Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is the delivery of a fully managed virtual desktop instance (VDI), hosted on cloud infrastructure. DaaS enables users to access corporate applications and data via a familiar Microsoft Windows desktop experience on almost any device connected to the internet.
Not only does this provide an end-user experience fitting for the modern workplace, DaaS also has a range of benefits to technology teams including improved security, disaster recovery, easy management of software updates, reduces support overheads and simplified provisioning.
As you may well know, this is not a new concept. As far back as 2005, some application service providers were trying to deliver a commoditised remote desktop experience from data centres. These early adopters recognised the requirement for anywhere, any device access to applications that traditionally lived on a fixed desktop. They saw local data was a security and compliance risk while version control and patch management was cumbersome at best, often left unmanaged. These early solutions relied on Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS), known as Terminal Services in Windows Server 2008 and earlier, and were built on dedicated hardware for each customer.
Industry analysts such as Gartner predicted that DaaS would become a common desktop delivery method by 2012. However, limitations of the technology and bandwidth led to a poor user experience, which providers mitigated to some degree by utilising Citrix. As the internet blossomed into a world of video and rich media, the DaaS user experience lagged some 18-24 months behind.
It wasn’t just the user experience that hampered large-scale adoption of DaaS. Although today the cloud will seem an obvious choice, there was widespread reluctance to move corporate data onto cloud infrastructure in the early days of hosted desktops. This was back when AWS offered little more than cloud storage and Azure was yet to be released.
The financial crash of 2008 lead to a prolonged period of companies halting technology spend. By the time the purse strings loosened, the cloud revolution had moved on and people felt that lots of the issues that DaaS could resolve would be dealt with by moving the infrastructure to the cloud.
However, fifteen years later the problems associated with desktop computing persist in many companies, they haven’t all been easily addressed by the cloud. While users may access many of their applications online, they still download spreadsheets and slide decks onto local machines; neglect to bring their machines into IT for updates; run unapproved programs... and now this extends to their own devices as well as company-owned ones.
The modern workplace requires agility, leading to many companies embracing mobile working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies against a backdrop of increased concern about security risk, compliance requirements and the ever-present need to reduce overheads. This is why, over a decade after analysts predicted the rise of DaaS, it is now finally being taken up in volume.
By adopting Desktop as a Service, companies can address the issues associated with end-user computing while giving their staff more freedom and increasing productivity. The pain associated with managing a multitude of devices, including those not supplied by the company, is eliminated. While remaining compliant, companies can greatly reduce risks.
Cloudhelix’s DaaS solution provides all this, including a fully managed infrastructure stack to support it, so that you and your users can just focus on the task at hand while enjoying a secure and stable experience, no matter where you are and what device you use.
We have selected VMware Horizon as the technology to deliver DaaS as it guarantees the best user experience. After all, if you are going to roll this out to your staff, you want them to have a noticeably better experience than they have currently.
Many organisations are undergoing digital transformation, and modernising the workplace is often a stream within the wider strategy. In order to manage remote and multi-device workforces using DAAS, you should think about the following seven benefits and how this will change, and hopefully improve, your currently way of working.
Digital transformation is redefining what we think about the workplace. At the heart of this evolution is technology and the introduction of digital-first natives into the workplace.
The millennial is no longer the office junior but is now the manager. By 2020, the millennial employee (those born between 1981 and 1996) is forecasted to comprise half of the global workforce, and by 2025, they will make up 75 per cent of it.
Millennials expect workplace technology to work as good as or better than their own devices. They are comfortable with technology and count on their employers to provide them with the tools they need to do their job. Allowing staff to work remotely and via their own devices is a surefire way to attract and retain the best talent.
As with many cloud initiatives, DaaS moves costs from CAPEX to OPEX, leaving you more cash in the bank to spend on growing your business. Per desktop pricing enables you to know exactly what workforce expansion will cost the IT department, removing unforeseen infrastructure or hardware purchases as this is handled by the provider, who bundle everything in with the price of each desktop.
Virtual machines use the compute power of the data centre rather than their local machines, placing less demand on the endpoint. This means that, by using fast virtual desktops, you can extend your organisation’s desktop and laptop refresh cycle, offering a secondary means of reducing costs by keeping endpoints in action for longer. Users who are entirely office-based can be switched onto low maintenance zero clients (also known as thin clients) which have no local OS or storage. You can even go as far as bringing in a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, where staff are expected to use personal hardware to access corporate resources, which is particularly useful if your organisation promotes remotes working.
Due to the ‘...as a service’ delivery model, DAAS enables you to add user workstations fast and easily. This is particularly handy when your organisation utilises contract resource or temporary project teams, as there’s no hardware to procure, meaning you have the flexibility to create a desktop almost instantly and delete it when no longer required. This also puts you in control.
DaaS helps you manage the risks that naturally come with giving your staff the freedom to work anywhere and on any device. It enables you to control the essentials such as data access and compliance without being overly restrictive. You no longer have to worry about what data is held on a user’s device as the data remains in the data centre at all times. This gives you control over all company assets because access can be revoked with the touch of a button.
With an increasingly dispersed workforce, rolling out new applications or patching existing software has become more of a logistical problem than a technical one. Trying to coordinate people bringing in physical devices to be patched is a real issue for many companies, something which is eliminated completely with DaaS. You operate on one central image (or a small number of images based on persona), a change is made once, and everyone is on the latest version. It removes the need to standardise builds of end-user compute hardware as DaaS will run on almost any device no matter its configuration.
DaaS moves the security risk from hundreds of end-user devices and put it all into the controlled and managed environment of a data centre. Lost or stolen laptops no longer provide a security risk. No data is on the local machine. As DaaS removes the need to create VPNs to access applications and data held by the company it also removes the problem of users trying to bypass the security in the belief that it will make their life easier.
DAAS from Cloudhelix uses VMware’s enterprise-grade solution, VMware Horizon DaaS, while all of the infrastructure is handled by our fully managed shared cloud platform. This is the same platform used by our clients, who utilise Cloudhelix for our unrivalled performance, to host mission-critical applications and storage-intensive workloads.
If you’re looking to deliver hosted desktops, you need to be confident in the platform that underpins it, and ours offers a robust, scalable and secure environment to delivery premium desktop experiences globally.
If you’re happy with DaaS as a solution for your organisation then it’s time to experience our platform for yourself. Start a free trial today. If you’re interested to learn more about DaaS and how it could make a difference in your organisation then get in touch to speak to our team. We’re happy to hear about your business objectives and explore how DaaS could be best applied to your business.