VDI vs DaaS – Which is right for you?

VDI vs DaaS – Which is right for you?

The large number of employees working remote or in a hybrid scenario has brought VDI and now Desktop as a Service (DaaS) to the top of the list of topics being discussed or implemented for many organizations.  But what is the difference between VDI and DaaS?  Both provide virtual desktops that can be accessed by employees from anywhere. 

In this weeks post on the Xenwerx blog we will look at the differences and similarities between VDI and DaaS.

Let’s start by defining what VDI and DaaS are.  VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) allows organizations to provide Windows or Linux based virtual workstations or machines (VMs) either on-premises or utilizing cloud providers.  These virtual desktop machines can be made available to users working both inside the organization or remotely for a consistent user experience regardless of where the user is located or on what device, laptop, tablet, mobile or personal computer they are using to access the virtual desktop.

DaaS provides all the same features and functionality of VDI but is located solely in cloud environments but is also managed by the cloud providers rather than your own internal IT staff. In addition there are several other differences between DaaS and VDI.

VDI environments whether they be on-premises or in the cloud are traditionally single tenant in nature.  Meaning that members of your organization are the only ones accessing those machines and that allows you complete control over the configuration and access to those resources.  DaaS environments on the other hand  or often based on multi-tenant environments.  In the multi-tenant configuration the servers that host the desktops are shared by multiple organizations.  That is not to say that multiple organizations are using the same desktops.  Rather the DaaS machines that your company has obtained are only used by your organization but the backend infrastructure is shared between all or multiple clients. The biggest pitfall with multi-tenant designs is that if there is a problem or security breach with the host or another clients resources that can have an adverse effect on your organizations resources even though they are isolated.

The amount of work to initially setup and the ongoing maintenance that your organization must perform is drastically different between a VDI and DaaS environment.  As mentioned previously in a VDI environment your organization (or one of your vendors) is responsible for the initial design, installation, and configuration of your VDI environment whether that is on site or in the cloud.  You also have to contend with the ongoing maintenance of the environment same as you would a fleet of physical PCs and laptops.  DaaS on the other hand, has the infrastructure installed, configured and maintained by the cloud provider. 

As with everything else, cost is always a factor when making a business decision.  VDI vs DaaS is no different.  VDI can often require significant capital expenses in the purchasing of hardware to run the solution if suitable equipment is not already available in the organization’s data center.  These capital expenses can be depreciated and technical debt paid down over time.  Other than license renewals and support plans there are no required ongoing subscriptions.  DaaS is an entirely subscription based model. So although very little if any capital expenses are required to get a DaaS solution up and running there is the ongoing subscription cost that must be incurred by the organization.  Subscription cost is often times calculated based on the number of desktops required and how many hours those devices are powered on.  In addition the licensing cost for the solution may still be required as the subscription often only covers the power, processing and storage required for the solution.

Control and security are two key factors that should weigh in to any organizations decision regarding VDI or DaaS.  With VDI the organization has full control over the infrastructure and desktops.  This allows for upgrades, maintenance, and design changes to be made at the companies discretion.  This also allow organizations to strengthen their security posture in any way the wish and is compatible with the VDI solution.  If an organization was only going to allow access to the VDI from within the organization and not allow external remote access then incoming connections from the internet could be blocked for example.  A DaaS solution offers far less control for the organization and the potential for decreased security.  Since the infrastructure of a DaaS solution is controlled by the cloud provider the organization has very little if any say in the changes or upgrades that are made and may or may not have access or the ability to monitor the environment.  In addition since the desktops are located in one of the cloud provider’s data centers the environment is always exposed to the internet and requires access to the internet for every user wanting to access their environment.

There are a multitude of both VDI and DaaS providers with some providers dipping their toe in the pool of both solutions.  This has only been a tiny portion of the similarities and differences between VDI and DaaS.  There are many more and each organization is different in their requirements for usability, control and security.

So which is right for your organization?  It depends on many factors.  CapEx vs Subscription, control, staff knowledge and experience, user base and experience, number of company locations, integration with other products and services.  It is difficult to narrow down a simple yes / no flow chart that will lead you to the right decision but considering the above list of factors and comparing the differences and similarities should help you to pick your direction.  User experience is one of they keys to ensure that a VDI or DaaS initiative is successful.  A solution that kind of works or addresses some of the requirements of an organization usually cannot be shoe-horned into place and be successful.

Xenwerx is happy to help your organization decide whether VDI or DaaS is best for you and help your team facilitate a successful implementation of either solution.  Reach out to us today to start the conversation regarding VDI or DaaS.