What is Desktop as a Service?

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Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is the second desktop virtualization solution after the traditional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Although VDIs preceded the virtual desktop technology, DaaS adoption is rapidly gaining prominence.

Some critical reasons for DaaS' increasingly insane adoption include scalability, flexibility and a flexible pricing model. These, and other benefits such as security, explain the growing trend where we now see businesses starting to shift from VDIs to DaaS. 

A 2023 Global Hybrid Cloud Survey by Parallels reveals that 37% of IT professionals have already implemented a DaaS solution in their companies. Based on the findings, 78% of IT professionals plan to adopt at least one DaaS solution by 2025.

The increasing adoption is a testament to the strengths of DaaS over similar solutions such as the VDI.

It’s no wonder the Global DaaS market is projected to grow at a record 21% CAGR between 2023 and 2032. But what exactly makes DaaS so appealing?

This article discusses DaaS and benefits to organizations. We’ll also learn what makes it different from VDI and PCaaS, plus how to choose the best DaaS provider for your company. 

Defining Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides users with virtual desktops that are hosted in the cloud.

Instead of managing physical desktop infrastructure locally, organizations subscribe to DaaS solutions. In other words, users  access their desktop environments remotely through the internet. Think, for example, of an employee being able to work on files and applications without having these resources installed in their desktops, etc.  

This cloud-based approach offers flexibility and makes it easier for businesses to manage desktop resources in an efficient manner.

The  desktop virtualization platform is offered as a subscription-based service.

How DaaS works

The cloud service provider hosts desktops running on virtual machines with network resources, storage, and infrastructure on the cloud. 

Users can then access the desktop applications and data streamed to their PC, laptop, or tablet by the service provider through a software or web browser.

DaaS was developed to eliminate overreliance on physical computers as the only component for end-user desktop infrastructure. This way, your organization can access more flexible plans with unlimited storage and processing power.

Since virtual desktop applications stream from a centralized server via the internet, they offer unlimited storage and computing power. In case of a server experiencing workload overload, the administrators can move a running desktop from one server to another.

Such flexibility explains why DaaS can seamlessly support resource-intensive applications such as CAD software to load in seconds.

Key benefits of DaaS

The design and technology behind DaaS offers a wide range of benefits to businesses. Here are the top five:

1. Enhanced security

One of the critical considerations businesses must make before acquiring a cloud solution is security. With DaaS, data is stored in a data center. If a device, say a laptop, is stolen, it can be disconnected from the service, and this will safeguard the data.

Additionally, you can simultaneously install updates and patches to all desktops in a DaaS environment remotely. This protects the devices against attacks stemming from poor patching, such as zero-day attacks.

Also Read: Zero Click Attacks 

2. Reduced IT workload

DaaS providers conduct maintenance and management of data storage, backups and updates on behalf of the client organization. They also manage the security of applications and desktops.

Hence, the IT team’s administrative workload, including deployment, configuration, and management, is significantly reduced.

3. Scalability

Lack of sufficient resources is one of the reasons organizations especially in the small businesses category find it challenging to acquire software solutions. For instance, if you’re deploying a VDI, you must plan for its scaling and financing before the deployment. 

That’s unlike DaaS, as you can start with as many resources as fits your budget. Then, you can provision additional resources on-demand or as your business requirements increase.

Let’s say your organization uses DaaS and needs 10 additional staff for a four-month project. You can provision the ten additional virtual desktops for each of the staff and scale them down at the end of the project. 

4. Lower upfront costs

Financial incentives, access to premium offerings, and convenience are the top benefits drawing customers to subscription-based models. Each organization wants to maximize profits while lowering operational costs.

DaaS is provisioned on a subscription-based model. That means you only pay for the services the company consumes during each billing cycle. That saves the need to cater to on-premise resources and deployment costs upfront.

Besides, DaaS deployment occurs via the cloud environment. This saves installation costs and on-premise storage space.

Also Read: Storage as a Service

5. Unlimited accessibility

According to Forbes Advisor, 51% of employees prefer flexible working hours for their ideal work office. This is something that is easily achievable with DaaS, as employees can create virtual work environments anytime, anywhere. 

After all, DaaS supports accessibility on multiple devices, including laptops and smartphones. Hence, employees can access them anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Key disadvantages of Daas

Experts have constantly observed two significant challenges with Desktop as a Service (DaaS):

1. Higher management costs

Poor planning and uncontrolled provisioning may lead to a high cost of ownership in the long run.

The IT team must be proactive in preventing the provision of unnecessary virtual desktop instances as part of cost management. 

Also Read: Best Practices for cloud Cost Management 

2. Device management issues

DaaS doesn’t eliminate the need for physical devices, as users still need an interface to connect to a DaaS session. In such an ecosystem, trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) become the norm. This forces organizations to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.

Now, the challenge with BYOD is the risk of data security and privacy concerns. It means that IT teams must be extra vigilant to ensure user devices can access sessions without compromising security.

Also Read: Shadow IT plus the best solutions for dealing with Shadow IT

Types of DaaS

Vendor solutions have evolved in design to meet varying organizational demands. These demands include the need to have control over the solution with customizations. 

Some companies seek to customize the solution with their configurations. However, other companies want to leave all administrative tasks to the vendor.

With such scenarios in mind, there are three types of DaaS:

1. Self-assembled

The client organization acquires DaaS components to build their solution. They handle infrastructure configuration and virtual machine management. The customer is also responsible for aspects such as user support and application. 

The vendor oversees component provision, operation, infrastructure management, and updates. This includes the hosting environment and maintenance.

The vendor and the client share some of the responsibilities. This includes handling network and security operations, infrastructure configuration, and infrastructure operations.

In a typical setup for this type of DaaS, the client controls up to 70% of the DaaS operations. They can customize settings, including storage, network, security, and server configurations. 

However, the client requires a high level of traditional VDI skills to deploy, configure and manage the self-assembled DaaS.

Amazon WorkSpaces, Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, and VMware Horizon Cloud belong to this category.

2. Vendor-assembled

With vendor-assembled DaaS, the client focuses on virtual desktop management. The vendor is responsible for most of the components, including managing server and storage as well as configuring the infrastructure.

The vendor's other components include image, network, application, and security management.

The client can customize security, image, application, network management, and even user support.

Windows 365 and Amazon WorkSpaces are some of the examples of DaaS solutions that can be classified under this category.

3. Vendor-managed

Vendor-managed DaaS allows the vendor to manage and support the service entirely. The vendor manages the virtual machine operating systems (User Windows patching and updating) and offers support.

The customer can only customize the app management and user support.

This segment includes managed service providers and systems integrators.

DaaS vs. PCaaS vs. VDI 

PCaaS is a device lifecycle management model that allows organizations to rent or lease hardware and management services at a monthly subscription fee from a vendor. This service allows organizations to access and use computing resources at lower costs.

PCaaS differs significantly from DaaS and VDIs based on purpose. PCaaS entails hardware purchasing, retiring, managing, or refreshing. It is meant to simplify IT management by offering a single point of contact for device management and billing.

On the other hand, VDI and DaaS are desktop virtualization solutions. They deliver virtual desktops and applications to end users via an endpoint device.

However, VDI and DaaS also bear significant differences. 

A VDI is a product that is deployed on-premise in a data center. It is a do-it-yourself solution that clients pay an upfront fee to acquire. The customer is responsible for installation, deployment, configuration, and maintenance.

On the contrary, DaaS is deployed in a remote-hosted location (usually a public cloud). Client organizations can access it on a subscription-based model and are not responsible for building the underlying infrastructure.

Instead, the service provider is responsible for acquiring, deploying and maintaining the DaaS infrastructure.

How to choose the best DaaS provider?

The various types of DaaS and the multiple service providers in the market can plunge decision makers into a state where one is not sure of what to go with. 

Luckily, you can benefit from our experience of many years and deep-rooted interactions with providers to help you settle on the best DaaS solution for your company's needs. 

Base your decision on the following considerations:

Infrastructure and endpoint security

The underlying DaaS infrastructure must be well configured for the best user experience, optimum performance and cost. 

Please pay attention to storage performance, network architecture, and resource management.

Network architecture

Look for an architecture that is structured to support the best user experience while protecting the performance — think separation of concerns. 

For example, a failure in the back-end communication should not affect user experience. And users should not influence the desktop performance. This eliminates constant downtime.

Also Read: Factors that contribute to downtime costs 

Storage performance

Limited storage space can cause sluggish desktop performance. Consider a service provider that utilizes solid-state storage for reliability.

Solid-state storage is known for efficiency and resistance to physical shocks. 

Resource management

Some service providers offer a shared model to save on resources and costs. However, users can never determine their guaranteed share of CPU and RAM. As well, a glitch from a single user can compromise the entire environment. 

Because of this, we advise that you consider a service provider who offers dedicated resources for each virtual desktop.

Features

Some service providers offer limited features, while others have a wide range of features. Here are the must-have features for a robust DaaS solution:

  • Reporting and analytics for costs and resources
  • Multi-factor authentication support for data security
  • Availability of access level control policies for users and objects
  • Support for secure remote desktop protocols
  • Integration with a wide range of tools, such as threat-monitoring tools
  • Tools to manage resources, users, and assignments
  • Compliance with data protection standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS
  • Vendor-managed cloud control plane

Pricing

Different pricing models mean different value offerings. So you want to pick a model that aligns with your needs.

For instance, a flat fee pricing model allows users to access the virtual desktops (unlimited) for a fixed fee. With this plan, you get to operate on predictable costs. Worries around employees exceeding the budget are eliminated.

On the other hand, the consumption-based model allows organizations to pay at the end of the month for all the resources utilized. This model is best suited for organizations that often scale up and down during peak seasons and low seasons respectively.

A rule of thumb is to start by identifying who needs to access the solution and when they need to access it.

Also Read: MSP Pricing Guide

Conclusion

You may have noticed that businesses have started to embrace the emerging flexible working systems such as remote work, hybrid work and temporary employees.

Such a multifaceted approach demands scalable and collaborative employee resources. And DaaS offers the flexibility required in this emerging modern working ecosystem.

Furthermore, DaaS allows you to replicate the office hardware in a virtual workplace. This empowers employees to work from anywhere, anytime. 

All these wins explain why more organizations are starting to move to DaaS. We won't be surprised to see it take over as the new normal for desk-based work.

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