Office 365 versus Remote Desktop Hosting

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 and Hosted Desktops are both cloud based services and are rented on a monthly subscription bases.    When comparing Office 365 with hosted desktops for your business it is important to consider some of the unique selling points that hosted desktops has over Office 365

What is the main benefit of Hosted Desktops over Office 365?

Applications, Applications, Applications! The applications a customer may want access to from multiple locations are not provided or resolved with the Office 365 solution.  Office 365 is a one size fits all solution but businesses are all different shapes and sizes and one size doesn’t fit all. Businesses don’t just run Office applications such as Word and Excel, and if they do there is potentially another issue…

Internet connectivity. Customers with more than 10-15 users in one location and a relatively small internet connection (2-4mb) will see performance issues opening large documents (and saving them) with Office 365 or sending a large email to “all internal staff” of the company


If the customer has applications that users need to access remotely away from the office, for example accounts software, line of business applications with a database back end, CRM applications which are not available over the web, and need to work on a company network (for example ACT!) a (Microsoft) Hosted Desktop solution “web enables” applications that are usually tied to the company’s internal network and can’t be accessed easily by workers who are not in the same office as the server and data. I.e. the application needs a fast network to run satisfactorily and Internet access doesn’t provide this at the moment.  Office 365 does not address the millions of different applications businesses rely upon on a day to day basis.

Access or SQL database applications are a good example.  Often SME businesses have developed these over time, become completely reliant on them for business processes, expanded to multiple locations but VPN connections are no good from remote locations as these applications expect RPC at 100mb un-contended and not 2mb (ADSL) shared.   These businesses want to be able to access the information from anywhere but don’t want to spend £50K to develop on a web platform?   There are now many companies benefitting from Hosted Desktop “RemoteApp” applications where they simply click on the icon and it launches as if it is a local application even though it is running in the data centre.  The solution above requires just 64K of bandwidth per user to run as the only data being transferred over the Internet is the screen changes.


If there are lots of users in one location then Office 365 is going to hammer band width so they either need a very good ADSL line with decent up and down speeds which is potentially costly or high speed internet might not even be available.

A 2MB email with an attachment sent to 20 internal company users is 2mb-out, 40mb-back in using Office 365.   On a hosted remote desktop solution with Hosted Exchange the email is routed internally to Outlook running on the remote desktop so this doesn’t affect the customers ADSL connection or bandwidth. To send this it requires just the 64K ADSL connection (mentioned above) and the email is sent internally on a gigabit network.

ADSL upload speeds can be as little as 250 to 500Kbps so saving a large document to an Office 365 system (SharePoint) is going to be slow.   This is even more problematic with multiple users in one location. Using a hosted desktop solution this is no longer a problem because saving a document in Word or Excel is saving to the server at gigabit speed rather than 250K

A Hosted Remote Desktop solution is like having your own server on your own internal network in terms of the Internet bandwidth used, without having to purchase it, back it up, patch it and replace it in 3 years time!

It would be considered prudent, and in some cases a mandatory compliance requirement to be able to visit the data centre where data is held.   A good hosted desktop provider would be happy to facilitate this.   It is not something to be expected from Microsoft however.


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