Desktop as a Service

Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Choosing the Right Solution

[Cloud Volumes ONTAP, Elementary, 8 minute read, VDI, Desktop as a Service, A]

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solutions enable you to remotely deploy cloud-based virtual desktops. DaaS is typically centralized via a user-friendly interface, where you can control the management of virtual desktops. DaaS backend is based on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but this part of the operation is managed by each DaaS provider.

In this post, we’ll provide a close examination of the DaaS model, including concepts, use cases, and evaluation measures for services. We’ll also show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help simplify DaaS storage across multi-clouds and hybrid architectures.

In this article, you will learn

What Is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

DaaS is a cloud-based managed service that enables you to deploy virtual desktops to your staff. These desktops can be deployed to any location and nearly any client, enabling staff to access applications and data when they need to. Desktops are centrally managed and require no on-premises infrastructure to host.

How Desktop as a Service Works 

DaaS solutions are subscription services that operate from multi-tenant servers, with many clients sharing resources. These services use a backend, based on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) infrastructure. Each desktop is contained in a virtual machine that streams to an end-user device. These machines can be static or ephemeral, depending on whether you want users to customize their desktops or store local data.

In this model, the DaaS provider is responsible for virtual desktop management. This includes provisioning storage and compute resources, backing up data, managing infrastructure security, maintaining hardware, and updating software. The customer is responsible for managing machine images, maintaining applications, and securing access to desktops or attached data.

DaaS Examples and Use Cases

You can use DaaS implementations for nearly any purpose that you can use a traditional desktop. In addition, these services can provide some additional benefits for the following use cases:

  • Call-center, part-time, and shift work—virtual desktops enable organizations to reuse the same client for multiple staff easily. Each staff member can be assigned a desktop and unique login for use during their shift. Then, when the next employee begins work, they can login with their own credentials.
  • Software developers—developers can use virtual desktops to access multiple environments and operating systems from a single client. This can significantly ease development and testing by enabling a developer to switch between desktops quickly.
  • Healthcare providers—in clinics and hospitals, providers often move throughout the facility. Virtual desktops can enable providers to move from patient to patient while maintaining their own desktop session. Virtual desktops can also make it easier to meet HIPAA compliance by eliminating the risk of data breaches caused by stolen devices.
  • University labs—software licenses for educational institutions can be expensive, limiting the number of applications that schools can purchase or provide. Virtual desktops can enable schools to grant many students access to a single installation on an as needed basis.
  • Seasonal or contract work—virtual desktops can eliminate maintenance that can come with temporary workers, such as wiping or reconfiguring workstations. You can create and retire desktops as needed, enabling you to quickly onboard users when needed.
  • Remote and mobile workers—since virtual desktops aren’t tied to a single client, you can use DaaS to enable remote or mobile work. Additionally, your IT team's desktops are fully managed, reducing concerns about managing personal or mobile devices.
  • Mergers and acquisitions—DaaS enables you to add more workers at scale without acquiring new hardware. For example, if you merge with an existing company that already has hardware, you can deploy your own desktops without having to reconfigure clients manually.

How to Evaluate Desktop as a Service Providers

There are several well-known DaaS options to choose from, including ones from both Azure and AWS. When selecting a provider, you need to make sure that their services match your needs and can provide the following capabilities.

Compatibility with the current virtualization deployment
If you are already working with on-premises virtualized environments, it is important to choose a service with a compatible format. If services aren’t compatible, IT teams have to rebuild your systems which can take significant time and effort. A better option is to choose a provider that is already compatible and has tools in place to help you migrate your existing configurations.

Documentation and support
When evaluating providers, verify that their documentation clearly details what services they provide. This includes what the provider is responsible for vs what you are responsible for. It also includes fully understanding how desktop licensing works. For example, are you charged per user or instance and per minute or month.

Understanding what support is included is also important. For example, what service level agreements are in place to assure availability. Or, if something goes wrong, how responsive is technical support.

Backup and recovery options
DaaS, like most cloud services, often includes built-in backup and recovery options. However, these options may not be automatic or included in your licensing costs. You should verify what backup and recovery options are available to you and how those options are managed.

Additionally, you should decide what you need to backup. If you are only using ephemeral desktops with no persistent storage, backups may not be a concern. However, if you have persistent desktops with local storage, you need to have a plan in place for routinely backing up that information, so no data is lost.

Security
While DaaS can provide greater security than traditional workstations, it is not immune to vulnerabilities. DaaS providers should include security measures in their services beyond keeping applications or OSs up to date. For example, providing native tools for encryption, permissions management, or denial-of-service attack prevention.

When evaluating providers, you need to clarify what security aspects the provider is responsible for vs what you are responsible for. You should also determine what compliance standards the provider is certified to meet and if there are special configurations those standards limit you to.

Monitoring
One of DaaS' greatest benefits is centralized monitoring and management of desktops. However, to monitor desktops effectively, IT teams need to be able to integrate cloud monitoring with existing platforms. Ideally, your provider should enable you to ingest alerts and data from your service. This enables teams to combine DaaS information with that of other systems for comprehensive visibility.

Desktop as a Service with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more. 

To find out more about DaaS and how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you run virtual desktops on cloud resources, download our guidebook on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in the Cloud. You can also learn about case studies of major companies who turned to Cloud Volumes ONTAP to make their DaaS deployments cost-effective, highly available, and easy to orchestrate with the flagship NetApp cloud solution.

NetApp’s Virtual Desktop Service (VDS) is a global control plane for virtual desktop management that functions as an extension of the cloud. VDS supports Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Azure, AWS, GCP as well as on-premise environments. It also provides native support for Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) solution in Microsoft Azure. To learn more visit the NetApp VDS solution page.

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This article explains what Amazon WorkSpaces is, explains use cases and benefits of the service, provides a high-level overview of its architecture, and highlights some security considerations to be aware of.

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DaaS in Cloud Computing: Top Providers and Use Cases

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) deployments enable you to serve cloud-based desktops to your users from managed hosts. These services are available as fully managed services or as platforms that you can configure and manage as you see fit.

This article explains the difference between DaaS providers and platforms, introduces the top 3 DaaS providers, and explains how you can use DaaS for disaster recovery.

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