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Is the Cloud Ready for Your Desktop? Desktop as a Service is here.

IT teams today are saddled with a lot of responsibility, from keeping things running to modernizing and innovating. Many of our clients tell us they’re continually looking at ways to reduce time and money spent on management and operational tasks and increase focus on more strategic initiatives. In the realm of desktop management, virtualization has opened the door for IT teams to optimize the management of traditional desktop infrastructure. The end goal is to improve the end-user experience by providing a reliable solution to an increasingly mobile workforce, without increasing operational headaches for support teams. Enter Desktop as a Service!

The basics: VDI vs. Desktop as a Service

Virtual DesktopsLet’s start with a quick refresher on the main differences between virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS).

VDI refers to the technology that makes it possible to run a virtual desktop. This is the classic enterprise solution – put a server in a data center, leverage the virtualization software of your choice and you’re in action. The upside here is that IT teams retain total control of the environment, and it works well in on-premises deployments at either end of the spectrum, either dedicated instances with large amounts of RAM (16 GB or more) and GPU’s, or high-density, lightweight desktop instances for kiosks, consoles, and call centers. A great use case here is when users need to interact with resources on a shared server/database supporting enterprise workloads like ERP and corporate applications, where there is a network latency benefit to placing the desktop closer to the shared server. The support model, however, is not much different from a traditional desktop environment, leaving IT teams responsible for supporting hardware, hypervisors, and operating systems.

Conversely, Desktop as a Service elevates and abstracts the classic VDI setup and moves support responsibilities to a trusted hosting partner. This is, of course, a basic definition, but you should think of DaaS as VDI that is managed and supported via a third party. This third party assumes responsibility for service delivery, transparently (to you) managing hardware, end-user support, patching, break-fixes, and so on.

Three sources of virtual desktops

Virtual DesktopsThere are several routes you can take if you’re interested in virtual desktops. Major players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure offer a self-service model; you can also choose a managed cloud partner if you need enhanced support. Like anything, you’ll see that each of these has unique advantages.

  • AWS: In AWS, you can use Amazon WorkSpaces, which is a managed Windows 7 or Windows 10 DaaS solution, exclusively offered by Amazon. Management is simplified, integrated with your corporate directory, and administrators can use the AWS Management Console to provision desktops (and applications, and resources) remotely. Choose to pay either monthly or hourly, based on your needs. One plus: you can trial WorkSpaces for free if you’re just in the exploration stages.

AWS positions itself as a very simple solution to use. When it comes time to customize your desktop needs, they offer bundles to streamline the process. You can choose your CPU, memory, and SSD allocation to meet your requirements, and desktops can be streamed to a wide variety of devices.

  • Azure: Azure is also growing in popularity as a reliable option for desktop virtualization. Customers can pair the platform with a compatible partner, like VMWare, for the desktop infrastructure layer, allowing them to run Windows 10 desktops from within the Azure platform. Azure gives companies the benefit of being able to rapidly scale as necessary, so as users reach pre-set limits on computing power, memory, and storage, the platform can easily scale up to accommodate increased demand, ensuring that end-user experience doesn’t suffer. Azure has also made great strides in offering VM instances designed to make use of nVidia GRID technology, making the Microsoft cloud a great home for VDI environments that need to support graphics-intensive workloads. Additionally, Microsoft has made some significant enhancements in the security, keeps user data safe in Microsoft data centers, and also simplified backups and site-to-site replication.

Leveraging a service like VMWare Horizon Cloud allows you to manage your virtual desktops from a single management window. You also can choose your ideal setup: fully-managed infrastructure (via VMWare), public cloud infrastructure from Azure, or hybrid infrastructure such as Microsoft Azure Stack, where you can use your own on-premise hardware if necessary.

  • Evolve IP: Customers in need of dedicated support and management should consider working with a managed private cloud provider, such as Evolve IP. Note: Evolve offers both VDI and Desktop as a Service options. Their DaaS services are perfect for IT teams that are looking to outsource the time-consuming tasks that don’t bring immediate value back to the organization, such as routine patching/upgrades, backups, and anti-malware efforts. In a managed scenario, you still maintain access and control, but you’ve simplified much of the operational headaches.

iT1 is connected to the premium partners throughout the desktop virtualization and managed workspace industry. Our experienced professionals can evaluate your organization’s needs and provide an honest assessment of what your best options are. Please contact us if you’d like to talk. We are here to help.

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