Aug 31 2015

Feds Explore Desktop as a Service

Agencies are evaluating the potential flexibility and cost savings afforded by the technology.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has been exploring virtual desktops and will consider running Desktops as a Service over the public cloud or the military’s private cloud.

Jesse Jones, virtual desktop infrastructure program manager for DISA, says research has shown that virtual desktop infrastructure and DaaS can increase security and data protection. What’s more, the solutions often result in organizations deploying zero or thin clients, which require less maintenance and don’t require data to reside on the hardware.

“A network of zero or thin client devices allows modifications and new application deployment with greater agility, accuracy and speed,” Jones says. “VDI allows users to access information and develop documents on a wide range of devices at any location via a secure network connection, increasing productivity.”>

While DISA hasn’t yet selected a DaaS provider, the agency is evaluating the requirements and value proposition of the solution and quantifying the potential savings and strategic benefits.

The desire to reduce desktop management support and to support bring-your-own-device programs drives DaaS deployments, says John Abbott, founder and distinguished analyst for 451 Research.

> 50%

The percentage of VDI users who will be deployed on Desktop as a Service by 2019, up from less than 5% today

SOURCE: Gartner, “Desktop as a Service Must Mature in Order to Move VDI Into the Cloud,” June 10, 2015

“Agencies have legions of Windows-based applications that are not yet economically feasible to translate to native mobile/tablet graphical user interfaces or mobile applications,” Abbott explains. What’s more, the public cloud reduces the back-end infrastructure costs of delivering virtual desktops and offers operational efficiency.

Evaluating DaaS

Burton Bright, IT chief technology officer for the Marshall Space Flight Center, says NASA has initiated a few prototype DaaS pilots across the agency as a precursor to potential deployment.

Bright says the agency will assess the value and applicability of the DaaS prototypes and what the impacts would be if they implemented the technology.

“As DaaS becomes more mature, NASA will be looking to meet the requirements of our scientists and engineers, as well as provide some cost savings, mobility gains and deliver enhanced computing,” Bright adds.


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