What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Introductory Guide
Learn about the operational benefits and cost-saving solutions DaaS (desktop as a service) brings in for enterprises, featuring a comparison chart with VDI.
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Cloud technologies have already proven to have immense potential, but most companies are far from seizing the full spectrum of “cloud” opportunities. While SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications are already a "given" at most organizations, far fewer are using extra cloud-based offerings to improve remote work. Desktop as a service (DaaS) is one cloud sub-offering. Why and when use DaaS? Here’s a detailed take from our team.
What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?
DaaS solutions provide organizations with access to on-demand, virtualized desktop environments on a pay-per-seat basis. Hosted by the service provider, virtualized desktops are configured based on your operational needs with sufficient storage and computing resources provided to run all required workloads. In addition, the provider also takes care of the virtual desktops’ security, maintenance, back-ups and patching.
DaaS providers enable secure provisioning of virtual and desktop apps to any device from any location. Legacy locally-hosted apps, cloud-hosted SaaS applications, or full Windows-based virtual desktop — your staff can access all of them via their browsers. Some vendors also deliver hardware (user devices) alongside virtual desktop services. User devices are also remotely managed and replenished, on-demand, effectively reducing the hassle of asset management.
What this means for customers: Gain access to a pre-configured virtual desktop infrastructure, on-demand with key IT admin and maintenance tasks, handled by the services provider. Retain sensitive data on virtual servers, hosted in a local data center, on a private or public cloud, instead of end-user devices.
Two types of DaaS solutions
Instead of purchasing extra hardware (and investing in ongoing management and replacement), DaaS enables customers to place their workloads on cloud resources and access all the necessary apps on-demand.
To maximize cost savings, consider implementing both:
- Persistent desktops: Permanent instances, allowing users to preserve personalized settings, configs and stored data at every log-in session.
- Non-persistent desktop: Stateless, temporary desktops, generated anew for each user session. Data and configurations are wiped at the end of each session.
Persistent desktops require a separate logical drive and computing resources, making the maintenance more expensive. However, they deliver the same experience of a ‘regular’ workplace station. Persistent desktops are best-suited for users consistently operating with sensitive data.
Non-persistent desktops are more cost-effective since end-user data can be separated from the OS and designated to lower-cost storage. Moreover, non-persistent desktops are easier to maintain. After creating a master image, the administrator can duplicate it in a few minutes to create a new desktop version and exercise centralized management of all copies. Non-persistent desktops are well-suited for supporting a homogenous end-user base with basic virtual desktop needs.
How does DaaS work?
DaaS provides ‘turnkey’ access to virtual desktops. In cloud DaaS deployments, the vendor maintains the infrastructure, storage and network resources and delivers virtual desktops to the users. The desktops are accessible via a web browser or installed app. With on-prem DaaS deployments, the above responsibilities are on your team.
In both cases, however, the vendor also provides desktop ‘servicing’ — regular security scans, software installations and updates, patching, regulatory and compliance updates, remote troubleshooting, and management; in addition to regular hardware replacement. Instead of purchasing a fleet of devices and software licenses upfront, you can provision serviceable virtual desktops on-demand, as well as receive timely access to devices with premium core processors and hardware-enhanced security features.
As for the cloud component, DaaS is typically powered by the latest generation of GPU and CPU processors in public or private cloud data centers, capable of processing high-loads at unprecedented speeds.
Why DaaS: The main benefits
Unlike traditional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), DaaS doesn’t require added setup and maintenance costs. That’s a significant saving given that most enterprises experience the following constraints when it comes to IT management, as reported by a Forrester study:
- 81 percent struggle to establish sufficient security configurations and may operate without the latest updates, have gaps in data security, and unfulfilled standard installation specs.
- 75 percent recognize gaps in productivity due to subpar workstation performance (and outdated hardware) — which both step from low-efficiency IT management.
- 60 percent denote the need to reduce IT costs via improving asset management standards, IT process standardization and higher ITSM efficiency.
- 56 percent acknowledge the lack of mature IT management capabilities — IT service delivery is sporadic and inconsistent across user devices.
- 50 percent name lack of workforce mobility as a barrier to productivity as portable device management and resource provisioning remains a challenge.
Best-in-class DaaS offerings cover the full spectrum of the above-mentioned corporate needs, empowering organizations and their people with reliable, flexible and secure access to pre-configured virtual environments on a pay-per-seat basis.
Subsequently, DaaS adopters gain the following benefits:
- Shift from CapEx to OpEx spending: Gain on-demand access to resources instead of paying for idle (and soon obsolete) hardware.
- Flexibility and scalability: Provision extra non-persistent desktops for temporary needs; expand or abridge your virtual environments depending on current business needs to shave off excessive costs.
- Business continuity: Leverage DaaS as part of disaster recovery (DR) plans to maintain high workforce employee productivity in the wake of operational disruption.
- Re-assign internal resources: Refocus internal ITSM resources towards higher-value tasks.
VDI vs DaaS: The difference explained
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) performs a similar function to DaaS — provides remote access to virtualized desktops, hosted in the on-premises data center.
In short, VDI establishes an endpoint for remote access to corporate resources. Your organization is fully responsible for managing both on-premises infrastructure, virtual environments and network connectivity. The above makes VDI less cost-effective than DaaS.
The following table further summarizes the differences between VDI and DaaS:
- CapEx: High
- OpEx: Moderate to High (depends on your process maturity)
- Deployment: Heavy lift, requiring internal human and financial resources
- Networking requirements: Can be provisioned both via the Internet and Intranet
- Reliability: Dependent on in-house IT capabilities
- CapEx: None (unless you also commission user devices from the vendor)
- OpEx: High (compared to VDI or app virtualization)
- Deployment: Seamless, on-demand, point-and-click experience
- Networking requirements: Dependent on Internet connectivity
- Reliability: SLA-backed
Is DaaS the optimal solution for your business? Depends on your current needs and short-term operational priorities. From our experience, we found that clients realize the most value from DaaS when they are struggling to meet the growing needs of the remote workforce, have a good fraction of IT budgets tied into supporting legacy hardware, and would like to attain a higher degree of standardization across desktop, laptop and mobile environments.
To determine if DaaS is the right solution for your organization, continue to explore our resources and reach out if you'd like to discuss further.