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Cloud desktops are an approach to end-user computing where virtual desktops and applications are hosted on cloud-based resources rather than resources in an on-premises corporate data center. 

Also known as cloud virtual desktops, cloud hosted desktops, or Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), cloud desktops can be accessed from anywhere, using any device, as long as they are connected to the internet. VMware Horizon Cloud is an example of a cloud hosted desktop provider. 

Near-ubiquitous adoption of cloud-based services like Office 365, coupled the global increase in remote work driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing adoption of digital transformation is providing fuel to the growth of this market. According to Verified Market Research, the market for cloud desktops is projected to reach over USD 11 Billion by 2026. 

How do Cloud desktops work?

Typically, desktop virtualization platforms allow users to access Windows desktops or applications that are running in a different physical location. This is accomplished with a platform that consists of, at a high level: 

  • A server running in a datacenter that has one or more instances of Windows running on it

  •  Desktop virtualization infrastructure manages the configuration of those instances of Windows and assigns users to them. 

  • A gateway to secure access from outside the datacenter. 

  • And endpoint device from which a user can access their virtual desktop or application. This can be a laptop, desktop, or mobile device. It can also be a “thin client” – a device dedicated to accessing virtual desktops and applications, or a simple web browser. 

  • A remote protocol through which video, audio, keyboard, and mouse data is shared between the user’s endpoint and the desktop. 

  • What are the benefits of Cloud desktops?

  • Cloud desktops offer a variety of benefits to both businesses and end users. Since cloud desktops are virtual, many users can be supported on a single virtual machine (VM), offering economies of scale. Organizations can spin up new ‘desktops’ for employees rapidly, without the need to procure physical computers for the employee’s use.  

  • Because many users can share a single instance of Windows, organizations can realize greater economies of scale, spreading the cost of an instance across multiple users. This is commonly called Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) or multi-session. Should a use case demand a one user to one instance approach, typically called Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI, this can also be accomplished. 

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