16/12/2010

By Bob Bennett.
Client Product Manager Dell

From the largest enterprise to the smallest one man operation, evolving working practices have radically departed from the traditional concept of “one man, one desk”. Businesses are trying to cut costs and drive productivity and efficiency at the same time. Furthermore, as more and more employees work part time, flexitime, from home or on the road, some companies have found that they must adjust, moving away from the traditional office structure and towards the more adaptable “hot- desk” environment. As these fundamental working practices evolve, so too does the technology that supports them. In this article, Bob Bennett, Client Product Manager, Dell, explains why hot-desking environments work for some businesses, and how it is possible to take advantage of the technological tools that set staff free from the confines of the static desk.

Small businesses with a significant share of remote workers have found that it may be more financially viable to have shared hot desks rather than a dedicated desktop per end user. This alleviates the cost involved with unused hardware and associated maintenance. Businesses opting to utilise hot-desking have increasingly found that systems in which desktop environments “follow” users, no matter where they are, whilst maintaining a high level of security and flexibility, are an efficient and cost effective alternative. In addition, the consumerisation of business IT has meant that nowadays many workers would not be satisfied with a generic, impersonal computer. The hot- desk environment enables this trend — and the key here is not to solely ensure that users have access to all of the networked data that they need, rather provide them with a personalised IT environment. This includes access to critical applications based on unique user profiles, shortcuts and bookmarks, and even individually selected pictures displayed on the desktop. This can all be achieved through Desktop Virtualization (VDI).

There are two key reasons why businesses turn to VDI to enable hot-desking — 1) to facilitate flexible working; and 2) to improve data security at the end point. It is essential to employ a VDI solution which supports the mobility requirements of each individual end user, allowing for secure and flexible access to corporate networks both inside the office when hot-desking, and remotely on-the-go. Protecting a company’s data is paramount, and for this reason, security is an essential consideration for any desktop interface. Features such as the ability to control who has access to what data and the capability to block its exportation are highly beneficial to organisations. Hot-desk environments which utilise VDI enable this by storing sensitive data back in the data centre rather than at the desktop level. Not only does this mean that user preferences are delivered to the desktop, but it also helps to protect businesses’ most valuable assets from internal and external threats, making data secure without the need to sacrifice the end user experience. Businesses should ideally choose a solutions provider which is able to deliver hardware that addresses unique user preferences, as well as a business’s infrastructural capabilities and virtualization platform of choice.

Virtualizing hot desks demonstrates clear benefits for the: 1) business — including enhanced worker productivity and reduced facilities costs; 2) IT department — including data security and simplified desktop management; and 3) end user — including flexibility and freedom of mobile working. For businesses looking to optimise end-user access both at the office and for remote working, hot desk environments enabled through VDI are a viable and effective way to improve working practices and support future business growth.