What is Desktop as a Service vs VDI?
Understanding Desktop as a Service (DaaS) needs to start with understanding Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Essentially these are the same and the terms are often interchanged, but VDI is a solution that stands up Virtual Machines (VMs) to simplify management and support of end users. Traditionally, the term VDI was associated with when a customer uses a on-premises solution and deploy their own servers; then became popular to deploy servers to a data center (colocation) to leverage higher resiliency and redundancy. The catch to the data center option was the cost of licenses and hardware still fell to the customer, even if there was an MSP providing support.
To reduce IT CAPEX costs, providers saw the opportunity to provide customers an alternative by taking on the licensing and infrastructure costs – resulting in Desktop as a Service solutions as an OPEX. There are many options available with popular solutions coming from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft.
Not All DaaS solution Are Created Equal
There are two differences to deploying virtual desktop solutions – persistent and non-persistent. Before we dive into that, let’s review the components that make up a virtual desktop:
- Data – This is straight forward, and consists of your files, photos, music, etc.
- Profile – A profile includes configuration settings, username/identification, access rights, etc.
- Applications – The tools needed by the end user, for example this could be Office365, UCaaS, ERP, etc.
With a high-level understanding of the three sections, we can review how they are affected in the two deployment options.
A persistent desktop leverages the three sections above but requires more storage. The virtual desktop remains unchanged when logging off and back on again and can be customized to the end user’s liking. Though with the need for more storage, there are higher costs. The ideal user for this option tends to be the power users, designers, engineers, etc.
For most organizations, the non-persistent model is more typical. From the sections outlined above, the data and profiles will be consistent. Though when a user logs off, the desktop (application section including cookies, cache, etc.) is erased and reset. This keeps storage costs down, load times faster, and easier to patch/update.
What are the advantages of Desktop as a Service?
Local devices, no matter if it is a corporate or personal device, become a portal to the virtual desktop and infrastructure. Data is stored at the data center, and not on the end device, making it far easier to adhere to compliance regulations, enforce security policies, and considerably lower risks. For example, if a laptop were lost/stolen, it can easily be disconnected from the service. With no data on the device, the risk of data theft or accessing sensitive information is low.
Customers rest a little easier knowing that their DaaS solution is backed by a provider SLA, support, and redundant infrastructure. Optionally, providers can support tickets and helpdesk to further minimize downtime.
Thanks to the nature of virtualizing end user desktops, it becomes far easier and faster to spin up/down users. The desktop is pre-configured and just needs an end user to connect. This is highly beneficial to customers dealing with seasonal business, but also great for customers that may experience high turnover or need to quickly adopt new users from a merger/acquisition. Overall help customers save a lot of time and money.
DaaS solutions can run on a mix of devices and operating systems, making for a great secure option in BYOD (bring your own device) environments. Virtual desktops also have much lower requirements for CPU, RAM, and storage, allowing customers to also save money if they are providing end devices to users.
What’s the Catch, How Is It Priced, and How Does DaaS Work?
While there are many providers offering DaaS, with of the most popular options come from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft. There are several underlying solutions to consider, each with their own pros/cons.
When it comes to how the MSPs and CSPs work, it is similar across the board. A provider will bundle the infrastructure (including connectivity, compute, and storage) along with licenses, support, and optionally manage applications, patches/updates, and creating user profiles.
To the end user, it becomes no different than a streaming service for their business data and applications, which makes it important to discuss connectivity and ensure reliable connections.
The final component to touch on is pricing. Unfortunately, we cannot share numbers as each solution from each provider is different, though how they derive the pricing is similar. Cost factors include three components – infrastructure, software, and labor. Then the charges to the customer are determined from number of users as well as the resource needs (vCPU, vRAM, and Storage). Keep in mind many DaaS providers will have other solutions to complement too – email security, backup and/or disaster recovery, etc.
As you engage with customers, it’s important to remember not all environments are the same. It is crucial to understand their requirements as well as their desired results. At TBI, the Tech Gurus are here to assist every step of the way with these opportunities. The best time to engage us is EARLY and often! We are here to help. Just reach out to your Channel Manager or through the TBI OnDemand App.
About the Author
Joe Fizor is a Solutions Engineer at TBI. Joe provides technical and vendor-agnostic expertise to partners and customers on cloud, hosted voice, network (including SD-WAN), colocation, security and more. Joe’s support extends beyond consultation/discovery with partners and end-users but also collaborates with vendors to ensure design and implementation needs are met. Prior to TBI, Joe worked in the VAR space, designing enterprise networking solutions: security, routing, switching, wireless and collaboration. His certifications include: CCNA, CCDA, Cisco Meraki Network Associate, Palo Alto Networks, Palo Alto Accredited Sales Expert, Palo Alto Accredited Configuration Engineer, RingCentral, Veeam, Rackspace, AWS.