Although desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) pricing models are very similar at the basic level across all vendors, there are differences in how businesses choose to build their overall DaaS infrastructure and strategy. The choices prospective purchasers make can significantly impact the total cost of ownership for an organization. Here are some factors to consider and things to look for when evaluating potential DaaS solution pricing.
Understand Your Goals and Usage
Perhaps the most important element for businesses to consider is how your employees, contractors, customers, and partners will really use your desktop solution. Although it can be easier to simply sign a blanket subscription contract based solely on the number of users and provide complete access to everyone in an effort to “cover all your bases,” this can result in a purchase of unneeded services and a waste of valuable resources.
Before even reviewing DaaS pricing models, take a step back and evaluate how many users require full access as well as how many may need only occasional or very limited access. The misstep that we see most often is prospective customers who take a technology-centric approach to designing their solution; where we see the highest amount of success is in taking a use-case-centric approach focused on understanding the ‘who,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ your users will leverage a desktop solution. Who are my people? What do they do? How do they work? These questions will guide you into an approach that directs those premium services to only where they are truly needed and can provide the highest return on investment. Once that initial exploration and planning is complete, it’s time to consider the different aspects of pricing models for DaaS, which may range anywhere from $40 to $250 per user.
Persistent vs. Non-Persistent Desktops
In general, persistent desktops will be more expensive than non-persistent ones. Commonly, we tend to associate persistent desktops (or desktops that continue to exist whether in-use or not) with a dedicated desktop model where each user has a desktop that is theirs and theirs alone. Non-persistent desktops (which are created when used and then destroyed when no longer needed) tend to be used in more of a shared or concurrency-based model. While there are occasions in which persistent desktops may be shared and non-persistent desktops may be dedicated, for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll consider those outliers and focus on the more common usage scenario.
Persistent desktops are more costly because each one requires continuously committed resources that keep the desktop running. Settings are centrally saved and accessed at every login. For one-to-one ratios, persistent desktops work well because users can personalize their interface, which will be consistent regardless of the workstation or device used. All data, files, and shortcuts are connected to an individual login. Also, depending on security settings, persistent desktops give users the advantage of being able to leave and rejoin their session in progress across different devices and at different points in time.
Although persistent desktops have essentially the same structure as physical desktops, making it easier for the IT department to convert to DaaS on a one-to-one ratio, this solution may require additional storage and backup protocols that are not needed in a non-persistent set-up. In a persistent desktop environment, IT admins get the best of both worlds. They can enjoy a traditional desktop experience, with the ability to perform administrative functions such as patch distribution and antivirus definitions updates, like they would on an actual hardware device, but they can also leverage the flexibility of a DaaS solution.
Non-persistent desktops, on the other hand, use a master image that includes only essential data and applications. The IT staff can update or alter that master image, conduct backups rapidly, and deploy new applications and software with a single set of keystrokes, bringing all users of that non-persistent desktop up to speed quickly and easily. If hacking occurs, a simple reboot can solve the breach. Finally, temporary user-specific settings and data can be isolated from the desktop seat and stored elsewhere on low-cost storage as part of the overall solution.
When individual users log in, they can change their settings and customizations, which are then stored temporarily in a separate layer and delivered during that individual session. After users sign out, the virtual desktop is destroyed, and upon the next login is re-deployed back from the initial, un-customized image.
If groups of users require sets of applications or software, additional layers can be created that can be more personalized, yet not reside on the master image. This effort can grow complicated with multiple special situations.
Unlimited vs. Metered Session Length
The second component that affects DaaS fees is the length of time that employees, contractors, or other users must access a system per month. Most vendors offer a choice of metered length where companies pay for what they use, or unlimited, which is a simple flat fee per month for any number or hours of sessions.
Making the decision on this factor goes back to understanding who and how your solution is being used. While unlimited subscriptions offer the benefits of a fixed, predictable cost and no worries about employees exceeding expected sessions or time, metered pricing options can, in some cases, be advantageous.
Consumption-based fees allow companies to pay for only what they need and can often be tailored to specific activities that will offer the greatest value. In addition, this DaaS pricing model can work well for companies that may need to scale up or down due to peak or seasonal business. Unlimited models typically tie an organization to a contract and may need to be renegotiated if the number of desktops or time must be increased. Businesses can ramp up quickly and on a trial basis without a large upfront investment in a metered plan.
Finally, be sure to consider the hidden costs that are common with subscription-based models such as implementation and onboarding programs, as well as extra costs for additional features.
Extra Features Mean Higher Costs
Depending on the nature of the business, some organizations may opt for extra features on their DaaS. Here are some of the most common add-ons that will likely boost the total cost of ownership:
- Customization. The more control desired to select applications and software for virtual desktops, the higher the cost.
- Technical Support. Most vendors offer a tiered amount of technical support from barebones FAQ assistance to 24/7 worldwide expert support.
- Storage and Backup. Basic pricing packages will always include some level of backup and storage. However, companies that pay a premium can enjoy a larger amount of storage as well as redundancy, which can greatly improve the chances of recovery if cybercrime occurs.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.
- While backup provides survivability of your data, many businesses want to also ensure that desktop availability can remain continuous even in the event of a large, regional service outage.
- Security. Businesses may have the option to select from different levels of security features including antivirus and malware protection.
- Remote Management. Companies may opt for remote monitoring services or allow their users to bring their own devices to connect to the organization’s cloud-based system.
- Maintenance and Patching. If companies desire more of a one-stop-shop, they may be able to pay for Windows or other third-party updates and patches through the DaaS pricing package.
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