What is DaaS Cloud Computing?
Are you looking for information about DaaS in cloud computing (Desktop-as-a-Service) and wondering whether it’s the right cloud computing model for your organisation? DaaS is far less ubiquitous than other cloud computing models, and you might find that there’s not much information out there. That said, DaaS offers an impressive list of benefits that are hard to ignore, especially with the on-going pandemic (more on that later).
In this article, we’ll go over the specifics of DaaS — how it works, benefits and disadvantages. Only then can you decide if it is the right model for your business. Let’s get right to it.
How Does it Work?
IBM defines DaaS as a method for delivers virtual machine environments to users via the cloud. This includes operating systems, apps, file storage, etc., which users can access from just about any Internet-capable personal device — PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.
The cloud based provider handles all the backend data center for the virtual desktop infrastructure in exchange for a monthly or yearly subscription (per-user). This includes (but is not limited to) data storage, updates/upgrades, backup and security services.
But wait — aren’t desktop virtualization nothing new? After all, the technology has been around since early 1990. DaaS in cloud computing is undoubtedly similar to VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure VDI) in that the computing solution comes from a centralized data centre; there is one crucial difference.
Traditional VDI deployment requires an on-premise IT infrastructure and a dedicated group of IT professionals to manage the DaaS solutions. On the other hand, DaaS service offers a “hands-free” experience for organisations since everything is provisioned and operated by a cloud based provider.
A DaaS solutions providers generally offer two types of virtual desktops to end-users:
- Non-persistent — In a non-persistent VD (virtual desktop) deployment, everything is wiped clean each time a user logs off from the virtual computer. While more affordable, this type of DaaS in cloud computing is limited in that you can only use it to access shared services — documents, applications, reports, images, etc.
- Persistent — In a persistent DaaS deployment, users have the option to save files/settings and customise their virtual desktop. The VD will look and work the same way even after the user logs off from the virtual computer. As you might imagine, this deployment takes up more of a cloud provider’s computing resources and tends to cost more than non-persistent deployments.
Benefits of DaaS Model
Now that you have a good idea of how DaaS works, we can quickly identify some key advantages that come with this type of cloud deployment:
- Offers a flexible computing experience for users — staff can access their virtual desktop at home, at the office, or while travelling on just about any internet-capable device. Organisations can ensure that their employees will always have access to their files and applications wherever they may be.
- Cost Effective — providers offer a complete virtual desktop solution for businesses. Hence, there’s no need to purchase and maintain your computing, network and data as a service. Which can be a cost saving measure for any company moving forward.
- Faster onboarding — businesses no longer have to spend time installing and configuring new computers. New employees can log in and get started with their virtual desktop environment in just a few minutes.
- No need to upgrade to the latest hardware. Vendor’s responsibility to ensure the best possible virtual computing experience for their clients. This includes, among other things, upgrading to the latest hardware every few years.
- Reduce the burden on IT personnel — Your IT staff no longer have to deal with menial tasks such as repairing/maintaining computers, patching and upgrading applications. The cloud provider handles all of these tasks on the backend.
- Data security — DaaS in cloud computing entails fewer risks for a data breach that often occurs due to stolen computers (laptops, tablets and smartphones). Organisations need only revoke the authentication on stolen devices barring access to sensitive data. Likewise, staff can resume their work on another PC without any interruption.
- Easy data compliance — -enables businesses to store their data in an ISO-compliant data centre. This fulfils an organisation’s responsibility towards data protection without spending time and resources on said compliance.
Disadvantages of DaaS Model
Having mentioned many great things about DaaS , you might be wondering why it isn’t as popular as the other cloud computing models. You’d think that the mere fact that you don’t have to spend on hardware for an on-premise IT infrastructure would offer more than enough incentive for businesses to flock to DaaS.
However, that just isn’t the case, and it’s all because of a few notable disadvantages:
- Dependence on a top-tier network connection — among the key factors that hold most businesses back from adopting DaaS is heavy dependence on a fast Internet connection. After all, access to a virtual network station is great, but only if you’re connected to a network with enough speed and bandwidth for an uninterrupted desktop experience. As you might imagine, access to such a network isn’t going to be cheap.
- You still need a computer — While DaaS enables users access to a virtual desktop infrastructure VDI through the cloud, you will still need a device to access said cloud service. Hence businesses will still need to furnish their employees with desktop or laptop computers, which slightly negates the cost advantage of DaaS. To what degree, and whether it’s still worth it, depends on your organisation’s needs.
- Licensing is still an issue — One thing that businesses should know about DaaS is that while they do offer access to a virtualised computing environment, you will still need a license for the operating system you’re running under said service DaaS. In most cases, DaaS vendors integrate the license cost up their subscription model, or you can use your license (if you already have one). Either way, users still end up paying a licensing fee.
- Heavy dependence on the cloud — As you might imagine, DaaS users are heavily reliant on their cloud vendor for everything. Hence, any failure on the part of the cloud vendor can be nothing short of catastrophic. Compare this to a hybrid cloud infrastructure wherein if the cloud fails, you can still count on your on-premise IT to pick up the slack. No such assurance exists when it comes to DaaS in cloud computing (everything is hosted in the cloud).
Is DaaS the right cloud computing model for you?
Well, the answer depends on the needs of your organisation. Many businesses have invested in DaaS as a means to ensure business continuity. It is safe to say that such a decision has paid off following the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of people are forced to do their work at home. On the other hand, that’s nothing new for organisations that have been using DaaS for years, enabling them to avoid costly downtimes and loss of productivity.
Among the most successful use cases include the following:
- Remote staff — businesses that deal with a significant number of mobile workers from a remote location can use DaaS to ensure productivity and data security. This type of cloud model is perfect for users who can’t afford to be tethered to one place.
- Ideal for organisations that deal with a lot of seasonal/contract workers. A VD can be wiped clean and reprovisioned into new ones for onboarding a different user after a contract expires.
- Universities can use DaaS to share access to limited/expensive software with staff and students.
- Healthcare workers can use DaaS to ensure quick access to patient information regardless of their location. More importantly, no sensitive data is stored on local user devices, which means that stolen computers are no longer a significant security concern.
- Software developers can use DaaS to quickly test applications across different types of operating systems and configurations. There’s no need to switch from one physical computer to another manually. This helps accelerate the development of new applications, even on limited hardware.
Of course, that doesn’t mean DaaS will work for everyone. Even with the use cases mentioned above, businesses will need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of DaaS in cloud computing. Only then can you determine whether or not DaaS fits into your business needs and processes.
More importantly, if you decide to switch to DaaS computing, make sure that you choose a reputable cloud vendor with an excellent track record (uptime and security). After all, you’d be practically moving everything into the cloud and depend on your DaaS vendor to keep your business going.
So there you have it — all that you need to know about DaaS in cloud computing. As you may have already realised, DaaS offers a wealth of advantages, especially at a time when most businesses are reeling from the challenges of running a workforce using remote desktops. That said, a DaaS deployment also has drawbacks that must be carefully considered.