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Compare desktop virtualization options: DaaS vs. VDI

The battle for desktop virtualization domination is on. DaaS is able to pack a punch at VDI with cost benefits, cloud services and more flexibility.

Many know the famous quote from Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility." Though IT admins probably haven't been bitten by radioactive spiders, they do have a lot of power when it comes to setting their companies up for success.

The working world is demanding to be cut loose from the web of their desks, instead relying on the capabilities of remote access. To provide these capabilities, IT has seen desktop virtualization options grow more prevalent. Desktop virtualization allows IT to deploy a hosted operating system to remote clients. There are multiple ways to implement virtual desktops, including VDI and desktop as a service (DaaS). 

What is VDI?

DaaS offers companies the opportunity to have VDI capabilities, while maintaining a subscription-based price.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) virtualizes a host desktop operating system onto a central server that can display to a remote device. VDI allows users to access full desktop capabilities on thinner machines, as most of the processing and computing happens on the back end. This is cost effective for companies that have a large employee base. Since the technology is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, however, the sticker price is on the higher side.

VDI also requires a sturdy support system of IT professionals who are willing and able to develop and customize desktops, as well as maintain efficiency with deploying updates and managing data traffic. Network connectivity is also something to keep in mind with VDI. Without a strong connection, VDI goes to a crawl, cutting into valuable work time.

What is DaaS?

DaaS is similar to VDI, in that it also deploys an operating system from a hosted desktop to a remote device. DaaS differs from VDI because instead of hosting desktops in an on-premises data center, DaaS uses a cloud-based back end from a third-party provider.

DaaS offers companies the opportunity to have VDI capabilities, while maintaining a subscription-based price. DaaS also has an easier method of deployment, as it is not necessary to build desktops in house. DaaS vendors handle connectivity and any issues, while IT can still maintain a role as the administrator over user accounts.

When to use which desktop virtualization options?

So how can IT settle the DaaS vs. VDI debate? VDI is the winner when it comes to security and control. For companies that have the money, time and resources to put into a full VDI deployment, it is a good method among desktop virtualization options.

IT has to overcome several obstacles to ensure a well-oiled VDI deployment. One of the most common hurdles is to justify a company's investment in virtualized computing.

DaaS is appealing as more businesses head toward the cloud. The cloud offers flexibility in terms of development, user access and IT maintenance. DaaS does not require a huge cost investment at the start, which is a good fit for a smaller business, or one testing out virtualization. If a company is not sure of the scale it desires, DaaS can adjust to fluctuation in virtual desktop numbers, where VDI would require reworking to do so.

The DaaS senses are tingling

Each industry has its own set of security and compliance regulations to follow. Since DaaS is packaged by a provider, it can be difficult to find an offering that fits a business perfectly. The only way to know for certain that everything is up to code is if the DaaS provider allows IT to check compliance measures. In addition, if the provider gives IT control over the hypervisors' configurations, there is more opportunity for IT to customize features.

DaaS solves difficulties of data storage, cost concerns and location dependency problems using the cloud. The cloud is a double-edged sword, though, because it can also provide a security vulnerability. IT must put full faith into the hands of the DaaS provider to maintain security. On the other hand, VDI security is often constructed upon older infrastructures that do not have layers to protect against online attacks. DaaS providers are very aware of the multiple assaults that can happen, and are able to target and eliminate a threat once it is identified.

Next Steps

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This was last published in February 2017

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