A Cloud PC is a new kind of computer that is growing in popularity amongst businesses and consumers. But before we dive into what a Cloud PC actually is, let's make sure we are on the same page on what The Cloud is.
First off, what is the cloud?
According to Webster, the cloud, or rather Cloud Computing is "the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the internet".
This means that pretty much anything you access via the internet is in The Cloud. You can host your own Cloud or use a Cloud Service from a service provider. In a business, you might have a mixture of cloud services that make up your general IT infrastructure.
If your application or service relies on the internet you are using The Cloud
A great and common example is with music. In the past, you would purchase an album and play that album via a local device using physical media in front of you. More commonly today, you will use software to access music stored in a server outside of your home that you access via the internet. You likely pay a provider like Spotify, Google, Apple, or Amazon to facilitate this service and access the music files stored on their cloud.
The same logic applies to how we stream videos, access email, and most modern cloud centered business solutions.
Which brings us to Cloud PCs
A Cloud PC is literally a full computer that can be securely accessed via the internet from a supported device. This could be a computer that is running an assortment of Operating Systems and can be hosted in your own private cloud or with a service Provider such as the Amazon Cloud or Microsoft Azure. In the Microsoft universe, it is called Windows 365.
Just like any cloud service, a Cloud PC lives inside The Cloud. While it is possible this type of computer can be hosted inside of your server/datacenter, the more modern solutions utilize cloud infrastructure.
Pricing will vary greatly depending on your use case. If you are familiar with hosting servers in the cloud, you can expect similar pricing models:
Billed pennies to dollars an hour based on the performance of your machine. Powering off your machine when not using it can reduce costs
Pricing can range from dozens to thousands of dollars a month, just depends on how much power you want in your computer.
There are new options that exist where you can prepay for months/years at a time to drastically reduce costs
A user of a Cloud PC is provided a quick and secure method to remotely access their Cloud PC and access all resources as if it was a local computer. With more modern solutions, this includes compatibility with video conferencing, streaming, and 3D development.
On the consumer side, it is possible for someone to subscribe to a Cloud PC service to gain access to additional performance for gaming or development.
On the business side, the same performance benefits exist while also creating new and more flexible ways to provide scalable and secure computer environments for employees and contractors to utilize.
Great, so should we be using Cloud PCs?
The quick answer is... maybe, but probably not today.
There are a lot of organizations today using a form of Cloud PCs via Remote Desktop (RDS) and Citrix. In the past, this type of solution would provide cost saving and security advantages that a local configuration couldn't match. However, a typical RDS deployment now faces challenges that could be solved with a Cloud PC but also could also be solved with modern software solutions.
Ultimately, it really depends on the needs of your business and the direction your technology designs are headed.
The best recommendation we have is to make sure the technology vision for your organization is aligned with your business plans and strategies. That generally will mean ensuring the core software solutions utilized in your business are following modern design practices that incorporate cloud computing into your day-to-day workflows.
Cloud PCs will one day become a common piece of a typical IT solution, especially as the technology evolves over the next few years. For now, it's important to know what a Cloud PC is and that could be a good option in the right situation for your business.
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