Apr 02 2015
Data Center

Dueling Desktop Showdown: DaaS Versus VDI

Learn how desktops as a service and virtual desktop infrastructure compare and where they fit best.

Desktops as a Service has gained popularity because it offloads the task of managing software and infrastructure to a cloud provider, while virtual desktop infrastructure offers organizations an option for hosting desktops in their own data centers.

The two technologies both ease desktop management and foster mobility and flexibility. Yet there are also differences between DaaS and VDI. Knowing when or if to use either solution is critical to a successful implementation.

VDI enables centralized servers to virtualize users’ desktops on demands. Software, applications and data are stored on a server, not on the local device. VDI promises centralized maintenance and strong security for IT administrators and an improved computing experience for users, but the downside is that it can be expensive and complex to implement.

DaaS, as its name suggests, is more of a service than a technology. A cloud provider offers desktops on demand to users — all an organization needs to provide is an Internet connection and a computing device. Subscription-based DaaS can be considerably easier and less expensive for businesses to implement than VDI, at the price of giving control to the provider. Latency can also be a concern.

The following chart can help IT managers decide which type of solution may offer a better fit for their organization.

On-premises; enterprise purchases desktop virtualization software, equipment and trains IT staff Hosted service with a subscription model; vendor provides server and software
Substantial upfront costs, including software, servers and staff training Can be high for current level of service, but costs should drop once DaaS is more widely adopted
Use Cases
Organizations that wish to centralize operating system management and possibly save money by decreasing IT-related costs Temporary or seasonal workers, contractors, small organizations with straightforward setups and a variety of cloud apps, and environments with many bring-your-own-device users
  • Enterprise has complete control of user experience
  • Solid, proven technology with many reputable vendors
  • Security is completely controlled by the enterprise
  • Greater desktop customization
  • Quick implementation, especially with cookie-cutter installations
  • No infrastructure required other than network and an Internet connection
  • Security is handled by the DaaS provider
  • Cost of implementation can be prohibitive
  • Complexity causes many enterprises to back off
  • Must plan for high-capacity events (such as everyone logging in at 8:30 a.m.) or risk degraded performance
  • Because data is stored on centralized servers, users may experience latency when connecting remotely
  • Not all applications are supported or are compatible with DaaS operating system (usually Windows Server 2008 or 2012)
  • User experience may be suboptimal due to latency
  • Provider outage will bring desktops down
  • Redundant Internet connection required
Market Share / Who's Using It
1 to 5 percent; large enterprises who can afford the upfront costs and have the staff to deal with VDI’s complexity Less than 1 percent — small and medium-sized businesses. Larger enterprises are becoming increasingly interested in DaaS as a possible replacement for VDI

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