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Planning an enterprise desktop-as-a-service deployment is not a simple task, and IT professionals must first confirm that these cloud-hosted desktops are the right choice for their organization.
Once IT pros pick desktop as a service (DaaS), there are several factors to think about in preparation for the move, including which DaaS provider to use and some common issues to keep an eye on.
Even the slightest hiccup in an enterprise DaaS deployment could suck up money, time and resources. IT pros that stay one step ahead can make the transition to cloud desktops easy on users to maintain productivity.
Weighing DaaS vs. VDI
At first glance DaaS and VDI look similar, but they offer organizations different options when deploying virtual desktops. Both methods work by hosting a desktop OS on a central server that sends the display to a user's endpoint device. With both DaaS and VDI, the back-end infrastructure takes care of the computing heavy lifting, allowing users to work with thin clients to access their desktops. Whether an organization chooses VDI or DaaS, IT management is crucial to make sure the deployment runs smoothly and that the devices are secure.
The difference between DaaS and VDI is that VDI virtualizes the desktops and handles data storage on premises, while DaaS hands off the back-end service to a third-party provider. This comes with pros and cons for organizations and IT pros. On one hand, DaaS eliminates upfront infrastructure costs because the provider has that in place already. And DaaS gives more flexibility on the number of users because IT can simply pay for more desktops rather than having to scale out in-house infrastructure. On the other hand, using a cloud back end also takes away some control and customization opportunities from IT. Plus, IT can only control what comes and goes on the company network, but once it is transferred to the cloud, it is in the third-party's domain for security.
Considerations before a move to DaaS
IT must look at the ways DaaS will integrate into its existing systems, how to manage the desktops and what the user experience will be. DaaS must fit in with current management products, directory services and more in the existing IT infrastructure to make a good fit. The DaaS provider should set IT up for successful systems management, without forcing administrators to configure the hypervisors or host servers. With many providers, IT still has to handle updates, custom images and applications for the desktops.
A major key to planning an enterprise DaaS deployment is knowing the users. IT must understand which employees are using the virtual desktops, what kind of work they do, when the peak workload times are, where they access desktops from and what users need access to. This will help IT determine if persistent or nonpersistent desktop virtualization is best, and what kind of DaaS provider to look for. The right DaaS provider will be able to focus in on an organization's needs, such as high concurrent user volumes or providing desktop access to users on weak networks.
Prove your understanding of DaaS vs. VDI
Companies stuck contemplating Daas vs. VDI -- or deploying both -- should know all the facts first. Test your knowledge about the two delivery methods with this quiz.
Enterprise DaaS providers on the market
IT pros have to collaborate with the enterprise DaaS vendor to cover security and compliance, as well as scaling and data storage. There are basic capabilities -- including remote desktop connectivity and user account configuration -- that most DaaS offerings have, such as Amazon WorkSpaces. The fewer features a DaaS provider includes, the less expensive the service will be. If organizations have more money to spend on DaaS, then IT should look into dedicated services. Dedicated services are fully managed desktops that providers customize to an organization's wants and needs, such as custom hypervisors or more desktop control. The dedicated DaaS provider may also control the security and compliance for an organization, which can get particularly tricky for DaaS.
Organizations that do not want to select a high-priced DaaS provider may chose a more general one that controls the back end only. DaaS works on a subscription basis, so even if a company starts with the most basic offerings, they often have the option to upgrade. For instance, there is the Tier 1 offering from VMware Horizon DaaS for $35 per month for one virtual CPU (vCPU), two GB RAM and 30 GB storage. Organizations have the choice to upgrade to Tier 2 for $50 per month for two vCPU, four GB RAM and 30 GB storage, if needed. IT should note when selecting a DaaS provider whether the licensing is included in the cost or an added expense.
See DaaS problems before they happen
The two biggest issues organizations run into with DaaS are licensing and compliance. Licensing gets complicated because virtual desktops have their own set of rules for most vendors. Compliance and regulatory standards can also trip up IT, because they change depending on the industry. IT should make sure the DaaS provider it selects allows it to check that compliance is up to code.
Another issue that comes up often is security. The third-party cloud provider often handles its own security once data is stored there. This means that an intrusion in the cloud could affect corporate files and data. There are some DaaS providers that will work with organizations so IT can have tighter control over this, but sometimes it is out of their hands.