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Defining the strategy for your end-user platform is increasingly complex. The range of solution options and the functionality they offer are changing rapidly. The vision for the platform should correlate directly to your employee base and organizational context, ideally derived through a workforce persona analysis. This approach allows you to understand use cases across the user base and design a solution architecture, which accounts for their functional requirements.   

We tend to think of the end-user platform as an application delivery solution; typically, architectures will be comprised of a variety of delivery mechanisms aligned to specific use cases. The maturity of cloud provides opportunities to optimize end-user experience and lend to operational and cost benefits, all while meeting security and compliance requirements.

 However, it's critical to align solutions to use-case-specific requirements and ensure they exist within a consistent control and architectural standard and consider cost factors when deploying a large-scale cloud deployment compared to an on-prem solution.

Global financial services have a choice

Global financial services institutions require IT solutions that adhere to versatile, fast-paced business dynamics and a highly mobile workforce, and they must operate under extremely rigid regulatory restrictions. This is why, when it comes to end-user desktops, many large financial organizations are moving away from on-premises VDI solutions to all cloud-based desktop solutions. 

These solutions offer users secure access to virtual desktops from any device with an internet connection, allowing executives, IT management and end-users to increase their productivity and operate with greater efficiency. 

The three top choices, cloud virtual desktop, desktop as a service (DaaS) and desktop-less, differ in their architecture and functionality, so it matters which one your organization chooses. We do some deciphering below to help you make the right decision.  

Cloud virtual desktops

Running virtual desktops in the cloud enables organizations to take advantage of the agility and scalability of the public cloud. Users access their desktop environment and applications much as they do today, but with the addition of cloud benefits like global scale to bring the desktops closer to the user--reducing latency and significantly improving user experience.

For technology teams, the value of cloud-based virtual desktops is even greater. If it's scalability you're seeking, this solution is a solid choice, because you can easily add or remove users as needed, without the need for expensive hardware upgrades. This is the most flexible option for both configuration and management, though cloud providers continue to deliver additional features that reduce the overhead and management required to run a cloud virtual desktop environment.

Cloud virtual desktops also can help to reduce costs as they eliminate the need to purchase and maintain expensive, and often clunky, hardware and software infrastructure. Instead, you'll only need to pay for the resources you need, either on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis.  

Cloud virtual desktops support the broadest potential use cases from general-purpose VDI to disaster recovery to GPU-enabled desktops.  Solutions in this category similarly vary widely. Many financial organizations are utilizing VMware footprints within their chosen cloud provider (Azure VMware Solution, VMware Cloud on AWS or Google Cloud VMware Engine) to host desktops managed by the same tools they use on-premises today, such as Horizon or Citrix. Others are modernizing their virtual desktop infrastructure to take advantage of the more advanced managed services within the cloud providers including AWS Workspaces and Azure Virtual Desktop.  

Read how WWT helps our financial customers to design, deploy and migrate to Cloud Virtual Desktop at scale. 

Desktop as a service (DaaS)

DaaS solutions bring a fully managed virtual desktop environment from a third-party provider, including the operating system, applications, and data storage, that connects remotely using a web browser or a client application.

DaaS is particularly useful for businesses that have a large remote workforce as it allows employees to access the same desktop environment from anywhere in the world, and you can rapidly provision additional resources as needed without having to deploy additional products. It also provides a high level of security as all data is stored in the cloud rather than on individual devices.

One of the main advantages of DaaS is that it eliminates the need for businesses to purchase and maintain their own physical desktops. Instead, they can simply pay for access to virtual desktops on a subscription basis, which can be scaled up or down as needed with the subscription fee based on the number of users who need access to the service. 

Prime use cases include developers and managed services providers


Desktop-less is a cloud-based application delivery system that provides users with a virtual workspace and access to applications and services without the need for a traditional desktop interface. Users can access their applications and services through a web browser or mobile app. 

This is a great solution for a very mobile and versatile workforce because users can access their desktops through a range of devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones, without having to be tied to a specific physical location or device. 

Going desktop-less allows for cloud-based productivity, which streamlines IT operations and reduces hardware and software costs. 

As always the nature of the applications, data and security tends to drive the application hosting platform and delivery mechanism, with endpoint standards, user profiles and data being key considerations to ensure a consistent user experience.  In addition, application interoperability can be a challenge if serving applications from multiple sources.

The extent to which applications are delivered from non "desktop" hosts can obviously vary. Doing this across majority type use cases increases the dependency on effective application awareness and management to ensure security, stability and performance. 

Use cases are application-centric for developers as well as legacy application support

Cloud desktop options summary

The key differences between these solutions are in the level of control and customization they offer to users and the level of management they require from the provider. Desktop-less cloud solutions offer limited customization and control, while virtual cloud desktops offer more control but require some management from the user, and DaaS offers a fully managed solution with limited customization. 

Overall, these three solutions offer benefits to organizations looking to provide their users with flexible and secure access to virtual desktops. The choice between the two will depend on an organization's specific needs and priorities.

As always, the key is to architecturally separate the different components (physical, applications and data) effectively which, along with other benefits, allows you to surface the right combination of delivery mechanism and access policy for a given context, i.e. device type and location.

See these solutions in action

The very best way to determine which solution would be best for your organization is to see them in action. 

WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) is a collaborative ecosystem to design, build, educate, demonstrate and deploy innovative technology products and integrated architectural solutions. 

We can simulate your environment in the ATC and test and compare these cloud desktop solutions to see how they function within your infrastructure, weighing goals and objectives, to determine which solution best meets your organization's needs. 

Dive in further with a WWT Cloud VDI Briefing
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