Desktop as a Service or DaaS is a very effective cloud computing solution. In this post, we will explain how DaaS works and whether it suits your deployment needs. To better understand DaaS, let’s briefly touch how a conventional desktop functions.
Working of a Conventional Desktop
It is a physical machine which comes with tangible storage, processing and input resources. In a tech environment, this is known as an end-point device. In medium to large sized organizations, the number of such desktops can easily reach hundreds or even thousands.
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In this environment, each physical machine has to be looked after individually in terms of both hardware and software. Each device needs to be updated or patched individually. Lastly, you need to connect all the desktops over some network so that flow of information can take place efficiently.
By now, you would have figured out some of the major limitations to this deployment model. Firstly, it all requires sizeable investment in hardware resources. Secondly, it is both cumbersome and administratively costly to maintain so many individual end point devices. Organizational efficiency also suffers in this model.
Basic Working of DaaS
Your average DaaS is just like a conventional desktop, with the main exception that it resides virtually over a server that is either present on premise or sourced from a third party known as a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). All the support resources such as storage and processing also come from the virtual source.
Either the internet or a company’s intranet act as a bridge between the servers that house the Virtual Desktops (VD) and the end user. In a DaaS deployment, a user may access the VD from multiple devices such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. All these devices will also act similar to an end point device.
The login medium is generally a web browser or a dedicated portal in some cases. Each user will first input unique login credentials to gain access to the VD. After login, the environment of the VD will be exactly similar to your physical desktop. The end user will give inputs to the VD using any of the above login devices.
Once a user has completed all the work over the VD, a simple logout is required as with any other application such as your email account. As soon as a user logs out, all the work that has been executed over the VD is safely stored over the virtual storage resources available over the same server.
When the user logs in again from any device, work can be started exactly from where it was left off in the previous session. A VD environment is managed via complex software that creates separate instances of desktops virtually over a large storage resource such as a server.
In a DaaS deployment, all other aspects of a conventional desktop such as storage and processing are also virtualized. Now that we have covered how DaaS works, let’s briefly discuss the two most common models of deploying a DaaS solution.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – VDI
In this deployment model, the central server that contains all the virtualized instances of desktops is maintained by the deploying organization over its own premise. Users access their VDs over an intranet or VPN for added cyber security. This model is used when an organization wants to maintain exclusivity and full control.
The downside to this added control is that although the benefits of virtualization are obvious, the deploying entity still has to invest in on premise servers and support hardware. Maintaining this complex architecture also requires both financial and human resources.
Desktop as a Service – DaaS
This is an outsourced deployment model for VDs in which the hardware and all the support resources come from a third party called Cloud Service Provider (CSP). In exchange for using its hardware, the CSP will charge an organization a usage fee that varies with the number of VDs and their specifications.
CSPs offer their VDs to multiple tenants at a time to spread their high costs over a large number of entities. This implies that although there is no overlap in the VDs of one cloud tenant or the other, the resources are still shared at the end of day. This results in saving costs but at the same time, the cloud tenant loses control over data.
In this post, we have covered both the deployment models for Virtual Desktops (VD). Whether to go for VDI or DaaS will largely depend on the individual preference of each organization prospecting for virtualizing its desktops. Remember the thumb rule, VDI means more control over data but higher costs.
DaaS means lesser costs in terms of IT hardware but lower control over organizational data which will be residing in a third party data center. We can conclude by saying that if cyber security is robustly planned and executed, a DaaS based deployment model should be preferred specially by small and less established organizations.