Over the last couple of years, many companies have shifted to a more hybrid or remote workstyle. Employees are no longer sitting at the office all day, but are enjoying the work-from-home lifestyle. You even see some people move to more remote locations and at the same time keep their job in the big city.
This shift has put on a challenge for the IT department in terms of delivering applications and data securely to many remote locations rather than just the company data center. One way of solving this is to give users their own virtual desktop. Users can securely log on to their virtual desktop from anywhere, from any network, from any device.
DaaS Vs. VDI
Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) has become very popular because it is very easy to get started with and needs no upfront investment. All infrastructure is installed and maintained by the provider and you will be up and running within hours after signing up. The provider takes care of the resources, so you just need to order the right number of desktops and not worry about hardware and capacity. Desktop-as-a-Service is very flexible which allows you to scale up and down on a monthly basis. That way, you only pay for what you use.
With a VDI solution, you or your IT department will have to operate the infrastructure to deliver virtual desktops to the users. This requires skills and resources. There are three major on-premises solutions today:
- VMware Horizon
- Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops
- Microsoft RDS
Staff will need to get trained in using one of these platforms. VMware and Citrix are now offering their solutions as a SaaS offering. This makes it a lot easier to get started. Both companies have also shifted from a perpetual license model to a subscription-based license model to become more flexible in terms of the license cost.
A VDI solution also gives administrators more control of the virtual desktops. They can customize the desktops to the specific needs of the users whereas DaaS is a more standardized solution. The security settings that are available with a Desktop-as-a-Service are very limited. If the virtual desktops need to meet certain security regulations for the company to become compliant, the company will be looking into a VDI solution.
Why not just use VPN
VPN will not give the same security as virtual desktops if you ask me. Reaching the same level of security using is very hard and is going to take a lot of time.
You will also have to think about latency between the client and the infrastructure in the data center. Some applications will not be able to run to a degree where you can give the users a good experience. They will simply not perform well enough.
Should I go with DaaS or VDI?
I actually wrote this article, because I keep hearing people say that they want to shut down their VDI solution and subscribe to a DaaS solution. It is a lot easier for them because of less maintenance. Some also talk about moving their virtual desktops to a public cloud.
This will take me to the key takeaway in this article. With all the clouds that are now available from Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle, or any DaaS offering, there is one rule above everything else. You do not move the frontend away from the backend when it comes to Win32 applications. In the same way, you will fail with a VPN solution, you will also fail if you move your virtual desktops away from your backend. Let us say, as an example, that you deliver an ERP application using a virtual desktop. The application most likely communicates with a database or server application. If you move that application away from its backend, you get an issue with latency across the network and you will give your users a terrible user experience. Worst case, the application will fail.
My best advice is to ask yourself why you have a VDI solution in the first place. It could be because of security reasons. In many cases, it is because you want to deliver Win32 applications to your users, who are not on the company network and give them a great user experience. I guess that the goal has not changed.
To end where we started. Right now the need for remote solutions is greater than ever. It is important to make the right decisions when it comes to IT solutions. There are many new solutions out there, but the good old rules still apply.