Key Points: 

  • Think DaaS is your IT grandpa’s method of remote computing? Not necessarily! While not for every situation, there are times when DaaS is a good option for you
  • But there are also security and portability issues you must keep in mind as well
  • There are many vendors out there, so learn how to do a proper evaluation and pick the vendor that’s right for you

Note: Whether it’s local or remote, you’re company probably uses a ton of cloud apps. If you need a better way to discover shadow IT, optimize your license management, and automate administrative tasks like onboarding and offboarding, check out how a SaaS Management Platform can help.

Some see Desktop as a Service (DaaS) as a relic in our flashy, browser-centric cloud era. But don’t underestimate it – DaaS can be a lifesaver in specific situations, like needing high-power computing on a budget or temporary system access for contract work.

In fact, since 2018, the DaaS market has more than doubled from $3 billion to $6.5 billion and that growth is expected to continue

But is Desktop as a Service (DaaS) right for you and your organization? 

What is a Desktop as a Service (DaaS)? 

Let’s start with a basic definition. Desktop as a Service is a cloud computing service in which the backend of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is hosted by a cloud service provider. It provides users with virtual desktop accessibility from anywhere, at any time, providing workspace flexibility, scalability, and reduced IT workload.

You can think of it like hiring a personal chef to cook at home. Instead of buying all the ingredients and cooking tools and spending time preparing meals (akin to setting up and managing physical desktop infrastructure), you just place your order, and voila! Your personal chef (the DaaS provider) cooks up your favorite meals (desktop environments) on demand, delivers them fresh to your table (your devices), handles all the cleanup (maintenance and updates), and you can enjoy your meals anytime, anywhere.

What Is The Difference Between VDI and DaaS?

You might sometimes hear VDI and DaaS used interchangeably. While a VDI can be hosted by a cloud service provider (aka – DaaS), people will often refer to a VDI meaning an internally hosted infrastructure. In this case, there’s one big difference—ownership and responsibility. A VDI is like a DIY project. You’re setting up, managing, and maintaining your own virtual desktops right in your on-premises data center. Think of it like cooking your own gourmet meal. You get control over the ingredients (your software, hardware, data), but you also have to deal with all the prep work and cleaning up afterward. Not to mention, you need a good chef (or a tech whizz) to make sure everything goes according to plan.

VDI: More control, but more responsibility. It’s on you to handle the tech nitty-gritty.

DaaS: Less control, but less responsibility. Your provider does the heavy lifting while you kick back and relax.

Misconceptions about DaaS

While DaaS seems like a step into the past, it’s much more than just a modern spin on the terminal computing tradition. I know what you’re thinking: “Why should I use a remote operating system when I can do everything with a web browser?” I get it. DaaS seems like a roundabout solution when our computers are already equipped with everything we need.

Yet, let’s not be too quick to judge. DaaS is a classic case of “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” Yes, it involves accessing a remote system using a system. Sounds a bit like buying crypto with fiat to purchase a pizza. But trust me, DaaS does make sense in specific contexts and can solve not just technical, but also business challenges.

So, before we dismiss DaaS as an outdated idea, let’s examine its unique potential applications. Remember, not every problem calls for the latest tech tool; sometimes, a slightly older one can do the job just as well, if not better. 

Good Use Cases: When DaaS is a Great Options

Let’s hop into the specific situations where DaaS shines

DaaS: The Budget-Friendly Powerhouse

First, consider the budget-conscious small architecture firm or budding game designer needing high-performance systems for complex tasks. Instead of buying pricey hardware, DaaS provides access to robust systems for a fraction of the cost. It’s akin to leasing a sports car for the weekend rather than buying one outright. Sure, you should probably purchase the right equipment eventually, but DaaS can help you get started on a budget while you try to stay lean in the beginning.

The Temporary Tech Solution: DaaS to the Rescue

Next up, temporary usage situations. Whether it’s providing for contract workers or navigating the tech transition during a merger, DaaS can deliver system access without the expense of new hardware. No more buying equipment that will eventually be relegated to the storeroom. 

Financial Relief: Shifting Operating Expenses 

Lastly, let’s chat about operating expenses. When organizations aim to divert more toward software services and less on hardware investments, DaaS comes in handy. Transitioning from a capital expenditure to an operational one can offer significant financial ease.

Remote Work: Robust Machine—Anywhere You Go

If your team is spread across the city—or globe, DaaS provides the best way to equip them with top-tech capabilities without shipping everyone their own workstation. It also scales easily for a remote-first organization.

The takeaway? DaaS, while seeming outdated, can be a vital asset when deployed right.

Threats and Risks: When DaaS is a Liability

But, as you’ve probably guessed, there are clear downsides to many DaaS solutions. Just like with anything technology-based, there’s always the other side of the coin. In this section, we will NOT go into the cost of choosing DaaS, but instead—consider some of the less talked about—risks and challenges. 

Unprotected User Endpoints

Let’s start with user endpoints. That’s your laptops, desktops, tablets, and even your phones. When these aren’t protected properly, it can open a can of security vulnerabilities. If your user’s device is compromised by a keylogger or some other technique, this can allow a bad actor to remotely access your entire DaaS system. A robust security strategy should include elements like multi-factor authentication, encryption, and endpoint security software to keep everything locked down tight. This vulnerability is especially bad if users are using their personal devices to access the company’s DaaS system.

Lack of Network Security

Protecting network security is basically protecting the space between the user’s endpoint device and the DaaS system. It’s like the moat around your castle, but in this case, the castle is your DaaS provider, and the moat is the firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security measures put in place. Not having a sturdy and well-maintained moat, I mean network security, can leave you open to some nasty cyberattacks. This threat is especially present if your users are on unsecured networks like their home wifi or, worse, their local coffee shop wifi (I hope that latte was worth it). 

Inadequate Access Control

Alright, onto inadequate access control. This is when the wrong people have access to the right information or resources. Imagine a low-level intern having the same access rights as the CEO – scary thought, right? It’s crucial to have effective role-based access controls that give users just enough access to do their jobs but not so much that they pose a security risk.

Vendor Lock-In

Lastly, let’s tackle vendor lock-in. It’s like getting a tattoo of your high school sweetheart’s name – great at the moment, but what if (aka—when) things change? When you’re deeply integrated with one DaaS provider, it can be tough to switch to another if the need arises. Keep your eyes open for providers with open standards and easy data migration options to keep your freedom of choice intact.

How to Pick Your ‘Desktop as a Service’ Provider

There are a ton of DaaS providers out there, but how can you tell which ones are the best for your organization? We’ve talked in other articles about how to do vendor comparisons and use a decision-making matrix. Here are a few things to keep on your checklist:

Tech Support: Will they answer your 3 a.m. panicked phone calls/chat messages? 24/7 support is a real consideration if your 

Security: Cybercrooks are everywhere. Make sure your provider has robust security measures in place. Ask about specific scenarios and possibilities to truly understand how each vendor views and adapts to changing security concerns..

Compliance: If they don’t tick the right legal boxes (like GDPR or HIPAA), wave them goodbye.

Scalability: Can they keep up when your business hits the big leagues, what will it cost you as your use grows?

User Experience: Sad reality, but If it’s not user-friendly, your team won’t use it. 

Portability: What does the vendor lock-in look like? If you decide the change vendors in the future, how much trouble will it be? 

What are the Top 5 Desktop as a Service Providers? 

A handful of vendors stand out from the rest based on customer reviews, market reports, and other sources:

This is not a comprehensive list, but it is a great starting point if you’re looking for top players in the industry. As you create your vendor list, be sure to seek providers that meet your needs both today and in the future. 

Desktop as a Service in a Cloud-First World

And there we have it—your crash course on Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Sure, it might feel like a throwback in this ultra-modern, cloud-driven world. But as we’ve seen, this technology ain’t no relic. It’s a cost-effective powerhouse, a temporary tech savior, a financial relief valve, and a robust tool for a remote workforce. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife in your IT tool kit. Versatile, handy, and reliable.

However, just like any technology, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Its value really depends on your specific needs and context. Plus, there are challenges to watch out for. Unprotected user endpoints, network security, access control, and vendor lock-in are all important issues to consider. Always remember the golden rule: Know thy vendor! Be sure they can answer your panicked 3 a.m. calls, meet your security needs, comply with legal requirements, scale with your business, and provide a smooth user experience.

For companies of all sizes, understanding on-prem vs cloud or remote is a constant battle. While DaaS provides options, it won’t help you organize your other cloud resources, especially Software as a Service. If you’re struggling to keep cloud apps under control, learn more about SaaS Management platforms such as Torii and how they can provide the visibility, insight, and automation you need.