Recently, I answered some questions on DaaS or desktop as a service. I thought it would be worth posting the answers to those questions here since it’s become somewhat of a trending topic. I hope to have something on XaaS that outlines some of the other ___ as a Service concepts.

What is Desktop as a Service? How does it work?

At it’s most basic, Desktop as a Service or DaaS is really just a virtualized version of the computer sitting on your desk. Except, instead of sitting on your desk it’s software that sits on a server in a datacenter and shared with many more . Of course, those virtual machines, whether they be workstations or powerful servers, are securely quarantined off from each other. By virtualizing the hardware many desktops can sit in the same space. This technology has been in use for years with servers and the economies of scale are finally making its way to desktop users. With the means of storing more desktops and reducing the amount of hardware necessary to run it, companies and users are now able to pay for what they use versus the traditional way of buying a workstation only to see it depreciate in value and performance. With the DaaS model, desktops can be deployed with relative ease en masse and upgraded using the same means. Plus, the data you commit is generally stored in a secure facility and backed up on a regular basis. Thus making it more secure and reliable than a traditional workstation that sits on your desktop.

What is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and what’s the relation between DaaS and VDI?

DaaS and VDI are similar but can mean different things to different people. Using the aaS model, the customer pays a provider as they would the utility company. They pay for what they use based on the agreed-upon usage rate. Consume amount of storage, for amount of people, costs amount of dollars per minute/hour/month/year or whatever you and your provider agree to. A VDI or virtual desktop infrastructure is similar to DaaS in that the technology may be identical to what a DaaS provider uses but rather the infrastructure is pre-built to sustain whatever the need is. Typically, a company with the means to host their own hardware and administer all the components involved (servers, storage, networking, security, endpoints, etc.,) may opt for a VDI implementation instead seeing the long-term cost benefits. In some instances, it may be more cost effective for IT departments to opt for the DaaS model instead of making the commitment to capital, time and training. At this point, it’s what’s right for the organization and not a one size fit all approach.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of DaaS?

While there are plenty of advantages to DaaS: speed, reliability, redundancy, portability (you can access your desktop just about anywhere in the world with an internet connected device) with reduced cost keep in mind there are some drawbacks that one should be aware of. Ironically, the first disadvantage may be cost (I know, I said cost is an advantage too). There are some instances where the cost of a large-scale deployment may be less expensive if the infrastructure was supported internally. For some organizations, they may already have favorable licensing agreements with vendors and have the necessary hardware to deploy a complicated virtualized desktop rollout. Conversely, an organization may find that they’re able to negotiate their DaaS pricing to something that beats building out internally. The important thing to remember is to work closely with your vendors and partners before making a decision. Understand where the cost of software licensing plays a factor in your budget. How many users require those licenses? Will the number of desktops shrink and grow seasonally? If so, it may be beneficial to opt for DaaS instead where you can pay less the months you require fewer desktops. Remember, it’s important to think about where your organization will be in 12 to 24 months rather just the here and now. That will simplify your decision.