Desktop as a Service Comparison – A Guide to DaaS

Oct 4, 2021

Blog / Virtual Desktops / Desktop as a Service Comparison – A Guide to DaaS

If your business is considering enabling remote work, Bring Your Own Device or looking to easily provision, update and secure your users with DaaS or a virtual desktop you’re not alone. In fact, according to Gartner, DaaS momentum continues to build – especially in the midmarket and many businesses are looking for a desktop as a service comparison.

To help businesses think through some of the major considerations with DaaS, we’ve developed some things to considerSo, why would should listen to us? Well, Evolve IP… 

  • Has been providing DaaS solutions for over 11 years 
  • Is the largest multi-tenant VMware DaaS provider in the United States.  
  • Our solution has been named in every Gartner DaaS Market Guide since inception.  
  • We also work with Citrix and have deployed virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for clients. 
  • We have tens of thousands of users 

We have a lot of experience to pull from for this comparison. 

Today we will look at the major questions we are asked and considerations we suggest to businesses around Desktop-as-a-Service .

 

Questions to Consider When Looking at Desktop-as-a-Service Comparison 

1.What end-user 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 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 and Virtual Desktops 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 either VMware’s DaaS, Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop or Evolve IP’s Virtual Desktop product. 
  • 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: 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 route make sure you know if the service supports PCoIP, ICA or RDP and buy the appropriate thin or zero client.  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? 

11 years 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, 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.  DaaS greatly reduces your threat cross-section and allows IT to focus on protecting the DaaS 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 offboarding.   

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 offboarding 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. 

 

Benefits of Desktop as a Service

  1. Security – Quite simply, IT is looking to create a reliable, efficient and most of all secure platform due to the issues caused by increased threats and 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 DaaS, 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 – With DaaS, 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. 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, IT is able to give 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 the whole environment is updated in one shot.  
  4. Enabling Remote Workers / Mobility – Businesses know that remote work is on the rise and hiring talent that’s within driving distance is nearly impossible and very expensive. For businesses that have a remote workforce, DaaS improves 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, DaaS supports these needs securely!  

Types of Desktop as a Service: Major Desktop-as-a-Service / DaaS Solutions in the Market 

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 checks 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 DaaS 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 vendors 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 the year.  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. 

Desktop as a Service Comparison and Price

If your business is considering enabling remote work, Bring Your Own Device or looking to easily provision, update and secure your users with DaaS or a virtual desktop you’re not alone. In fact, according to GartnerDaaS momentum continues to build – especially in the midmarket. 

To help businesses think through some of the major considerations we developed a comparison guide that outlines: 

  • How projects get funded 
  • Major solution types 
  • Key questions to consider
  • A cost evaluation process
  • Thoughts on overcoming objections 

Bottom line, Evolve IP’s Virtual Desktops is the new way to make your users more productive, secure and mobile. It also makes them, and their devices, easier to manage while saving significant money over a 100% DaaS solution. Virtual Desktops will also move your legacy application boat anchors to the cloud freeing up your business to be more agile, more secure and more end-user friendly.  Ultimately, if you do fall into one of the tertiary cases above where DaaS is still a better fit, no one has been doing it longer or has more clients on a DaaS platform than Evolve IP.  Give us a call to talk about your business objectives so we can purpose-build a solution that’s exactly what you need. 

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 (the industry-wide practice) vs. 10 new Evolve IP Virtual Desktop users  

DaaS: 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 days later, without escalations, the DaaS seats are there.  Can it be done in a couple 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. 

Your essential IT ally for the enterprise hybrid workforce.

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