What is a Virtual Desktop?

For many companies navigating remote work at scale for the first time, relying on cloud providers to deal with infrastructure is easier than keeping administrators on site within the IT department to manage servers.

Amazon and Microsoft both have virtual desktop services.    These cloud-based offers have seen an uptick since the start of the global pandemic.   These are applications that are helpful for companies that want to keep their employees productive as they work from home or in our worlds new hybrid working environment where we will work some days from home and other days in the office.

Google has a similar product called “Cloudtop” that employees use to access internal programs.   However, Google’s cloud customers do not have access to Cloudtop.    Google customers wanting a virtual desktop solution will need to go to a third-party solutions instead.

An example of this is when Zoom saw a surge in new customers during the pandemic, the video-calling software company signed up for additional Amazon WorkSpace virtual desktop licenses for its help desk employees, Amazon said in November.

For Microsoft, they made a noted on its recent earnings call that usage of Windows Virtual Desktop tripled during the quarter, as organizations deployed virtual desktops and apps on Azure to enable secure remote work.

Google first made its Cloudtop service available to employees in 2017. It is meant to help them build software, interact with internal systems, and communicate through internet chat functionality. The service offers support for desktops running the Linux and Windows operating systems.

In a Google published a paper on its virtual desktop software it was stated that over 25% of Google employees use virtual desktops, and Google migrated the software to its public cloud from its corporate infrastructure to improve the user/employee experience and decrease the total cost of ownership.

Examples of companies using virtual desktops are Telus, who uses a product from privately held Itopia on Google’s cloud, while Equifax relies on Citrix software on the Google cloud. Other customers use a product from privately held Workspot.

These products have gained momentum since the COVID-19 appeared. In 2020 revenue growth from Citrix’s Workspace segment, which includes its virtual desktop software, grew over 10% year over year, compared with 5% in the prior year.   It’s profitable revenue, too: Citrix reported a gross margin in excess of 80%.

Cloud Desktop Applications:

  • Citrix – A software company that provides server, application and desktop virtualization, networking, software as a service, and cloud computing technologies. 
  • Workspot- A provider of enterprise software to help IT departments deliver apps and data to mobile devices. 
  • Itopia – Cloud Automation stack to make it easy to rapidly deploy thousands of Windows 10, RDS, or Linux virtual desktops & apps to most any device.  Leverages the power of Google Cloud’s IaaS and PaaS products.  Pairs automation with Google Cloud’s high-speed network, so enterprises can manage productivity workloads at global scale.
  • Amazon Workspace – a cloud desktop that can be used for day-to-day business tasks such as editing documents, accessing web applications, and sending/receiving company email. 
  • Microsoft Virtual Desktop – comprises the Windows desktops and apps delivered to users which is hosted as a service on Azure by Microsoft. Desktops and apps can be deployed on virtual machines (VMs) in Azure regions.