How next-generation remote desktops give power users more flexibility [Q&A]
Driven by the pandemic, remote work has normalized in many offices. But while it works for a lot of tasks, it’s not that useful for power users.
Think architects, 3D developers, game developers, and designers who rely on high-power computing to get their jobs done. You can’t just take home a $ 50,000 workstation to do your job.
We spoke to Benjy Boxer, CEO of remote desktop company Parsec, to find out how the next generation remote desktops solve this problem and allow almost anyone to work remotely.
BN: Remote desktop technologies have been around for a long time for low-computing applications. What is the challenge for power users or people who need access to powerful workstations?
BB: Yes, remote desktop technologies have actually been around for a long time – do you remember the days of Microsoft Virtual PC? – but they are designed to be as useful as possible, mainly for low-computational applications. Think of basic Office functions like accessing files remotely and running software like Microsoft Word. This was the wave of remote desktop consumption.
Over time, large service organizations began to use remote desktop technology to remotely troubleshoot problems on customers’ computers. In both of the scenarios described above, these comprehensive remote desktop utilities worked just fine.
Where the traditional remote desktop falls short is to reproduce the experience of working on a high-performance workstation. The moment input latency or video smoothness becomes an integral part of a job, the remote desktop collapses. This is especially important for professionals in the creative fields – game developers, architects, 3D designers, etc. – whose tasks depend on interactive 3D applications running on powerful workstations.
The fact is that these creatives would also like to have a computing powerhouse at home, it’s just not practical – and also not economically feasible for employers, since hardware of this caliber can reach tens of thousands of dollars if you consider the main things computers, peripherals, external hard drives, etc.
Well, meeting the needs of a creative professional is great, but things get even harder when you add collaborative tasks to the mix. In an office, reviewing a final rendering or pairing it in an engineering project is as easy as walking to the workstation and sitting together. However, the traditional remote desktop lacked fluid collaboration functionality. It just wasn’t designed for that.
Traditionally, the market has lacked a remote desktop solution that has the performance these creative professionals need, as well as the control, automation, and security functions for IT to safely introduce these technologies across the company. And without this, it is impossible to adequately meet the high computing power requirements of the average company. And when those people who need access to their high-performance computers can’t do this job from anywhere, they’ll be stuck, tied to their desks, watching their colleagues be free to work from anywhere. A remote desktop for the high-performance creative class gives them freedom and flexibility while diversifying where a company can hire.
BN: How has COVID affected the lives of these power users?
BB: Many employees today feel liberated by the urge to work from home – creative people are no exception. In fact, many claim that working from home leads to greater productivity and creativity. Interestingly, last year we conducted a study that found that 78 percent of our game developer customers and 92 percent of our animation and computer graphics customers were more satisfied with working from home.
For many of these professionals, the pandemic was their first real work from home experience. And now they want it all the time.
In all industries we see that distributed work is becoming a basic expectation of every job search. If companies fail to meet this demand, the best talent will look elsewhere. And these creatives are no exception.
Working from home – or on the beach in Thailand – felt like freedom for many of these professionals, but the reality kicked in when they had to rely on consumer-grade computers. Just think of a game developer who runs a game engine on a low-end PC. Sure, it will run, but the lag, low resolution, and harsh mouse or gamepad controls would severely hamper the developer’s ability to get the job done at its peak.
BN: How have the needs of IT teams changed as they support these users? What are some of your unique challenges?
BB: IT has been hit hard by the pandemic. One group, already overwhelmed and understaffed, was underwater at the height of COVID-19, trying to keep employees productive remotely – while protecting the company’s assets.
Before the pandemic, our focus was on consumer gaming, but as we all pulled away, corporate demand started to flow in from industries like TV production, CGI design, architecture, 3D design, etc. Parsec for Teams’ but that still couldn’t quite scale for use in large companies.
We heard feedback from our customers’ CIOs and IT departments that they needed more security and more controls to deploy and manage virtual cloud and physical workstations from anywhere so they could scale the solution to their large workforce.
To give you an interesting example, we organized two major gaming events last year – Ubisoft Forward and TriBeCa Games. These companies used Parsec to offer remote demos and make their events accessible to attendees who were unable to attend in person. The key word here is accessibility.
Aside from the low latency, these companies picked us because we could scale to any deployment size, which is critical for big game launches. Our Parsec for Teams API offers granular control, automation and integration functions to enable mass access to demos and enable these massive deployments.
BN: There are some interesting, overlapping trends like ‘The Metaverse’. What does the future look like there and what will play a role in its creation?
BB: It’s impossible to guess what ‘The Metaverse’ will actually look like. It will not be created by a single company, but will be the result of thousands and thousands of developers contributing to interactive 3D projects that are just ideas for the moment.
Our role in the metaverse is simple: empowering creators to actually build these worlds. It uses next generation technologies like AR and VR to really merge the internet with the physical. It’s about providing more content in 3D, which is computationally intensive. But to make The Metaverse a reality, more 3D assets are needed, served in real time. This is where we come in. We connect the makers who create these projects to the lowest latency technology available. Parsec lets you build these new 3D worlds from anywhere.
And this idea of The Metaverse goes way beyond gaming; 3D environments have made their way into other sectors such as engineering, retail, construction, manufacturing, etc. This is where every industry steers. That’s work that’s happening now – and we’re incredibly excited to be at the interface.
Photo credit: HayDimitry / depositphotos.com