IaaS, PaaS pave the way for DaaS adoption

As companies host more resources and infrastructure in the cloud, trust in providers grows. That could help make DaaS viable sooner for many shops.

Everyone has their own schedule when it comes to accepting DaaS as a legitimate platform for their desktops. The overwhelming majority of people I talk to are simply observing the landscape.

They're usually not keen to make any drastic moves, but there are a few use cases in the backs of their minds where desktop as a service (DaaS) could make sense if certain criteria were met. In many cases, the criteria consist of both technical and business-oriented items.

But simply put, the desktop is too close to us to simply drop into the cloud. It's our users' interface to everything from apps and data to email. Moving to DaaS requires understanding how the desktop interacts with those elements, and it means overcoming any of the challenges that a cloud desktop presents over an on-premises one.

Companies that have already migrated certain elements of their IT infrastructure to the cloud are further down the DaaS path than others. If you use Gmail, you've already put your trust in Google to support email better than you can. If you're using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a backend service, your company has certified that AWS meets your needs from the technical, security and trustworthiness perspectives.

From IT to end users

New products such as AWS's Amazon WorkMail get me wondering when the tipping point is going to be, however.

Slowly but surely, cloud providers are building a foundation for all IT services to live in the cloud. Platform as a service enabled infrastructure as a service, and now we see companies moving some data center services to those platforms. As time goes by, those offerings have gotten increasingly close to the end user, as is the case Amazon WorkMail.

As cloud platforms grow and demonstrate their value and reliability to companies, confidence in the platform as a whole grows. Someday -- though I wouldn't dare venture a guess when -- you might wake up and realize that you already take advantage of so many other cloud services that the roadblocks to moving your desktops there have been removed. That day could be next week, or in five years (or never, depending on your use case), but every time a provider launches a service that inches closer to the end user, that day grows nearer.

If and when that day arrives, moving to DaaS will still bring its own challenges. Working at a company that's open to the idea is one thing, but actually implementing it is another.

You still have to manage the desktops from Windows on up (the provider takes care of the hardware and base OS), and you still have to deal with the complexities surrounding all the applications that run on your desktop. Where is the app data? Where is the user data? How do they authenticate, and to what? If all of that is in the cloud, great. But if not, you still have to figure that out.

I expect to see a combination of DaaS and IaaS offerings chip away at our defenses over the coming years. There will come a day when enough of the services that we hold near-and-dear to our hearts (and jobs) move to the cloud that we can view DaaS as a viable option.  That day is different for everyone, so until it comes to you, keep an eye on the landscape. You'll know when it gets here.

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