What you need to know about cloud desktops and DaaS providers

Last updated:June 2014

Editor's note

Desktop as a Service tempts IT pros with the promise of less complexity and lower costs than VDI, but the technology has some downsides as well.

The technology to bring Desktop as a Service (DaaS) to IT departments has been around for quite some time. At the most basic level, it's a virtual desktop delivery model in which desktops live in the cloud. That's a clear oversimplification, however; there's a lot more to DaaS than that. If you're considering adopting the model, there are pros and cons you should consider. Upsides to choosing DaaS over virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) include the stable costs and the ease of management. But the downsides are potential licensing complexity, application compatibility problems and more.

To get up to speed on the basics, the deep-dive data and the reasons shops compare cloud desktops and VDI, check out this guide.

1Evaluating virtual desktop delivery methods

The principle of cloud desktops has been around for more than 10 years, but it's only just begun to gain a foothold in terms of adoption. That could be because IT shops are interested in VDI but can't front the money for it, or because the cloud is just a hot-button topic these days. Either way, many people don't know the details of DaaS technology or how it compares to VDI. Start here for the basics on how it works, how it's different from VDI and why the comparisons aren't necessarily fair.

2Technical details

DaaS can be confusing. For example, did you know that some application delivery techniques are technically DaaS? And there's a big difference between hosting Windows Server images in the cloud and hosting desktops. Don't forget about the potential licensing costs and complexity that can come with DaaS -- they mean that sometimes cloud desktops won't save money over VDI. Sink your teeth into all these topics and more.

3Choosing a DaaS provider

Just like some rectangles are squares, some DaaS providers are platforms -- but not all platforms are providers, and not all providers are platforms. If that's got your head spinning, don't fret. There are ways to find the right provider and platform for you, but you'll have to take charge. Make sure you ask the right questions and negotiate a service-level agreement (SLA) that sways in your favor.