhere via the Internet
As all the infrastructure is maintained by the hosting provider businesses no longer need to worry about IT, that is someone else’s problem. Hosting providers will be geared up to manage infrastructure on a large scale with redundancy built in along with managed backups, updates, patches and anti-virus.
Changes to applications such as updates or upgrades just have to be done once on the server not on every PC.
With Hosted Applications there is rarely any up-front costs, usually a monthly subscription with perhaps a small setup fee depending upon the complexity of your environment.
Contact Us About Your Hosted Application Today
If you are looking to host a specific application, maybe your current applications need upgrading and you’re looking at a sizeable hardware and licencing bill to support it why not talk to one of our technical sales consultants or visit our hosted applications page to find out more. They are all experienced business people as well as IT professionals so can help find the right cloud solution for your specific requirements.Just call 01282 500318 or fill it our online contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.
If you Google running Microsoft Project on a MAC or iPad you will see many articles explaining that Microsoft don’t do a version for MACs so you can’t run it. Don’t believe it, yes you can, and here’s how.
This article comes under the category of “Why didn’t I think of that earlier?” The company I work for - Your Office Anywhere - provide Cloud Hosted Desktops and Remote Applications, and one of the common reasons people ask to host their applications with us is that they don’t work on a MAC, particularly programs like Sage 50 Accounts. I had an enquiry from a customer recently to try a demo of hosted Microsoft Project, I set this up for her and she called the next day to say how delighted she was with it and that she’d like to sign up for the service – fantastic. Then she said she had tried the method to run it on a MAC, and that worked great as well which meant she could also run it from her MAC at home. This made me realise that there may be a huge market of people who want to run MS Project on an iPad, MAC or even an Android tablet and just assume you can’t. So this article will explain how, and if it’s helpful to you please share it.
Hosted Desktops look and feel very much like a normal desktop PC you may use in your office or at home. The difference is that everything is running on a computer “In the Cloud” or in actual fact, in a secure UK data centre. All the applications, all the data, and all the processing happens on the cloud servers. All you need is an Internet connection to run the application as if it was installed on your own PC. If you’re an organisation with many users they can all share the same applications and have access to shared data on the server.
Microsoft have brought out the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection client for Apple devices which is available from the Apple App Store. By installing this client you can run the applications on a hosted Windows desktop on your Apple device as if they were running locally. The same applies for the Google Play store for Android devices.
The other beauty of Hosted Desktops is that you are licencing everything on a monthly basis, so if you needed MS Project to help with, well a project, then you just rent it for the duration and cancel once your complete, you don’t need to purchase Project, which let’s face it isn’t cheap (£416 from Amazon at time of writing), and if the project over runs you just carry on renting until it is complete – I am sure you could pass this on if you wanted as a valid “business expense” to your client as well.
Hosted Microsoft Project from Your Office Anywhere is just £29.99 per user per month (even less if you are a charity). If you want to try out a free 2 day risk free demo just call 01282 500318 or email [email protected]
Cloud or online hosting of Microsoft Access databases is becoming more and more popular, and for many businesses it can be a far more flexible and cost effective way of managing and sharing business information than web based alternatives.
However, many companies are unaware of how quick and easy cloud hosting Microsoft Access is, so I wanted to produce a couple of articles on the subject for both businesses wanting to run an Access database online – available here; and also this one for commercial software developers building in Access who want to give their customers a low cost, cloud based, online database option without any investment or re-coding.
This article concentrates on hosting Access databases using hosted Terminal Servers. While there are other Cloud Access methods such as linking to hosted SharePoint sites with Office 365, or even hosted SQL servers, hosted terminal servers provide the best performance and stability as everything is running in the same place.
Users can run the hosted Access application from anywhere and on nearly any device as there are remote desktop clients for Mac, iPads and Android tablets as well as Windows PCs. Some users prefer a full remote desktops but applications can also be run as a “RemoteApp” from an icon on the Start Menu as if they were installed locally, or as “WebApps” launching from a web browser but running in the same way.
Developers may be looking at hosted database options either as a solution for a specific customer or as a service they can offer alongside the software application. For an individual customer a dedicated terminal server is probably the most appropriate option. If however, a developer is looking to provide this as a solution for multiple customers then a multi-tenanted server may be the most cost effective route with different customers running on the same server but protected from each other using security permissions.
Generally Access applications are split into front-end and back-end databases. When running on a terminal server it is common for each user to have a unique front-end application linking to a back-end shared with other users in the same company, this tends to improve performance although it is also possible for users to use the same front-end. By splitting the database it is possible to run the application just using the free Microsoft Access Runtime licence, there is no need to install the full version of Access on the server.
Hosted terminal servers will also allow you to integrate other applications with Access, for example other Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel or Outlook as well as running other non-related applications in the cloud. In fact nearly everything written here applies equally to most other applications.
If the application eventually out-grows Access then connect the application to a dedicated Microsoft SQL Serverinstance in the same datacentre for maximum performance.
Your Office Anywhere are one of the country’s longest established cloud hosting companies and we have been providing Access hosting for over 8 years. While it is equally possible to run the Access application on a local server there are many benefits to both the developer and the customer of running an Access online database on a hosted server with Your Office Anywhere:
- Prices start at just £19.90 per user per month for an Access application using Microsoft Access Runtime licence.
- Developers reselling the platform will also earn a 15% rebate/discount on the monthly rental
- The application can be run from anywhere and on any device.
- There is no capital outlay for a local server, licences, or installation services.
- There are no upgrade or replacement costs as operating systems or hardware become obsolete.
- No long term contracts, complete flexibility to increase and decrease user numbers as needed.
- The terminal server is supported by Your Office Anywhere, including Anti-virus, Windows Updates and server backups
- Data and databases are backed up daily (or more often if required) to a second data centre for resilience, and kept for 20 days.
- 99.5% uptime SLA.
- 24/7 UK support for critical issues.
- Both Your Office Anywhere and our data centres are certified to ISO 27001 Information Security Management System.
- Running Microsoft Access online instead of on a local helps reduce carbon emissions.
For more information on Microsoft Access database hosting, or any other aspects of cloud computing call Your Office Anywhere on 01282 500318 or email: [email protected]
According to the Redmond Magazine Microsoft are ending Access Services for SharePoint Online starting in June this year.
Access Services allows you to use Microsoft Access to develop applications connecting to SharePoint and present these to users using a web browser as “web apps”.
The replacement as far as Microsoft are concerned is a couple of new services called PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, these are available as either subscription products or as part of Office 365 or Microsoft Dynamics.
The concept behind Access Services was noble, i.e. the ability for businesses to create applications and access them over the web. PowerApps will likely be similar. What disappointed many developers about Access Services or specifically Access WebApps were the functional limitations compared with the proper desktop version of Access. There is also the inevitable performance limitations with any application where the client is separated from the database by the Internet.
Alternative to Access Services
For a long time one of the best solutions for dealing with database applications where users need to be in different locations is the use of Terminal Services. Now called Remote Desktop Services, this technology allows businesses to run the full Microsoft Access application over the Internet in exactly the same way that it runs on a desktop. No changes to the code are required and no loss of features or functionality. Access runs on the Remote Desktop Server like it would on a PC and the user interacts in exactly the same way.
Access Access Anywhere
Remote Desktop Services is available as a hosted service, an Infrastructure as a Service offering if you like. This is often called Hosted Desktop or Hosted Applications and offloads the responsibility of managing, supporting and maintaining IT backend systems to a professional hosting provider.
Besides the obvious advantage of being able to run Access from anywhere over the Internet the availability of free Microsoft Remote Desktop Clients means that it is also simple to run it on other devices such as Macs, iPads and Android tablets. This is a simple way of sharing an Access database application without the need for any onsite server infrastructure.
Using Remote Desktop Services also means that other applications can be run alongside Access in exactly the same way as they would on a PC. Whether this is integration with other Microsoft Office applications or other 3rd party or bespoke applications. Many businesses use this as an opportunity to move their whole business into the cloud.
Find out more about hosting Access applications
Your Office Anywhere have been hosting Access and similar applications for the past 10 years and are experienced with getting the optimum performance from Access on a remote desktop platform. Speak to a technical sales consultant who can explain more or perhaps take advantage of a free trial or test server to try your application out on the platform. Go to www.yourofficeanywhere.co.uk for more details.
What has the lowest cost of ownership, Hosted Desktops or on-premise servers?
This is a question every one considering cloud hosted desktops will ask and the answer may be different for every business and will depend on many factors. What is critical though is to really take into account some of the hidden costs and hidden benefits and try and put a price on them.
In this article I will start with a simple financial comparison before including things that are less easy to put a number against, such as how much is it worth to your business to not have any downtime.
To keep things simple I’m taking a common scenario, a small business that needs to share a database application between 10 employees. An example might be Sage 50 Accounts.
Calculating the hosting cost using Your Office Anywhere's pricing is easy. This scenario is a straight £19.90 per user per month.
£19.90 * 10 (users) *12 (months) = £2,388 per year
This includes the hosting fee as well as Microsoft Licences for Windows and Remote Desktop Services.
Calculating an equivalent price for an on premise solution gets a bit tricky because it depends on where you’re starting from, what internal skills you have, how often you expect to replace the system, what your appetite for risk is and so on. To try and make a comparison I’m going to base it on a typical scenario from our experience of businesses of this size.
The on premise solution includes buying an entry level server with 5 years next business day support and includes Windows Server Essentials and Client Access Licences for 10 people; a simple cloud backup solution; plus setup and installation costs which assumes the server is also being used as a domain controller and includes migrating users to the new domain. When working out total cost of ownership of an on premise server it is also important to include things like power and anti-virus solutions. The other really “wooly” thing with an on premise solution is support, it’s impossible to predict what issues you will hit in the future, so I’ve based this comparison on a simple support contract with an IT provider at £100 per month for 1 server support.
As this is an entry level system there are a few things I haven’t included which I would normally highly recommend such as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), dual hot-plug power supplies and RAID1+5 disk array (I’ve just priced for RAID1). So really this is a bit on the low side but I wanted to be as impartial as possible.
So, which is cheaper Hosted Desktops or On Premise? Well, if you are just looking at 1 year then clearly Hosted Desktops. If you look over say 5 years then it starts to equal out, except that in 5 years you are probably looking to replace your server, upgrade your domain and buy latest versions of the operating systems and CALs. Effectively a very similar outlay to what you just spent.
The diagram below compares Hosted Desktops with On Premise for the scenario above and assumes you replace your servers and operating system licences every 5 years (the peaks in the light blue line). The comparison is over 12 years and shows the annual cost plus an accumulative cost over that time. For simplification this doesn’t take into account inflation, which will affect both options fairly equally.
It’s important to state that as the user numbers increase the numbers get closer together till you reach critical points, for example at 26 users you need a different edition of Windows Server. As numbers rise you may also want additional memory, or go for the more fault tolerant options mentioned earlier. Maybe a second server and so on.
The next thing to compare are the intangibles, things that it’s hard to put a price on because you can’t predict the future.
Flexibility and Scalability
I mentioned earlier that there are certain tipping points where you may want different Windows Server editions or higher server specification. If you had enough information about your business growth to predict this at the beginning then you may have paid a slightly higher upfront cost, paying for more hardware than you need at the outset, but just paying for additional CALs as numbers increase. The onsite server gives you flexibility to increase user numbers to a certain extent with only minimal increases to operating costs. If however, this is unexpected growth then you may need to effectively throw away the licences or hardware you paid for and replace it with the next model up.
Also consider the implications of growth being slower than predicted, maybe the high spec hardware you bought becomes old and obsolete by the time you get to fully utilise it.
Conversely if you’ve bought this extra hardware and extra CALs and then your business hits a bad patch and you have to reduce numbers you are stuck with this extra resource; you can’t go back to Microsoft for a refund and you certainly won’t save money by selling your server on eBay and getting a cheaper model.
This is where the beauty of pay-as-you-go cloud computing comes in. With a Hosted Desktop service you only pay for the number of users you need in any one month. Flexing up and down with the needs of your business. You don’t need to predict the future you can add on dozens of users almost instantly, and remove them a few months later with no wasted investment.
CAPEX vs OPEX
From an accounting point of view many companies will prefer the benefits of low monthly hosting payments from an operating budget over an upfront capital investment, depreciated over time that sits on the balance sheet.
We mentioned earlier that the specification for the entry level server in the comparison fell short of what would be considered a fault tolerant system. Higher priced systems will include battery UPS to avoid permanently damaging the server in a power cut, and redundant power supplies for the same reason. Hot plug disks would also be recommended so that faulty ones can be replaced without downtime and with no loss of data.
When you use a Hosted Desktop solution then the “High Availability” and “Disaster Recovery” options are at another level entirely. Yes the servers still have redundant power supplies, but so does the whole data centre. There are still battery UPS but these are also backed up by diesel generators keeping the data centre powered up indefinitely in the event of a local power cut.
The servers are virtualised and on a hardware cluster meaning if the underlying physical server suffered from any hardware failure the guest servers instantly move to another host, with no disruption.
Offsite data backups are taken several times a day. Servers are protected by central Anti-virus management and the same applies to Windows updates.
Multiple internet connections with different providers are in place to again reduce the risk of service interruption in the event of a failure with one provider.
Does this enterprise level infrastructure come at a price? Well because this infrastructure is shared by everyone the economies of scale mean that individually the costs are negligible.
In my comparison I estimated a figure for an IT support contract of about £100 per server for an on premise server. With a Hosted Desktop the server support is included in the price.
Peace of mind
Back to the question at the start of the article, what is the cost to your business of downtime? No matter how good your local IT support or the hardware support contract you have with your hardware vendor, if something breaks you will have downtime. With a Hosted Desktop solution a lot of things have to break before things stop working, you would expect to have a Service Level Agreement guaranteeing 99.5% uptime.
It is important to mention that every situation is different, for some businesses a few days downtime may not cause a problem, for others a few minutes will cause major disruption. At Your Office Anywhere our technical sales consultants are experienced in implementing on premise solutions as well as Hosted Desktop so can help you make the right decision for your business.
IT Toolkit for Remote Workers
Your remote workers are some of the most important people in your business, very often they are the public face of your brand, engaging with customers and driving business growth. So it is vital that these guys have all the tools to do the job.
This is what our simple 1, 2, 3 wish list for any remote worker would look like:
1 – Access to Enterprise Class email and calendars on mobile phone, laptop and webmail so the remote worker is never out of touch – A Hosted Exchange service runs on the latest Microsoft Exchange platform in UK data centres certified for ISO 27001 Information Security Management System.
2 – Fixed line style DDI Phone Numbers that can follow the user wherever they are. Hosted Telephony gives your remote workers their own extension with a business class desk phone just as if they were sat in the office, they just plug this into their broadband. For field workers our Intelligent Number enables users to logon to their extension on any phone, fixed or mobile, so calls to their “desk phone” DDI number will be automatically routed to the phone of their choosing. Also available is call recording, either on-demand or record all ideal for ensuring financial services companies meet compliance obligations. Find out more about Hosted Telephony here.
3 – Access to Line of Business Software Applications. Move your business applications, databases and documents out of the main office and onto cloud hosted servers that are accessible over the internet by any member of the team regardless of where they are based or what device they use.
The remote worker or branch office can use the systems in exactly the same way as their head office based colleagues enabling them to place orders, check stock, monitor progress or run reports. A hosted remote desktop system like this costs from less than £20 a month per user. The platform is supported and maintained including full backups, anti-virus and Windows updates.
Not only does the hosted desktop platform give all your team the right tools for the job it also removes the need for on-site IT systems and associated maintenance, licencing, support and eventual replacement costs. See more information about Hosted Desktops here.
Your Office Anywhere are one of the country's longest established Hosted Desktop providers.Contact us today to discuss your business objectives and see how cloud hosted services from Your Office Anywhere could revolutionise the IT experience for remote working.Shalz likes this.
Working from home is increasingly popular, whether it is a one off while the kids are off, or a more permanent arrangement. Over the years home workers have not necessarily had the tools to be as effective as their office bound colleagues. However, this need no longer be the case as technology has improved to the point where home workers, remote workers, field workers and office workers can all share identical systems and technology.
One of these new technologies is Hosted Desktops. Replacing the traditional office server a Hosted Desktop gives you all your business applications, whatever they are, hosted in “The Cloud” for you to run anywhere and on any device. Your data and databases are all stored alongside your cloud desktop for maximum security, performance, and accessibility.
Here are my top 10 IT issues for home workers that are solved by a Hosted Desktop solution:
No. 1 - Broadband speed and reliability issues - SOLVED
OK, you do need broadband for a hosted desktop to work, but it doesn’t need to be super-fast fibre or anything like that. The broadband speed requirement for hosted desktops is tiny, as very little data goes up and down the Internet, just mouse clicks, keyboard taps, and screen refreshes. If you do lose your internet connection, don’t worry, whatever you were working on will still be there just as you left it when you reconnect.
No. 2 – Technical support issues - SOLVED
Supporting home workers with PC issues can be challenging, but as all the business applications are running on a secure, managed and locked down hosted desktop it significantly reduces the things that can go wrong.
No. 3 – Virus and Malware - SOLVED
I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure home workers as well as office workers are protected by anti-virus software, but it is much harder for systems administrators to keep tabs on this. While a hosted desktop doesn’t prevent users from getting virus on their PC at least you know that the hosted desktop server has managed anti-virus protection. Additionally users don’t have the necessary permissions to install applications on their hosted desktop so it is much harder for malware to take hold.
No. 4 – Installing and Updating Software - SOLVED
Whatever IT project I’ve been involved in, if it requires installation of software on a PC then it is always significantly more work if the users are remote, use laptops or work from home. With a hosted desktop solution there is usually just one computer, the Remote Desktop Server, to update software on, just install once and everyone gets the new version as they all connect to the same server.
No. 5 – Shared use of PCs - SOLVED
If your home workers use their home PC for work – or worse, use their work PC for home – there is always the risk that it gets used by family members and the security and integrity of company data is at risk. These risks are mitigated by using a hosted desktop solution as there is no data or applications on the user’s PC. Even if the PC gets trashed and has to be replaced, reconnecting to the hosted desktop can be done in seconds. If you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy then hosted desktops are an ideal way of supporting the policy in a secure way.
No. 6 – Home Network/Wi-Fi security - SOLVED
Most home workers will have limited knowledge of home network security and while modern Internet routers have secure Wi-Fi capability and firewalls built in to protect the home network from the Internet there’s no protection from other devices on the network such as tablets belonging to the user’s children’s school friends. Thankfully all communication to and from a hosted desktop is encrypted so even if the Wi-Fi network is insecure no data can be intercepted.
No. 7 – Data backups - SOLVED
Backing up data is integral to our hosted desktop platform, it can be ticked off your list of things you don’t need to worry about anymore. Home workers with data saved on their laptops or USB sticks used to be a nightmare for businesses to keep secure and backups probably never happen. Now it is a thing of the past, as all the data is kept on the hosted desktop platform there should be no risk of data loss or theft.
No. 8 – Recovering or reclaiming data following long term illness or termination – SOLVED
Situations where someone has been suspended, dismissed or where they are incapacitated due to illness can be difficult, and retrieving data from home workers computers in these circumstances may not be straightforward. Workers using a hosted desktop solution don’t need to store data on their local computers, everything is saved on the remote server so access is easy, and removing a user’s access can be done almost instantly.
No. 9 – PC Encryption - SOLVED
If someone steals a laptop without hard drive encryption they can very easily access and data on the laptops drive just by plugging it in to another PC. However, if that drive is encrypted then they cannot read the data. If you have home or remote workers it is very difficult to guarantee they have encrypted drives, especially if they use their own equipment. If they use a hosted desktop however, then no data is held on the drive, so nothing is lost or compromised.
No. 10 – Regulatory Compliance - SOLVED
If you are in one of the many industries that have to comply with regulations, such as financial, healthcare or legal, then you have to prove that you are taking appropriate measures to ensure the security and integrity of data. As a hosted desktop provider we are certified to ISO 27001 Information Security Management system, so we can give you all the assurance you need to meet your regulatory compliance.
No. 11 – Telephony - SOLVED
OK, this was supposed to be a top 10 list. However, telephony isn’t something we going to solve with a Hosted Desktop. However, we can solve it with Hosted Telephony. This is a VoIP system that enables your home workers to use the same desk phone handsets as your office workers. They are on an extension in exactly the same way and can have a local DDI number even if they live in another country. This includes being part of ring groups with colleagues in the office.
Every business is different and runs different applications, so if you need to provide tools for your home workers, or you are working from home yourself please get in touch and discuss your plans with one of our technical sales consultants. Just call 01282 500318 or fill in our contact form.
1 – Work from Anywhere
Probably the biggest reason anyone wants a cloud computing service, the ability to use your line of business applications wherever you want. We’re not just talking about Office, but any Windows based business application, bespoke or off the shelf. As long as you have an Internet connection you can work on your applications and access your data and files. This could be from different branches of your business, from home, from hotels, airports or your customer’s site. If you have a 3G or 4G signal you can even tether your laptop to your mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and use a hosted desktop just as easily as in your office.
2 – Work on any device
Hosted desktops will run on any device from Windows PCs and Laptops to Macs, iPads and Android tablets. If you have a business application that only runs on Windows but you prefer to use Macs then a hosted desktop solves that problem. Just download the free Remote Desktop Client for Mac from the app store and you’re ready to work.
3 – Upgrades are easy
We call this the forgotten benefit of hosted desktops. If you need to upgrade or patch your applications you don’t need to visit every user, just do it once on your dedicated hosted desktop server and everyone gets the new version.
4 – Lower TCO
Running your own server infrastructure isn’t cheap. When you add up the cost of a server, backups, UPS, Microsoft licences, power, cooling, specialists to set it all up, support when it goes wrong; and then do it all again after about 5 years, it is a lot of money. For most small businesses a hosted desktop service will work out cheaper over the short and long term.
If you then take into account the hidden costs of the risk of downtime to your business and its reputation then having a hosted desktop provider with a service level agreement of 99.5% uptime will take a load off your mind.
5 – Ditch your on-site IT
Quite simply get rid of the headaches, worry and hassle of managing and supporting your own IT systems and let someone else do it. Never again have to budget for the unexpected. Enjoy a consistent service with pay-as-you-go pricing; the flexibility to increase or decrease users and no long contract to tie you in.
6 – Resilience, Reliability and Security
Your hosted desktops sit on cutting edge, enterprise level infrastructure in state of the art data centres. Hardware which costs millions is available to businesses of every size from one man bands upwards. The economies of scale mean that every customer benefits from a host of fault tolerant and resilience solutions. Check out this article about all the reliability and security measures we have in place.
7 – Bespoke Service
Every business is different, every customer unique so while an off the shelf, point and click, solution may suit some businesses, many would prefer to know that they can discuss their individual requirements with an experienced IT professional to make sure their hosted desktop solution is tailored to their exact needs.
Want to know more about hosted desktops and how they can work for your business? Get in touch today for a no obligation chat about your potential requirements at our contact page: http://www.yourofficeanywhere.co.uk...UKBF_7_Reasons_Hosted_Desktop&utm_medium=news
If you are looking for a good alternative to Sage you’ve come to the wrong place. Sorry, this is a bit misleading. If you are looking for an alternative to Sage because of infrastructure reasons then you’re definitely in the right place. By infrastructure I mean the computers and networks used to access and share Sage and its data.
Sage has been around a long time and has hundreds of thousands of users, and like any large software company it will have its detractors, just like Microsoft or Google. So I often see posts from people looking for alternatives to Sage, and the reasons vary: For some it is costs, others it will be the complexity, or user experience, for some it is the hassles of upgrading.
One common reason people look for an alternative to Sage is the infrastructure. Where it runs, how it is shared, and more recently how it compares with other “Cloud” based accounting packages. This is where we have an interest; so let’s explore what people want from their Sage infrastructure. In no particular order I believe the things people need from the IT infrastructure supporting Sage are:
- Ability for multiple users to share and work on the same Sage databases.
- Security of the databases against loss or corruption, i.e. backups and stability.
- Ability to access Sage from multiple branches or sites.
- Ability to share Sage with accountants or bookkeepers.
- Performance and reliability – improving/maintaining productivity.
- Ease of upgrading.
Increasingly people are also looking for:
- Access to Sage when working from home, from another site or hotel.
- Access to Sage from Macs or other devices.
At the end of the day Sage is a good product, it wouldn’t be in the position it is today if it wasn’t. So if it is infrastructure requirements or problems that are tempting you to throw the baby out with the bathwater and consider alternatives to Sage then perhaps we should look at alternatives to the infrastructure.
Cloud has become the new buzz word for software applications, many of the alternatives snapping at Sage’s heels are solely cloud based. Sage is also utilising the cloud with the introduction of Sage Drive but the feedback we have had about Sage Drive has been mixed. The alternative I want to discuss is also cloud based but instead of being a web based application or a synchronisation tool it is the full Sage application (any version) running completely in the Cloud with nothing of Sage running on the PCs (or Macs).
The solution is known as Hosted Remote Desktops or simply Hosted Desktops or Hosted Applications. The Sage desktop application and the database all run on hosted servers and the users connect to it over the Internet using a simple remote desktop client application available for any device. Multiple users can all logon at once, as many as your Sage licence permits. The data will be backed up and there will usually be multiple levels of redundancy so you can expect a guaranteed up-time of over 99% from the provider.
As people access the Sage application over the internet they can run it from anywhere, and as everything is running on the server if the Internet connection is a bit dodgy there’s no risk of the database being corrupted if it cuts out - something that is a risk with Sage Drive – so you can use it on the train without worry.
There is only one copy of Sage installed on the remote desktop server so upgrading is really easy, you just do it once. The hosted desktop sol ution will work for any version/edition of Sage and any number of users. It can easily scale for more advanced versions such as Sage 200 that require SQL databases. You can install other applications alongside Sage such as Microsoft Office or any Sage plug-ins/add-ons, or connect to partners using EDI systems. You can easily print or email from the server as well as copying data such as Sage backups to your PC if needed.
So if you like Sage and the only reason you’re looking for an alternative to Sage is the computer hardware needed to run it how you want to run it then this may be the ideal solution.
However, if you do genuinely want an alternative to Sage we do work with other software vendors who supply advanced accounting software, just let us know and we’ll put you in touch.
Your Office Anywhere have been hosting Sage for their customers for at least 8 years so if you would like to find out a bit more about how this system works, what the costs are, or how secure it is get in touch via our website contact page
What’s the difference between Hosted Desktops and VDI and DaaS?
Choosing a cloud solution for your business that’s both flexible and cost effective.
There are a bewildering assortment of terms being bandied about in the Cloud computing world, particularly in reference to running your whole desktop in a hosted environment: Hosted Desktop, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Hosted Applications, Desktop as a Services (DaaS), but if you’re in the process of considering what it the best cloud solution for your business you need to know that these technologies are not necessarily the same.
Virtual computing is inherent in all the technologies we are discussing, the ability to run multiple “Guest” operating systems on one physical “Host” computer. Virtual Desktops are individual guest operating systems running on a 1 to 1 (user to operating system) basis from a central server or server farm. The desktops behave like any desktop running on a physical PC, and will typically run a desktop operating system such as Windows 7, 8 or 10. Profiles and data are usually stored centrally. Virtual Desktops enable the users to logon on to any computer and connect to their unique desktop. Deployment of new desktops is therefore usually very quick and local hardware can be very basic, often just thin client terminals. While there are many cloud providers who supply cloud hosted versions of VDI they are more common in large corporations managing their own IT infrastructure on site.
Hosted desktops are very different. Instead of one virtual desktop operating system per user Hosted Desktops will typically use Windows Server operating systems and may have several dozen users on one powerful server. These desktops generally use Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (previous known as Terminal Services) to present a Windows desktop to the user and will look and feel very similar to a real or a VDI desktop. The only difference to the user is that they are on Windows Server instead of on say Windows 10. The user is seldom aware they are running on a different operating system and the applications the users run work exactly the same.
Being “Hosted” they are managed by a cloud provider, often connecting to applications and databases hosted in the providers data centre, potentially removing the need for any local back end infrastructure for the business, dramatically reducing the upfront costs of providing the infrastructure to share applications and data.
Hosted Desktops are usually provided on a monthly subscription basis allowing user numbers to change from month to month as required by the business.
Hosted Applications and Hosted Desktops are two sides to the same coin. At the backend everything is the same, the only difference is how the user connects. A Hosted Application removes the “desktop” wrapper of a hosted desktop, all the user sees are icons for the applications they want to run. When the application starts it feels no different than if it was running locally on the PC. The applications can also be launched from a web portal, especially handy if you are on a strange computer such as in a hotel.
Hosted applications are often used by software vendors as a way of supporting the sale of their software by removing the need for their customers to buy local servers. Hosted Applications can also be supported by additional hosted infrastructure such as Hosted SQL Servers, Web servers, or fast network storage, all from the same data centre network guaranteeing performance.
Desktops as a Service
DaaS is again one of those terms that is used for different technologies. It can be used to represent a VDI solution if cloud hosted, but is more typically associated with Hosted Desktops.
Which is the best solution?
Of course the answer depends on the individual business, but Hosted Desktops have some very significant advantages in the following areas:
- A good chunk of the memory and CPU on a computer is taken up by the operating system. On a Hosted Desktop/Hosted Application environment there is only one operating system for dozens of users. Whereas on a VDI solution each user has their own OS so the underlying physical hardware cannot support as many users, so making the solution more expensive, plus a higher carbon footprint.
- A computer’s operating system will require about 40 – 50 GB of storage plus plenty of headroom for updates. The installed applications also need their own disk space, Office 2016 for example will need at least 3GB. Multiply this by the number of virtual desktops in a VDI solution and it adds up to a significant amount, therefore more added cost.
- I’ve already mentioned that a VDI solution will require more overall resources than a Hosted Desktop. Another consideration, especially for small and medium scale implementations, is that the applications and databases are usually on the same server as the client application meaning application performance is at its optimum. Where databases are on a separate SQL server this will likely be on the same network and fibre connected to the application server.
- When installing applications to multiple virtual desktops you have to deploy it to each one as if they were physical machines. This either requires a lot of time from your IT support, or investment in application deployment technologies such as Microsoft System Centre, and skills to package the application for deployment. On a Hosted Desktop you just have to install the application once.
- The same applies when it comes to upgrading your operating systems, with Hosted Desktops you just have one server to upgrade/replace, with VDI you’re looking at a major project.
- A virtual desktop can potentially suffer from as many issues as a physical PC. The advantage of VDI is that if it does have an issue it is usually isolated to that desktop. An issue on a Hosted Desktop is potentially affecting the whole server. In reality though server issues causing disruption or downtime are exceedingly rare.
- Microsoft Windows Client Access Licences (CALs) and Remote Desktop Services CALs can be provided under the Service Providers Licence Agreement (SPLA) meaning your cloud hosting provider can rent you the licences on a month by month, user by user basis. The Windows Server licence will usually be covered by the hosting provider using a data centre licence. Desktop operating systems such as Windows 10 are not legally available under SPLA so customers would need to purchase full Windows desktop licences for each user.
Whilst the above benefits provide a strong case for Hosted Desktops over VDI, especially local VDI it is important to consider the following factors when choosing a hosted desktop provider:
- If you are handing over your data and IT operations to a third party you need to make sure they are competent. Check how long they have been trading, what their credit rating is. Are they ISO 27001 certified? Do they own their own equipment? What Tier is the data centre? What high availability and disaster recovery systems do they have in place?
- While Internet outages may not be the responsibility of the provider, unless their equipment is at fault, any outages will impact your business. Make sure the provider offers a Service Level Agreement and will compensate for outages caused by their infrastructure.
- With all hosted solutions whether VDI or Hosted Desktops/Applications you should expect that the computers are supported and maintained by the hosting provider, this should include Anti-Virus and Windows Update management but also backups of the operating systems, databases and documents.