DaaS Providers – Compare Providers & Hosted Virtual Desktop Solutions

Jul 7, 2020

Blog / Virtual Desktops / DaaS Providers – Compare Providers & Hosted Virtual Desktop Solutions

 

DaaS providers and DaaS solutions are in high demand with employees needing to Work Anywhere.

Also referred to as Hosted Virtual Desktops (HVD), Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) technologies provide secure access to applications and files; driving productivity wherever associates are working and providing business continuity during emergencies.

Gartner’s latest DaaS Market Guide notes “DaaS has been successful for small organizations and is now being adopted by midsize and large enterprise organizations.”

Top 7 DaaS Providers (Globally) in 2020:

Evolve IP – United States
Diso – Switzerland
Anunta – India
Tehama – Canada
Kivito – Germany
Cloudalize – Belgium
Tilon – South Korea

Top 5 Hosted Virtual Desktop Platforms

Evolve IP – Virtual Desktops (Proprietary IAM / SSO integrated with Citrix, VMware)
VMware – Horizon Cloud
Citrix – Managed Desktops
Amazon – Workspaces
Microsoft – Windows Virtual Desktop

 

What is a DaaS provider and Why Should My Business Consider Desktop-as-a-service?

Why Implement DaaS?

As the top VMware multi-tenant DaaS provider in the US, Evolve IP helps enterprise and mid-market clients migrate their servers and desktops to the cloud in almost every vertical market. Over the years, we have found that the virtual desktop projects that get funded typically involve one or more of these four business outcomes.

  1. Better DaaS Security – Quite simply, IT is looking to create a reliable, efficient, and secure hosted virtual desktop platform to mitigate the issues caused by increased threats, the proliferation of remote work, and BYOD. They also want an easy way to ensure that the OS instances and varying software applications are up-to-date and secure. By using a DaaS service provider, IT is able to protect and secure resources in the cloud and not necessarily worry about the devices being used to access the cloud. Whatever is happening locally isn’t being transmitted up to the cloud instances.
  2. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity – When you partner with a DaaS provider to deliver virtual desktop solutions users are no longer dependent on physical devices to do their job. Therefore, if the office is no longer accessible due to fire, flood, even inclement weather like a snowstorm, users can grab any device and do their job.
  3. Virtual Desktop Management – Picture trying to manage and maintain hundreds or thousands of desktops across dozens of offices. What a nightmare. (Yes, this is what one of our recent customers was faced with!) By implementing DaaS solution, IT is able to give the thin client or zero client devices to their users and they simply log in to the cloud to start working anywhere, anytime. When updates and patches need to occur, and we all know that happens all of the time, IT simply makes a few clicks and updates the whole virtual desktop environment in one shot.
  4. Enabling Remote Workers / Mobility – Businesses know that remote work is on the rise and hiring the right talent, no matter where they live, is the best way to grow. For businesses that have a remote workforce, a DaaS service provider will help improve productivity instantly while also allowing office-bound workers to become mobile and leverage BYOD. Businesses can now expand their hiring reach and attract better talent. And as noted in the first section, hosted virtual desktops support these needs securely!

 

Types of Virtual Desktop (VD) Technologies

Major Hosted Virtual Desktop Solutions in the Marketplace:

XenDesktop, now known as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop, and VMware Horizon DaaS

We have grouped these two together as they are both very robust solutions and, for the most part, their selection typically comes down to brand preference as opposed to having significant differences in performance. One important note is that both can be architected in a multi-tenant environment. When we say multi-tenant, that’s not to say you are sharing the same space with other clients, it’s more like an apartment complex.

To continue the analogy, typically each customer is living on their own floor (VLAN) and the building supervisors (platform engineers), are caring for the entire building. This gives you a personal, secure, private space. To take it one step further, if Licenses and Inspections check on the buildings, top providers, like Evolve IP, ensure their apartments are certified for major compliances like HIPAA / HITRUST, PCI-DSS, etc.

VMware Horizon View – This is the enterprise version of virtual desktop technology. We note it here because there are providers building solutions on this technology. For service providers with a low number of clients, this can work. However, as the providers’ customer counts grow, you can think of this as more of a single-family home community. The maintenance crew now has 100 homes to manage instead of 1 large building. Typically, at this point, the vendor’s economies of scale dry up and there are more things that can go wrong; there are more ways to break-in, more management portals to maintain, etc. VMware Horizon View was not designed to be multi-tenant.

Azure Virtual Desktops – To be honest, there isn’t a significant track record for this solution since Azure Virtual Desktops just became Generally Available (GA) at the beginning of 2020. It is, however, utilizing RDP as a protocol. While RDP has come a long way, it does not yet compare to the performance of ICA or PCoIP and still requires a double authentication potentially frustrating to users who want a simple and immediate experience.

Amazon Workspaces – Not to be confused with Evolve IP’s Workspaces product below. This is similar to Azure in that it’s a public cloud offering. It seems to be a bit more tried and test and is a decent solution. As with Azure, the consuming organization is left in a DIY state of mind whereby the customer needs to figure out how to be in all the ancillary pieces a desktop will need like RMM, Anti-virus, etc.

Evolve IP’s Hosted Virtual Desktops (HDV)

 

VMware’s Top multi-tenant DaaS Provider in the US. Noted in Every Gartner DaaS Market Guide Since Inception

Evolve IP is the world’s premier virtual desktop provider and Cloud Service Provider (CSP). In addition to being VMware’s largest multi-tenant DaaS provider in the United States, we have relationships with Citrix and enable a unique hosted virtual desktop (HVD) that delivers more features and drives down costs of traditional DaaS solutions by 30-40%

Desktop as a Service FAQs

1. What end-user DaaS devices would you recommend?

This is perhaps the most common question we get as customers are looking to either justify a project with a lower device price point or possibly as a way of reducing the management overhead of local devices. Essentially there are 2 virtual desktop device options in this space. But before getting to that, we like to point out that the cheapest client is the one you already have.

All desktops and laptops are compatible with DaaS so using the existing infrastructure until it dies is always an option and then replace them with one of the options below.

Option 1 – A thin client which has a stripped-down OS and a browser of your choosing. These devices are great for using DaaS solutions like VMware’s Horizon DaaS, Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop or Evolve IP’s Virtual Desktops.

Option 2 – A zero client. Zero clients are slightly different in that there is no OS and the devices boot directly to the login prompt of the virtual desktop provider. For a one size fits all approach, where you’re looking to lock devices down to only a virtual desktop, this is a great solution.

It’s important to note that zero clients sometimes do not support peripherals like check scanners, printers, and other USB devices.

Note: Note: Zero clients are not a solution for Evolve IP’s Virtual Desktop product as it is built on the notion that users should start with a browser (due to having a majority of SaaS applications) instead of forcing them into a virtual desktop OS. Finally, there are different flavors of these clients and it can be VERY confusing. Some are VMware and Citrix certified, some aren’t.

If you are going the DaaS solution route make sure you know if the service supports PCoIP, ICA, or RDP and buy the appropriate thin or zero clients. Or, give us a ring and we’ll assist you with the selection.

2. How do you want to handle legacy applications on internal servers?

A decade ago, most, if not all, applications were hosted on internal servers. This architecture meant a desktop was needed as the client to get to legacy applications housed in the business’s data center. For a customer wanting to offload their infrastructure to the cloud, the obvious choice was to move their servers to a cloud service provider’s (CSP) data center. The CSP would host desktops back to the customer to solve for the latency that had just been created.

Technically, a SaaS-like experience was created in that the customer was able to get to their virtual desktop from any device. But they still had to jump into that virtual desktop to get to their legacy applications. Due to the explosion of SaaS, most workforces are now only using one or two legacy applications. Unfortunately, the DaaS provider industry is still trying to solve these applications by giving everyone a virtual desktop. Simply put, that’s a waste of money and resources, but most importantly what an annoying way to do your job!

Evolve IP is breaking the DaaS industry mold. With Virtual Desktops, we are able to publish legacy applications to the user and provide them in a tile-based SSO fashion. This makes legacy applications look, act, and feel like a SaaS application to the user on whichever device they are using.

3. How does your business handle security?

Security is a huge concern these days. Every week it seems a new malware or ransomware attack floods the chat rooms and airwaves. A DaaS provider’s security greatly reduces your threat cross-section and allows IT to focus on protecting the hosted virtual desktop instances in the cloud while client devices cannot transmit infections into the environment.

With the explosion of SaaS, one particular area of concern however is an increase in users that are not accessing legacy applications and simply logging directly into SaaS applications. This does present security risks along with creating the arduous process for IT of trying to figure out what applications a user needs or has gained access to over their tenure and then disabling all those applications one by one during onboarding.

With Virtual Desktops, you can still provide a virtual desktop to those users that need them. But you can also provide a secure, centrally managed way for users that only need SaaS applications to just go directly to those applications. But, in an onboarding event, all access to SaaS applications that have been integrated into the Clearlogin portal is immediately zapped. This provides a much more encompassing way of managing user access to legacy as well as SaaS applications and securing the Enterprise

4. How dependent do you want to be on your provider for provisioning?

DaaS provisioning is very … let’s just say, manual. And that goes for Evolve IP and every other competitor in the market. Whether it’s actual provisioning or billing adjustments it’s a manual process. This is due to the fact that VMware and Citrix simply have not focused on orchestration in the multi-tenant space.

Luckily, in 2017 Evolve IP acquired a company that had perfected a backend provisioning system, and that engine now drives the provisioning portal for Virtual Desktops.

Here’s an illustration of adding 10 new desktops to DaaS solutions (the industry-wide practice) vs. 10 new Evolve IP Workspaces users

DaaS Solution: The customer tells their Account Manager (AM) they need 10 more desktops. The AM sends a quote for 10 more users. The customer signs the quote and the AM passes this on to provisioning and a couple of days later, without escalations, the DaaS seats are there. Can it be done in a couple of hours in a pinch? Sure, and we have many times. But the default process noted here is typical.

Virtual Desktops: IT logs into their portal and creates 10 users, along with their security permissions and applications access, instantly. Resources for pushing out legacy applications or entire desktops are provisioned in minutes. The portal then reaches out to Office 365 and provisions their licenses … on the fly. Charges are automatically added to their monthly billing. Oh, and should you need to eliminate users, the same is true in reverse to deprovision.

Net-net, IT can add users, on their own, in a matter of minutes not days. Larger changes may require account management but for the most part, capacity planning can be done at your leisure instead of while under the gun to make a small change.

5. What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?

Of course, now that you’re seeing the value of Virtual Desktops, we talk about price, right? Well in this comparison paper, it’s the equivalent of a mic drop! Why? It might have been some twisted joke from our Product team, but in this case, better is significantly cheaper.

Looking at hosted virtual desktop providers, for almost every provider the pricing model is the same. You buy a seat, then you outfit the seat with the ancillary parts and pieces needed to actually make the desktop work. The typical seat itemization would include:

  1. RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) – this is a tool used to manage desktops. In our case, we use N-Able. However, we also allow customers to bring their own solutions to the table and re-use them in our cloud.
  2. Anti-Virus – In today’s environment you had better protect those devices. We utilize Trend AV or allow our customers to bring their own solutions.
  3. Operating System – Pretty straightforward. Again, if customers have their own Office 365 OS they can bring that along.
  4. Patching – This is not a requirement, but more and more clients are asking us to apply Windows, 3rd party and AV patches/updates. We think this is great move because there is ZERO value to the business handling this exercise and you are paying an IT professional WAY too much for such a mundane chore. Not to mention we’ve never found anyone in IT that wakes up thinking, “I can’t wait to patch my desktops today.” (If this is you, put down the whitepaper and call someone for help!)
  5. So, how does a typical DaaS solution compare to Virtual Desktops?

 

Interested in a Demo?

Contact us today to schedule your demo and see for yourself why Evolve IP Virtual Desktops as a DaaS provider is a far superior solution.

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