• Silvertel Hosting

Silvertel Hosted Desktop vs On-Premise

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

What is a Hosted Desktop?

In a hosted desktop solution, a server delivers a desktop environment including operating system and applications to each thin client on the desks of users. The software and processing all resides with the server and the thin clients simply provide the means to control the tasks and functions that are performed.

On Premise Hardware

The trend for PCs and conventional client-server computing grew out of the desire to allow maximum power and customisation for each desktop user. Today, this is fine for advanced ‘Power Users’ that perform graphics or other processor intensive tasks. Power Users need disk storage to install big applications, fast processors and large capacity RAM memory chips to enable quick, glitch free image manipulation or similar. However, from the perspective of hardware and for the vast majority of businesses, it makes no sense to equip every office worker with a PC, because disk storage, processors and RAM all have significant costs.

Thin clients are network devices that simply control and display hosted desktop computing operations. These processes are executed on a host, the server. The server could be located in a comms room in the same building, a remote data centre in the same city or country, or a data centre in another country on the other side of the world. Thin clients require no disk storage, processors and RAM, eliminating these costs.

Specifically for the needs of services sector businesses with users that need to run more powerful applications, an advanced form of hosted desktop is available to provide the higher level of performance required. One example of this is finance firms that use trading platforms with graphing software. This uses virtual desktop technology on the trading floor and private cloud systems on the server-side.

Thin Clients

Thin clients are considerably smaller than familiar tower or cake box form factor PCs. While it’s true relatively low specification Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF) PCs are available, they do not match the small size of a thin client.

A thin client is a compact device, similar in size to a consumer broadband router. It requires a display, keyboard/mouse and a network connection. When opting for a hosted desktop solution, the biggest question may be what you put in the space vacated by the PCs!

Hardware Cost

The cost of thin clients is significantly lower than a mid-range PC for Office suite productivity such as email, word processing, spread sheets and internet browsing/web applications. Typical reductions in cost are around 50%.

Power consumption

The energy consumption of a thin client is typically in the range of 3 – 9 watts. A small form factor energy efficient PC is around 50 watts. Averaged over boot up, periods of use and periods of inactivity, thin clients reduce energy consumption by up to 90% when compared to a PC CPU base unit.

More labour intensive PC software

In a conventional on premise environment, servers run server operating systems while PCs run desktop operating systems, installed on disk storage within each computer. In effect each computer is a self-contained device, configured to the network to use permitted resources such as communication tools like email and internet web browsing.

Operating systems and applications on each computer need to be installed and updated or patched when required. In the way that network administrators configure PCs and grant users permissions, it is possible to centralize control of PC software updates. This requires in-house IT administrators or external IT partners to have the correct tools and the right knowledge. Generally, it is fair to say the configuration and administrative process is more time consuming for PCs.

Simplified software of hosted desktops

Hosted desktop thin clients have no software installed. Everything resides on the server. Administration and configuration is vastly simplified. Global updates are applied by updating the server software. Hosted desktop server administration is carried out by external IT partners controlling a server residing in a remote data centre or network operation centre.

Where more advanced virtual desktop technology and private cloud systems are in use admin and management may be performed by in-house IT managers, or external IT partners.

User Experience

Thin clients offer a seamless experience for users that are familiar with PCs. The user is able to customise the look and feel of their workspace with desktop pictures, fonts etc. if permitted.

A thin client session is launched when a user logs on to the network. The server uses virtualization technology to deliver a familiar desktop with folders, files and applications just like a conventional PC. A thin client starts up very quickly. Simply turn it on and the login screen is there within a few seconds. A computer user is able to be productive straight away.

Centralized control means the user is restricted in their ability to make changes that may compromise the performance or even bring the machine down. This means greater reliability, less user frustration and more productivity.


A user is able to log onto any thin client on the network and receive their personal desktop, complete with all authorised network resources for which permissions are allowed. Hosted desktop computing enables seamless hot desking and desk sharing as well as remote working to thin clients located in satellite offices, which may be located anywhere with a suitable internet connection - on another continent or in a home office.

For those that need to have PCs or laptops, a hosted desktop solution does not prevent them having the computer that best meets their needs. Similarly, the personal preferences of senior team members for PCs, laptops or tablets can easily be accommodated within the network design.

Software installation and file copying

Unless locked down to prevent it, PCs allow software to be installed and data to be copied from the local disk storage and file servers. Thin clients have no local disk storage and are locked by default to prevent data being copied onto external storage devices by users.

Virus and malware proof

Appropriately designed thin clients are immune to virus and malware. The firmware that enables the device to interoperate with the hosted desktop server is secure and the settings are protected by 256-bit encryption.

Network security

Thin clients with robust 802.1x wired and wireless networking connect securely to local area networks (LANs). A variety of authentication methods, including single sign-on and 2-factor authentication may be used to provide users with secure logons.

Securing smartphones and tablets

With appropriate Mobile Device Management (MDM) software, hosted desktop solutions also support centralized management of company and employee owned smartphones and tablets.

TCO as a deployed solution

Above, we compared costs in terms of PC and thin client hardware and energy consumption. How does this translate into the real world where there are additional considerations for a network solution, including monitors on each desk, software, servers, switches, routers, air conditioning and the services of a technology partner?

Typically, when deployed across an SME of 20 users, the comparative TCO or Total Cost of Ownership, including capital expenditure (CAPEX) and recurring running costs (OPEX) are:

  • CAPEX – one-time costs —Hosted desktop solution reduces investment costs by approximately 68% compared to a solution based on desktop PCs

  • OPEX – annual running costs —Hosted desktop solution reduces annual recurring costs by 33% compared to a solution based on desktop PCs

Maintenance and support benefits

Hosted desktop significantly reduces the maintenance requirement. Simplified hardware means there is less to go wrong. Restricted user capability to change settings, install software and peripheral hardware means there is little chance for users to bring a machine down.

If hardware does fail, a spare thin client can simply be plugged in and logged on to the network, something that is quickly accomplished without expert help. Centralized administration and control means easier, less time consuming management processes.


Hosted desktop saves time and costs on IT configuration and management for your virtualized computing environment.

The key advantages for companies in the professional services sector are:

  • Security —Hosted desktop buttons down security and vastly simplifies the ability to meet many of the IT related regulatory requirements of specific areas of practice such as employment, legal and finance. It also addresses the more general scope of the requirements of the Information Commissioner’s Office enforcement of the Data Protection Act (ICO/DPA enforcement) & the GDPR.

  • Cost reduction —Like all businesses, professional services sector firms need to operate efficiently. Hosted desktop provides significant TCO savings over PC-based network designs. When considered in terms of simplifying IT and reducing the maintenance and labour requirement, the cost benefits are manifold.

Why Silvertel?

Silvertel Hosting was founded on 16th August 2010 and provides hosted solutions to businesses, charities & residential customers in the UK. We understand each business has its own individual IT requirements so we don’t behave like a reseller or try to sell pre-packaged services or bundles. We listen to our customers and work with them to provide them the best products and services available to fit each specific requirement.

Silvertel Hosting has the flexibility that a small organisation brings and works with a host of partners so as to provide a comprehensive range of hosted solutions and hardware to ensure best in class hosted services at the most competitive prices. Service features include:

  • Tier 3 data centres are UK based and ISO 27001 accredited.

  • Each hosted desktop user can have access to Microsoft Office 2019 and also Hosted Exchange 2019.

  • Financially backed SLA with 99.9% uptime

  • Access to Trouble ticketing Management System

  • 5min response time to service failures and service requests

  • Free Access to Knowledge base

  • Free 24/7 365 Support

  • Real time data backup, as well as a full server backup every evening.

  • Premium Webroot internet security, virus protection with multiple daily background scans and on access scans at no extra cost

  • Discounts for registered Charities

  • Optional Thin Client to access your virtual environment

  • Integrated VoIP Telephony

  • Low Cost Migration

  • Full in building surveys and installs

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