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Defining DaaS: Desktop-as-a-Service

By Harold Bell

A new level of confusion hit the tech world when cloud computing became practical in the enterprise and the term “XaaS” was coined. XaaS, or anything-as-a-service, was used to describe the seemingly endless list of digital services that can be delivered via the cloud. Initially it wasn’t the most intuitive acronym for non-engineers. Fast forward 20 years since the creation of Salesforce.com, the first enterprise-grade software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, and the market is now saturated with the “as-a-service” business model. From social media to online banking, applications in the cloud dominate the way people across the globe learn, work, and collaborate.

Double-clicking down to the business environment, cloud computing permits a company to operate in an elastic fashion. Used to test new software in the beginning, cloud computing has proven to be a lot more than just a testing environment today. It allows for “infinite” on-demand resources and provides the ability to pay for resources on an as-needed basis. Making it more tangible for you, think about your procurement process at work. You or someone in your operations department likely facilitates your requests for new computers, software, peripherals, office equipment, or professional services through a portal delivered from the cloud. Your marketing department manages lead generation, editorial calendars, and file sharing through cloud platforms. The list goes on for the rest of your internal functions. Sales? Of course. HR? Yes. Accounting? Absolutely. One of the key examples of this new-found utility exists in not only consuming cloud applications, but in deploying them.

Enter VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure. One of today’s most popular forms of desktop virtualization, enterprises deploy VDI solutions as a better way to manage, control, and secure their end-user computing environments. VDI also enables downsizing investments in personal computers and other hardware for thousands of employees. By decoupling and virtualizing the operating system, user profiles, and applications from the hardware, corporations save on management and can use what are essentially “dumb” physical computing assets. Hence the birth of thin clients and other budget-friendly devices that facilitate interaction with powerful virtual systems. Granted laptops and PCs can also use virtual desktop environments, but even these use cases have savings opportunities built-in. With the BYOD era roaring in parallel, corporations have enjoyed additional savings with employees using their own devices whether in the office or on the go. And given the barebones capabilities of a thin client, older PCs can also be used as a conduit to accessing virtual desktops. This rise of virtualization truly manifested the desire for employees to stay productive when they’re not in the office. At every angle, VDI presents value and can be a viable solution for virtual enterprise workspaces.

Despite the undeniable business agility furnished by VDI, there are some notable limitations when deployed in dynamic environments. For example, if your organization recently acquired another company, you’re likely looking to on-board folks relatively quickly. Or maybe you have a temporary arrangement, in which seasonal contractors are required to utilize your organization’s apps. In either scenario, VDI isn’t the best option when it comes to getting new staff in the saddle quickly. Not to mention, IT resources are already tight, and adding new users only adds to stress and increases the likelihood of error. Especially when you consider certified VDI/EUC professionals are even more specialized than network operators.

Desktop-as-a-Service, or DaaS, provides all the agility and scale of a VDI deployment – but with considerable speed. The “any device” factor plays a major role in the evolution of DaaS, users only need an online connection to access their desktops and relevant apps. This means Macs, PCs, smart phones, tablets and any device with a browser is all that’s needed to access corporate applications. Users don’t even need to install any software or download plugins. You can buy the most suitable device for users’ requirements and steer clear of expensive workstations and support expenses. The most beautiful aspect of DaaS is that you never pay for systems you’re not using. When you are finished with the server, you may turn it off and no longer pay for that server till you require it again. These benefits transcend to other areas of society like government, education, science and engineering to provide new ways to drive productivity and maximize resources.

One important thing to note here, all is not lost if you have VDI already deployed. The two actually compliment each other. Some folks even prefer it as there is tremendous value to having DaaS overlay your VDI deployment. As one example, DaaS allows you to modernize legacy apps with zero code refactoring. Most but not all legacy Windows app perform well in a DaaS environment. This can be due to latency or a hardware requirement for operation. By having both an on-prem and cloud-hosted option, you receive a high-quality user experience that is secure.

Ultimately, workspace virtualization solutions aid in the speedy and quick transition of the standard desktop computing environment. DaaS solutions clearly offer a unique value proposition by providing the most agile virtual desktop environments. DaaS can alleviate traditional burdens while allowing businesses to make the most of the benefits of virtual desktops. Regardless if this blog is one of your first DaaS touch-points or not, there is still always more to learn. With that said, we’ve developed a Definitive Guide to Desktop-as-a-Service – a comprehensive body of work bringing you up to speed on how to evaluate solutions, deployment scenarios, the procurement process, and resource utilization.

© 2019 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. Nutanix, the Nutanix logo and the other Nutanix products and features mentioned herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nutanix, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder(s).

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