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DaaS vs. VDI comparison highlights benefits of cloud desktops

Cloud desktops are cheaper to implement and easier to manage than a full VDI. Learn how your company might benefit from implementing DaaS.

As the number of mobile employees in the enterprise grows, it's become more important than ever for workers to have efficient access to work resources. Companies looking for a low-cost, highly scalable desktop delivery model can look to cloud desktops as an alternative to a full-fledged VDI and reap some major benefits.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is complex to pilot, deploy and manage, and it's difficult to provide a flawless user experience. But desktop as a service (DaaS) can save you from much of that trouble. It can also help keep your employees happy and productive. Keep reading to learn more about how cloud desktops can meet users' needs and make your job a little easier.

What is DaaS?

DaaS is a cloud-based desktop-delivery model where a cloud provider hosts and delivers virtual desktops to users. Rather than hosting VDI yourself -- and fronting the associated costs -- DaaS allows your company to subscribe to one of several services that will do the heavy lifting for you. DaaS customers are still responsible for managing their own desktop images, applications and security, unless desktop management services are included as a part of the subscription. For all intents and purposes, however, DaaS is a far simpler option than VDI to give employees a way to remote in.

Why should I use DaaS?

DaaS provides end users the advantages of VDI at the cost of a subscription, but with the advantages of more time, more money and less stress for you. If you're a small or medium-sized business and you want to provide employees access to virtual desktops but a VDI is cost-prohibitive, DaaS might be right for you. It might also be a good option if your user base is currently small but you expect it to expand in the future. If your organization already relies on Web-based applications, if your efforts to get VDI up and running have failed, or if you want employees to be able to work from almost anywhere on nearly any device without a lot of trouble, DaaS could help you. And you also can use DaaS if you just want some of the difficult parts of managing a VDI to be someone else's problem.

What are the benefits of DaaS vs. VDI?

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Cloud desktops are cheaper, easier to use and easier to implement than a VDI. They can save your IT department from some of the hassle that comes with VDI because the DaaS provider your company chooses will take care of resource provisioning, load balancing and network issues. And DaaS pilot programs require much less planning than VDI pilots. If your company expands or downsizes, DaaS can instantly expand or downsize with it. DaaS also circumvents the up-front costs required to set up a VDI, including any new personnel you might need to manage it.

As with VDI, users will be able to work from anywhere. But with cloud desktops, they will benefit from improved performance, even on smartphones and other devices with less powerful hardware than PCs have. As a result, devices and workers can be more efficient and productive. Unlike VDI, the costs of DaaS over time are predictable, thanks to the subscription-based model that providers use. Additionally, you aren't responsible for the time and money it takes to replace faulty hardware.

What are my DaaS options?

DaaS is becoming increasingly popular, which means many flavors are available for companies looking to hop on the DaaS train. Options include Amazon WorkSpaces, VMware Horizon DaaS, Virtual Bridges' Verde, dinCLoud, LeoStream, tuCloud and DaaS from Citrix. Citrix and VMware also both provide windows as a service through public cloud providers.

This was first published in May 2014

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