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Desktop-as-a-service market faces fears about IT control

DaaS helps organizations avoid the complexity and high cost of VDI, but some organizations have cloud computing security concerns and fear outsourcing.

Some IT departments are shying away from DaaS despite some of its advantages over VDI.

Desktop as a service (DaaS) offers many of the same benefits as VDI, plus potential management and infrastructure cost savings, because it's based in the cloud. But some IT professionals are skeptical of the desktop-as-a-service market because they don't want to cede control over their desktop delivery technology.

"If someone came to me and asked me to invest in [DaaS] today, I don't know that I would," said Dominic Namnath, CIO at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a nonprofit organization and Citrix XenApp customer in Santa Barbara, Calif. "I want the ability to control our environment."

Cloud computing security concerns, plus questions surrounding compliance and uptime, also give businesses angst about the desktop-as-a-service market. These concerns are typical with cloud in general. One concern that is not completely specific to the cloud is that many service providers are startups. Organizations considering DaaS should be aware that a startup could go out of business overnight, said Robert Young, a research director at IDC.

"Will they be there for a long-term DaaS strategy?" Young said. "If they do go out of business, how do you get data back? Make sure the vendor accommodates that."

Today, there are not any features or functionality advantages of DaaS over VDI for users, said David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

The value proposition is well understood with VDI, but the growth hasn't been there, not to the extent people thought it would.
Robert Youngresearch director, IDC

"DaaS providers continue to improve, and they are getting better at providing precisely what's needed, such as just applications instead of a whole desktop environment," Johnson said. "Things like that are getting better, but DaaS doesn't have an advantage for the user over VDI."

Because DaaS is still a growing technology it has yet to pass VDI in the aspect of feature functionality, however this is expected to change in the next 18 to 24 months, according to Gartner. If this holds true, and the desktop-as-a-service market continues to improve while the industry mitigates cloud computing security concerns, the market will see increased growth, according to Gartner's Market Guide for Desktop as a Service.

Deploying DaaS

When considering DaaS, organizations need to test it with their environment; otherwise it may result in a net loss despite the expected cost savings. In addition, the user experience needs to be equal to or better than what users already have, or else it will reduce productivity, Gartner said.

It's also important for businesses to determine if their applications require desktop operating systems, since some DaaS vendors utilize Windows Server 2008 R2 instead of a Windows desktop OS. Because of this approach, it is not uncommon for businesses to notice a hit in performance to a small number of its applications after implementing DaaS on a server OS, Gartner said. 

By 2019, 50% of new virtual desktop users will be deployed on DaaS platforms, the report said.

"One of the things with VDI is a lot of people expected faster growth than what has happened over the last several years," Young said. "The value proposition is well understood with VDI, but the growth hasn't been there, not to the extent people thought it would."

With VDI, businesses save money on managing endpoints and extending the lifecycle of clients, but they spend money on implementing the supporting data center infrastructure. Additionally, it costs more to hire IT professionals who are well versed in managing networks, storage and servers compared to those whose area of expertise is managing PCs, Young said. By outsourcing desktop delivery, businesses don't need to put up with the complexities of managing VDI or keep up with the high costs of doing so.

But the concern over the lack of control is still making organizations hesitant to completely jump on board. 

"We are not seeing large enterprises going all in on DaaS," Young said. "They have it in a subset of their environment, but [with] some on-premises VDI too."

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