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How to Be Successful with Desktop-as-a-Service part 1

By Ruben Spruijt

In my previous blog, I shared my thoughts about how to choose between VDI and DaaS. For the purposes of this blog, let’s assume that you’ve evaluated your needs and circumstances and decided to move forward with DaaS. 

I wish I could tell you that your work is done, but the truth is that there are a variety of DaaS offerings, ranging from major cloud vendors such as Amazon, Citrix, Microsoft, Nutanix and VMware to global, regional, and local managed service providers.

Desktop-as-a-Service means different things to different people, so it is important to understand what each potential provider offers and who is responsible for managing what. And it’s essential to identify your use cases, connect with your business owners, and determine the DaaS capabilities that matter most to your company in order to make an educated choice.

In the next two blogs, I’ll look at factors that contribute to DaaS success. I’m purposely not focusing on things like SLAs, HA and recoverability, monitoring, backup, etc. These are things that most teams already know are important.

This blog covers: 

  • Use cases

  • Apps and data

  • Networking

The next blog will look at identity management and security; endpoint devices; workspace and application management; and company culture.

What Is Your Use Case?

Your DaaS journey should start with a careful consideration of use cases. The use case determines the requirements for your DaaS solution. Start with why, how, and what, then choose a DaaS solution that addresses those requirements.

Here are some examples of different use cases:

  • ISVs that want to “SaaS-ify” classic Windows applications. Example applications include: client/server accounting applications, resource-intensive graphics applications, and applications built in Java, Silverlight, or Flash. Choose a DaaS solution that can accommodate unique application requirements and seasonality in your business. Make sure a provider can reach users globally. APIs may be important for integrating SaaS applications into customer workflows and automating platform setup, deployment, management, and monitoring.

  • Organizations that need to deliver secure workspaces. DaaS can ensure that no data is stored on the endpoint and that the virtual workspace is always pristine.

  • Education institutions that want to deliver applications via a browser. This can include delivery of resource-intensive and exam-taking applications to both managed and unmanaged devices. Demand is usually highly seasonal and cost control is important.

  • Architecture, engineering, design, and media and entertainment companies. These companies often want to deliver applications and desktops using a combination of public cloud and on-premises resources. The applications should run close to the data and may also need to support follow-the-sun operations for global companies. A DaaS solution should enable contractors to be supported without the need for local data.

  • Businesses that need cost-effective, easy-to-manage, secure workspaces with Office and business productivity applications. DaaS is a great way to support “standard” worker needs. Make sure chosen providers can support your needs for managed devices, thin clients, and employee-owned devices.

  • Organizations adopting a “Google” strategy. Many organizations want to leverage Chromebooks, ChromeOS, Google Apps, and other public cloud services to the greatest extent possible. However, there are often Windows applications that are still needed. The right Daas solution can make it easy to integrate these applications natively into the Google ecosystem, enabling them to run inside the Chrome browser.

Where Are Your Apps and Data?

Once you’ve understood your use case(s),  the next important question to ask is, “Where will I run my apps in relation to the data those apps need?” You’ll deliver the best user experience by bringing apps and data close together. If data is stored in an on-premises datacenter or a co-location facility, you’ll deliver the best experience by running your virtual desktops and apps there too. If the data is stored in a public cloud, run your applications in the cloud.

A DaaS solution that readily satisfies your data availability and data access requirements will support more use cases. It’s important to consider your requirements for access to database services, web services, object-based storage, file services, and cloud-based storage such as OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. It's all about the data. 

Networking 

DaaS has great advantages when you want to deliver applications and desktops across multiple sites, multiple regions, or as a global deployment. However, it’s important to consider how each location—whether you have one or one hundred—will connect to your DaaS solution. It’s also important to know how your end-users connect to your operations, because it is increasingly common for people to work from all over. Here are some questions you may need to consider:

  • How does the application perform when higher network latency is introduced, or when the application and data aren’t close together?

  • Do all sites have reliable network connections with enough bandwidth to prevent bottlenecks? 

  • Has Quality of Service (QoS) been implemented? 

  • Does the DaaS vendor’s remote display protocol work well in LAN, WAN, and mobile scenarios? What is the user experience in each scenario? Don’t focus on network metrics only, look at the actual user experience.

  • What is the latency between the endpoint device and the DaaS provider? Are different operating regions available? What is the network flow from endpoint to DaaS solution?

  • Will your existing networking technology work with the DaaS deployment?

Greater distance means greater network latency which has a direct impact on user experience. If you choose a service that’s only hosted in one or a few locations, users who are far away from those locations may be a lot less happy with the performance they see than those who are closer. The flexibility to utilize multiple public cloud providers and/or on-premises datacenters can provide significant value for distributed operations.

For example, a service that runs only in public clouds—even though it is available across many regions—may not be accessible to everyone, or resources in some regions may be limited or nonexistent. The ability to support on-premises infrastructure is a great advantage and may be a requirement in some cases. 

Summary

In this blog I’ve tried to outline some of the use-case, application/data, and networking considerations that will help you choose the best DaaS solution for your organization. In Part 2, I’ll examine security, management, endpoint devices, and company culture.

Blogs in This Series

  • VDWhy? 

  • VDI Challenges and How to Solve Them

  • How Nutanix Solves the Top VDI Deployment Challenges

  • What Is DaaS and Why Should You Care? 

  • VDI versus DaaS: How Do You Choose? 

  • How to Ensure DaaS Success: Part 1 (this blog)

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