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As SaaS outsourcing takes away data center tasks, what's left for IT teams?


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Cloud scalability and price points give DaaS a leg up

With new offerings from Amazon and VMware, Desktop as a Service may turn out to be the sweet spot for VDI technology.

New offerings from major vendors -- with pretty low price points -- plus the benefits of cloud scalability and performance, make Desktop as a Service (DaaS) more viable than ever.

Customers can tiptoe their way into a new technology without having to make a huge capital investment.

Think of DaaS like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that you pay for as a service from someone else. So traditional VDI means you build a bunch of servers in your own data center to host desktop VMs that your users access remotely. With DaaS, you don't build anything -- you just pay some provider for your users to access their desktops in the provider's cloud.

From a technology standpoint, VDI and DaaS are exactly the same thing. The only difference is where the servers live and how you pay for them.

The proof is in the pudding

So why do we think 2014 will be the year of DaaS? There are a few reasons.

First, back in October, VMware bought Desktone, one of the world's most prominent DaaS providers. This deal came as a surprise to many people, as previously VMware only sold build-it-yourself VDI software. But as VMware works to transition their entire business from on-premises software to cloud-based platforms, it makes sense that this transition would include desktops too. And buying Desktone gives VMware a foothold in the DaaS market, especially since VMware has the ear of the majority of CIOs on the planet.

Shortly after that announcement, we learned that Amazon is also getting into the DaaS business with a forthcoming (currently in beta) offering called Amazon WorkSpaces. The WorkSpaces solution was built internally by Amazon (though they licensed the PC-over-IP remote display protocol from Teradici -- the same protocol VMware uses for VDI, actually), and Amazon has a stellar reputation of being able to deliver cloud-based services that customers trust.

What's amazing about Amazon's DaaS offering is the price point. Amazon is offering a fully persistent personal Windows desktop VM with 4 GB of RAM for $35 per month, per user. At that price their offering is cheaper than what most people can build on their own internally. (Read that again to understand the gravity of it: Amazon can sell you a virtual desktop and still make money on it for an amount that's lower than you can build and operate a desktop yourself.)

Not to be outdone, Citrix started hitting the marketing waves hard with DaaS this year, and Microsoft is rumored to be working on its own offering.

All of these DaaS offerings share the advantages of any Software as a Service or cloud-based product, including cloud scalability and performance. Customers can tiptoe their way into a new technology without having to make a huge capital investment, they can scale up and scale down instantly, and they can enjoy high levels of service and performance that are not available to customers who build things on their own.

Based on all this, we can say with a high level of certainty that DaaS is now a real option where it wasn't before. The bottom line is that in 2014, if you're considering VDI, you have serious options regarding whether you want to build it yourself or just pay for your desktops as a service.

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Insightful as always Brian, thank you. On a closely related topic, I would love to hear your thoughts on Microsoft licensing compliance as it applies to DaaS providers using desktop operating systems within their DaaS offerings. For example, I know VMware’s current DaaS offering includes options for both Windows 7 and 8. VMware has indicated they are compliant with Microsoft’s licensing because “Horizon DaaS provides dedicated vSphere hosts for each tenant “. At the same time, I’ve read that Microsoft has clarified the “dedicated-hardware requirement” such that it now extends to all infrastructure, not just computing. As it stands, this part of the DaaS market still seems a bit muddled. Thanks again.

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