According to a recent IDC InfoBrief, small businesses using cloud computing are 1.7 times likelier to experience at least 10 percent revenue growth compared to similar-sized companies in general. One of the ways that small businesses are reaching that revenue and productivity leap is via the cloud desktop.
As more small businesses explore the possibility of cloud desktops, they inevitably have questions about the deployment process and how it will affect productivity. Here are the five broad steps for deploying cloud desktops for small business:
#1: Set Cloud Desktop Goals and Requirements
For a cloud desktop implementation to be successful, it must meet the needs and goals of the business. Of equal importance is the need for the solution to make financial sense. That can only happen when the business has a defined list of goals and requirements that will inform the creation of a cloud desktop strategy plan.
This plan will help ensure that you not only choose the right solution but also implement it effectively. That requires the business to fully understand each user’s experience, the business’s current IT infrastructure complexity, and total cost per desktop as part of the deployment and implementation strategy.
#2: Pre-Implementation Planning
Before any users are created, but after you have made the final decision to go with cloud desktops, you will need to assess your current environment, what you like about it, and what you want to be different. This will guide the implementation plan so that features and functionality meet predetermined expectations.
This means a detailed assessment of all applications and database resources with thorough application dependency mapping. This will include user profiles that are either created or that are exported from an Active Directory.
#3: Cloud Desktop Architecture Decisions
Decisions must be made around the cloud desktop architecture in terms of the solution provider and, more specifically, the choice of a connection broker. This is the software provided by a desktop-as-a-service provider that enables the business to access various types of server-hosted desktops and applications.
In a cloud desktop environment, this software connects the data center virtual machine instances to the businesses’ onsite thin client desktops as well as to the mobile devices such as laptops and tablets for working remotely. It is this “middleware software that provides the UX interface to the desktop OS and application UX. SMBs should work with an experienced cloud services provider to help make and execute these decisions regarding cloud desktop deployment.
There are several other decisions that will be made at this stage to ensure the right architecture decisions, including:
- Inventory existing devices such as printers that will need to be redirected in a cloud environment.
- Map location, permissions, and access methods for all printers and maintain a record of these devices prior to cloud desktop design implementation.
- Determine on-site networking requirements and any remote network requirements and connectivity between locations.
- Define connectivity in terms of bandwidth and latency needs.
- Decide what is expected in terms of performance, availability, and space.
- Ensure that the virtual machines follow best practices for creation and that they have enough CPU, memory, and disk resources dedicated to them.
- Determine any other requirements for local device support.
#4: Establish and Plan the Data Migration Process
The data migration process can be straightforward but also detailed, depending on the size of the small business and how it uses and stores data currently. It also depends on the available bandwidth, which goes to the ability to transfer the data and applications quickly.
Not all applications are good candidates for cloud desktop migration, so small businesses must have a detailed understanding of that criterion. This can be determined with the help of a cloud services provider and the cloud desktop vendor.
#5: System Testing
Depending on the number of cloud desktops that will be provisioned for a small business and their collective, as well as individual needs, implementation will most likely be done in phases (over the course of days or even weeks) rather than all at once. This ensures minimal, if any, productivity reductions while also accommodating the minimal training needs, if any are necessary.
Once the cloud desktop system is in place, the cloud services provider can then help the business test local device redirection, end-user acceptance, system performance and sizing, printing, and overall usability. Like all phases of the process, this one can be fairly quick, simple, and non-disruptive based on the level of planning and forethought that have gone into the cloud desktop strategy planning.
Traditional desktops represent a major ongoing Capex and Opex cost investment for small businesses and limits their ability to enable a mobile and more productive workforce. The cloud desktop provides a cost-effective solution for these businesses by eliminating the major hardware and software investments, maintenance as well as update costs and time commitment for a monthly set fee cost per user with automatic updates and maintenance.
Cloud desktops not only provide the same and often better user experience, but they enable mobile workstations, where workers can efficaciously collaborate and remotely handle tasks. They enable small businesses to concentrate on productivity rather than worrying about downtime, updates, and data security. For owners, the cost savings of an annual fee per user that can be quickly scaled up or down versus the major capital expenditure of on-site servers and desktop infrastructure is a major incentive.