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VoIP phone services for customers with on-premises and remote VDI

If you have customers that have virtualized their desktops, the next logical step might be to help them make VoIP

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available through their virtual desktops. VoIP offers tremendous cost savings benefits over traditional phone service, and while sites with physical desktops can share in the benefits, these benefits are often compounded when VoIP connectivity is made available through virtual desktops. This is especially true when those virtual desktops are remotely accessible. As a VAR, you can generate additional revenue while also helping your customers reduce their costs by educating them on the benefits of combining VoIP with remote desktops.

Decrease cell phone usage

The most immediate way in which making VoIP phone services available on remote virtual desktops can reduce costs for your customer is by decreasing mobile users' dependency on cell phones. Even though cell phones have become a commodity item, organizations often spend a considerable amount of money annually providing cell phones to mobile users. Some of the costs involved include the phone itself, the monthly service fee, roaming charges and overages charges for excess voice or data usage. These charges increase exponentially every time the organization adds a new line of cellular service.

If users are able to place and receive calls through their remote desktops, company-provided cell phones may become unnecessary. While it is true that some users might still need cell phones for receiving calls after hours, at least some users will probably be able to use VoIP on the virtual desktop instead of a cell phone.

This benefit also comes into play when a customer deploys VoIP for physical desktops, whether users are on premises or remote.

Users become more accessible

Another advantage to making VoIP phone services available on remote and on-premises virtual desktops is that the VoIP service is bound to the virtual desktop, not to the physical device that the user is working from. This means that the user's "phone" follows them from device to device. For example, a remote user might use a laptop during business hours and a tablet after hours. Both of these devices are capable of establishing a remote desktop session, thereby allowing the user to make and receive VoIP calls.

Not only does separating the VoIP software from a physical device give the user the freedom to use the device that makes the most sense for them, it also helps to improve the overall consistency of the end user experience. Because the VoIP software resides on a virtual desktop rather than being installed directly onto a physical device, the user does not have to worry about differences in VoIP clients. If the VoIP software were installed locally on a physical desktop or laptop, for instance, there might be differences between the Windows version and the Macintosh version, or the tablet version might be different from the desktop version. Providing users with a consistent experience across devices helps to improve the user's productivity while potentially reducing the volume of help desk calls.

Service integration

Yet another benefit to providing VoIP services on virtual desktops, whether on-premises or remote, is that depending on which VoIP software is being used, there might be additional services provided beyond basic voice communications. Furthermore, these services can sometimes be extended into the customer's line-of-business applications.

Suppose, for example, that one of your customers decides to implement VoIP through Microsoft Lync. Lync Server offers many capabilities beyond VoIP. Some of the more notable features include video conferencing, online meetings with shared desktops and whiteboards, and presence information.

For those not familiar with presence, it is a way of conveying a user's availability in real time. For example, a presence indicator might show that a user is available, on another call or offline. Having the Lync client display each user's availability in real time is obviously handy, but presence information can also be conveyed through other applications such as Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook. Having presence information readily available within frequently used applications often allows users to collaborate and communicate with one another more efficiently.

This benefit also comes into play when a customer deploys VoIP for physical desktops, whether users are on-premises or remote.

Simplified configuration

One last reason why it is beneficial to install VoIP software onto virtual desktops instead of installing it locally on each client device is that running the software on virtual desktops greatly simplifies the software's deployment and configuration. This is true whether the virtual desktop is on-premises or used remotely. Installing VoIP software onto each end user device can prove to be a tedious experience, especially if the organization allows the use of personal devices. Installing the VoIP client onto virtual desktops allows the software to be centrally deployed and managed. It might also reduce licensing costs because the VoIP client software is typically licensed based on the number of installed copies. Under that licensing model, it is less expensive to install the VoIP client on one virtual desktop per user than onto every single physical device that the user decides to use.

Brien Posey is a freelance technical writer who has received Microsoft’s MVP award six times. He has served as CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care companies and as a network administrator for the U.S. Department of Defense at Fort Knox, Ky.

This was first published in December 2012

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