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Overview of Desktop-as-a-Service

Desktop-as-a-service, also referred to as DaaS, is a cloud-oriented platform that provides virtual desktop infrastructure services with back-end operations left up to a cloud service provider. Such operations include data storage, file archival, system security and upgrades. There are a number of advantages to desktop-as-a-service, including reduced costs in comparison to hosting an in-house virtual desktop infrastructure.

Brian Duckering, senior director of product marketing with NComputing, talks about some of the downfalls of using multiple physical machines. He was quoted as saying: “Excessive cost of maintaining physical PCs is the most common thing you find in end-user computing, but sometimes operational costs may be hidden or unassociated with PC infrastructure. IT administrators may not recognize that they have less and less time for strategic initiatives as they labor to keep PCs usable." He also spoke about some of the misconceptions of relying on desktop-as-a-service functionality by saying: “Make sure you understand who will maintain the environments and the applications themselves. Moving to a hosted IT environment does not outsource all of your responsibilities, so know which are still yours.”

For small and medium-sized businesses, desktop-as-a-service offers relief from some of the IT expenses accrued on a day-to-day basis. However, IT experts are quick to point out that desktop-as-a-service is not suitable for every scenario. Those who are considering the transition to a desktop-as-a-service platform should take into account their current expenses as well as IT-specific salaries and technical support costs before making a final decision.

Jim Lippie, president of IndependenceIT, also highlighted some of the cost benefits of switching to desktop-as-a-service. He was quoted as saying: “We're seeing a lot of end-user companies moving to the cloud workspace—regardless of their sophistication—when they need to refresh their servers. Instead of buying new servers and paying $15,000 to $50,000 for the upgrade, they can opt for a pay-as-you-go DaaS approach.”

Another factor to consider when trying determining whether or not desktop-as-a-service is right for your company is the age of your existing IT infrastructure, including any personal computers and servers that are currently in use. If such equipment is over three years old, you should be comparing the costs to upgrade your current equipment against the expenses of desktop-as-a-service.

Those who are considering the transition to desktop-as-a-service should also take into account the amount of data storage space that is included in the service. While DaaS options typically included some amount of storage space, this may be extremely limited. In this case, you may have to reach out to additional storage services to fulfill your needs.

While there are a number of desktop-as-a-service providers in operation today, there are a few that are more prolific than others. Amazon WorkSpaces features several different pricing models as well as Active Directory integration. Citrix XenDesktop offers greater compatibility than Amazon Workspaces, but prices may vary greatly depending on the specific provider. VMware’s Horizon Air offers even more compatibility as well as varied pricing options, but a minimum order of 50 users is required.

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