Just because virtualization is an incredibly advanced and complicated technology doesn’t mean small businesses can’t get in on the action. As experts debate the merits of virtual desktops versus containers, all SMBs need are an elementary understanding of how virtualization works and an IT provider. We can give you both!
What are virtual desktops?
Imagine all you have is a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Virtual desktop technology allows you to connect those devices to a server across either the internet or your office network. Once connected to the server, your monitor will display a fully functional operating system, and your keyboard and mouse will interact with that desktop with zero lag.
The server you connect to could host dozens of virtual desktops that other users access simultaneously, each with their own storage space, files, and applications.
This explanation is a bit of an oversimplification. You still need computer hardware (motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc.) to connect to a virtual desktop server, but the cheapest components available will do the trick. Everything you see on your monitor is really happening on the server, the computer at your desk is just an access point.
What are containers?
Let’s start with an example. Envision a business that provides video production services. All of its employees spend 20% of their time editing videos in one application. That application requires a lot of computing power, but this company can’t afford to buy everyone a high-end computer for a task they spend so little time on. Other production tasks are simple and don’t require expensive hardware, so virtual desktops aren’t necessary.
With containers, employees could connect to the server from their mid-range desktops and use its hardware to run the resource-hogging application. As long as your server is fast enough, employees can connect, run the application, and go back to other programs on their local computer.
Aside from using server resources more efficiently, containers are also exempt from operating system limitations. If a container is stored on a Windows-based server, there’s nothing stopping a Mac computer from working with the application stored inside the container.
Are virtual desktops or containers better for my business?
The biggest factor when choosing between these two technologies is the nature of your work. If employees are regularly switching between half a dozen applications, it’s probably smarter to go with virtual desktops since they are more flexible and open-ended. If most of your challenges are centered around one or two programs, containers are likely the smarter choice.
Every business is different, and we’ll be the first ones to admit there are cases when it makes more sense to invest in high-end employee desktops, or create a virtual desktop for that one obnoxious application. Whatever the right answer is for you, we promise to give it to you straight!
Give us a call today to hear our two cents on how you could be saving money with virtualization.