How to decide between VDI and DaaS is a question Kong Yang deals with daily in his position as senior solutions marketing manager for End-User Computing at Nutanix. Nutanix offers a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform that supports VDI solutions from Citrix and VMware, as well as two cloud-hosted DaaS offerings, Xi Frame and Nutanix InstantOn for Citrix Cloud.
The VDI or DaaS decision comes down to a company’s business objectives and requirements, which includes the state of existing IT infrastructure, current in-house VDI expertise, and security and compliance regulations, Yang said.
Start with a Simple Question
Typical conversations about whether to go with VDI or Daas, he said, start with a simple question: Where do you want to run your VDI – on-premises or in the cloud?
For companies taking a cloud-centric approach or are making a concerted effort to use public cloud services, the answer may be obvious: Go with DaaS.
Some customers turn to the cloud to get a software-as-a-service (SaaS)–like experience. The right DaaS solution would enable such organizations to deliver virtual apps like SaaS to users while enabling IT to retain access and governance control over the cloud implementation, rather than risk “rogue” cloud deployments and shadow IT. IT can then monitor virtual app and desktop consumption and ensure people are actually using the apps and resources they requested, he said.
DaaS is also a natural fit for organizations with a seasonal workforce or temporary contractors like educational institutions and public sector. Schools, for example, can employ DaaS to meet student needs during the school year while not having to pay for student seats when school is out of session.
[Related story: Desktop-as-a-Service Strengthens Teaching and Teamwork]
Deeper into DaaS
For companies without an overriding cloud-first initiative, Yang said it takes additional questions to decide on the best approach. One common factor to consider is the solution’s requirements. For instance, if the organization must use special USB devices beyond keyboards, mice, headsets, mass storage, and printers. Healthcare organizations often have smart card readers, imaging or other devices that attach to their desktops using USB and require special drivers not found in the base OS. Those USB devices usually require development work to handle the special drivers in order to be compatible with DaaS. So DaaS might be a less ideal fit in those environments, he said.
Similarly, users at financial trading firms often have more than two high-resolution monitors attached to the same desktop, which won’t likely work well in a DaaS environment, Yang said.
[Related story: Time is Right for a DaaS Uprising]
The level of IT expertise that exists in-house is also a factor. Some companies have lots of IT generalists who aren’t experienced with Citrix or VMware and don’t necessarily want to acquire it, especially if their organizations aren’t funding the cost of education and training.
“Having it managed by a third-party of experts allows them to focus on connecting their users to their apps and data; thus, meeting the business needs,” said Yang.
Yang and his team often have to educate customers about common VDI and DaaS misperceptions.
The first, as mentioned, is that most virtual applications will run well, performance-wise, on VDI or DaaS. This includes compute-intensive applications like CAD and GIS applications, Yang said.