Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Everything you need to know

While there was a time when IT changes needed to be synchronised across device types which meant high support costs, recent developments in cloud technology have now changed that.

Thanks to the emergence of secure virtual desktop infrastructure, business leaders can achieve consistency across all devices using a desktop operating system that’s hosted in the cloud.

Companies that adopt desktop virtualization can experience a range of business benefits, including greater workplace flexibility, fewer security risks, cost savings, business continuity and more control. As companies shift to a new normal with end users increasingly working remotely or splitting time between home and office, cloud based- virtual desktop solutions must be a consideration.

What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

While developers have been using virtualization technologies for years, these are now gaining traction as demand for secure, scalable and affordable IT infrastructure increases – and the way we work changes.

Some terms that people may have come across regarding virtualization include: 

But what are they, how are they related and what are the differences between them?

Understanding Virtual Machines

All desktop virtualization technology begins with a virtual machine (VM), and they are what a VDI leverages to manage virtual applications and virtual desktops. 

A Virtual Machine is an entire operating system that runs inside an application or file and behaves exactly like a physical computer. It has its own virtual resources, including a CPU, storage, display, serial ports, memory and so on.

Understanding Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization solutions are the next link in the chain of virtualization technologies and are the simplest form of ‘the computer’ within a virtualised computer concept. Usually, when someone refers to desktop virtualization, they are talking about a single desktop computer hosting a single guest VM. This is known as local desktop virtualization. It can include. however multiple guest VMs on a single host.

Understanding how VDI works

Virtual desktop infrastructure is another desktop virtualization technique and is essentially where desktop virtualization meets cloud computing. A VDI environment hosts desktop environments within virtual machines on a centralised server or datacentre. End users can then remotely access these virtual machines from virtually any device with an internet connection, as and when they need to.

These remote desktop environments are exactly like a traditional desktop, including OS, infrastructure and interface, and end users can manage it as though the VM is running locally on their device.

VDI leverages different components to deliver virtual desktops to an end user, which can include the following:

  • Hypervisor
  • Connection broker
  • Load balancer, and
  • Client application.

The benefits of using VDI

The primary benefits businesses can derive from using VDI include:

  • Cost savings
  • Improved security
  • Simplified IT administration
  • Remote access, and
  • Enhanced scalability.

Understanding remote access software and remote desktop apps

There’s an urgent need for products that make remote working easier, more secure and more productive. Remote access software is a vital part of delivering remote access for any modern workplace. That’s why it’s important to understand what remote access software and apps are, how they work and what benefits they offer organisations both today and in the future.

Understanding what remote access software is

Remote access software enables authorised staff to get remote computer access and device access from afar. Remote access solutions are already in widespread use on corporate and government networks. They enable management, IT staff and employees to log on to a workplace device from an off-premise location to gain easy access to work systems, work files and work data – simply by using an internet connection and remote desktop software.

In effect, remote access tools enable one computing device to view another device or even take remote control of it– not only over a network but also from any geographical position.

How remote access software can be leveraged

There are many ways in which businesses leverage remote access software, including:

  • Logging onto a client’s remote computer via remote session connections to teach them how to run a program or solve technical issues.
  • Sales staff can invite clients in a remote location to view a demo run from a desktop situated at a different site.
  • Transfer of files between two devices without the use of file-sharing services or email.
  • Make it easier for staff to connect and collaborate on complex projects in real time, utilising other apps, systems, voice and so on.

How do remote desktop apps work?

Remote desktop apps are often delivered through a cloud-based Virtual Desktop-as-a-Service (VDaaS) solution. The leading solutions enable organisations to implement remote working with complete confidence, as all relevant apps, workloads and data are securely hosted in the cloud. Only the projection of the graphic interface appears on the remote device.

What to look for when considering a remote desktop app

There are a number of key remote access features to look for when considering a remote desktop application, including:

  • Scalability, flexibility and reliability with full control, ideally with a single management pane
  • A consistent user experience
  • Availability
  • Compliance
  • Flexible contract terms that support scaling, and
  • A guarantee that all data (including metadata, monitoring data and derived analytics data) will remain in Australia and be managed by Australian citizens with full security clearance.

Key benefits of remote desktop access software and remote desktop apps

The main advantages of remote access software and remote desktop apps that a wide variety of organisations are benefitting from include:

  • More effective remote working
  • More productive, more engaged, more flexible teams
  • Technical support on tap
  • Greater employee collaboration, and
  • Improved efficiencies in computer resources.

10 benefits businesses can leverage from virtual desktops

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) delivers companies a wide range of benefits. Here are 10 key benefits you can leverage for your organisation.

  1. Workspace flexibility
  2. Productivity benefits
  3. Decreased security risks
  4. Cost reduction for licensing and infrastructure
  5. Simplified IT management
  6. Scale up or down based on need
  7. Improved disaster recovery and protection against outages
  8. Centralised troubleshooting
  9. Geo-replication
  10. Dynamic updating

Considering the pros and cons of desktop virtualization

Every company, Government Agency and Critical National Industry (CNI) provider is unique and needs to work out for themselves if the complications and challenges outweigh all the benefits.

While there are a variety of options when it comes to desktop virtualization, there are several key features they all have in common. It is the overall assessment of the pros and cons of these key features that need to be considered when deciding whether desktop virtualization is the right choice for an organisation.

Key feature: Hardware Costs Can Be Reduced

Pros: With DaaS and VDI, all the processing is done on a central server, and endpoints don’t need to have very much processing power to run desktop virtualization software. This means that organisations can invest in much more affordable devices, such as thin clients or tablets, and even repurpose otherwise useless old desktop devices to act as nothing more than terminals.

Cons: The hardware required to enable desktop virtualization is the most expensive upfront cost for organisations that opt for VDI over DaaS solutions.

Key feature: Planning for Future Application Needs Can Be Easier

Pros: While virtual desktops can run any OS with high-powered servers doing all the processing, admins can assign all the computing resources needed to run even the most complex and resource-heavy applications.

Cons: Some specialised legacy applications can be difficult to virtualise – sometimes requiring a complete overhaul and rewrite before they can be accessed via virtual desktops or shifted to a cloud environment. There can also be a learning curve when switching to a VDI or DaaS solution which can result in accidental but costly mistakes. Productivity may take a hit until everyone adjusts to this new way of doing their jobs.

Key feature: IT Administration Can Be Simplified

Pros: Organisations can use the same system image for every user, or a few different ones for multiple groups of users, so onboarding new employees, applications and devices takes a few clicks and only a few minutes each time.

Cons: A potential problem that needs to be considered is the risk of hardware-related outages. When a business is relying on a single server or using a single system image for every end user, any issues or outages can affect the entire organisation at once.

Key feature: Desktop Virtualization Can Make Organisations More Mobile

Pros: Desktop virtualization inherently supports remote working policies, can streamline processes right down to instantly switching between different OSs as needed on any device. Because employees have any time access to everything they need to do their jobs, it can speed up decision making and prevent sometimes costly delays.

Cons: Switching to desktop virtualization gives end users a certain amount of independence but can also be restrictive in certain cases.

Key Feature: It Can Improve Organisational Security

Pros: One of the biggest advantages of desktop VDI comes from the fact that it is inherently more secure. With the right access protocols in place, organisations can make sure that end users are only using secure connections to access the system as well.

Cons: With only one physical location for all data storage, malicious actors can concentrate their efforts in one place. And because there is less dependency on hardware, software-based attacks are more common.

Understanding Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a cloud computing offering delivered by a service provider to deploy virtual desktops that are hosted in cloud infrastructure to an organisation’s end users.

For those organisations that do not want to invest in developing their VDI, the service provider will manage the backend of the VDI on behalf of the company as a service. This management typically includes maintenance, backup, updates, and data storage. Cloud services providers may also handle security and applications for the desktop, or users may manage these service aspects individually.

The top 5 benefits you can leverage from Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

To get a better understanding, business leaders should know about the distinct benefits Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offers their organisations.

  1. Scalable modern workplace
    Desktop as a Service allows businesses to scale their operations almost instantly, as they can create a virtual work platform that lets employees work from home. At the same time, employees benefit from a consistent user experience since the apps they will need are available through the virtual desktops delivered by the DaaS.
  2. Cost savings
    IT expenditure can easily form a significant part of any business’s budget. When employers use DaaS, those same new end users can access key applications in a secure way, which then removes the costs associated with hiring an IT professional.
    Conveniently, DaaS providers also handle maintenance and offer helpdesk services for any operating system, which frees up each IT team member’s time, allowing them to become more efficient in addressing other issues.
    Finally, the use of virtual desktop services means employees can remain productive no matter where they are.
  3. More control over device and data
    When employers need their employees to work in a synchronised manner, ensuring they have the right apps is crucial. With virtual desktop running, every employee is accessing the same virtual desktop. This means the apps they need are available from the second they log on.
  4. Better management when the workforce is dispersed
    One of the biggest challenges that come with remote work is controlling access to apps and maintaining high levels of security. Virtual apps and desktops make it easier to overcome both obstacles. Depending on how a business operates, virtual desktop infrastructure can make it easier to hire remote employees.
  5. Platform benefits
    Managing a multitude of devices used by multiple users can soon become a struggle for IT teams. As DaaS is hosted in a cloud, a DaaS provider can offer troubleshooting services and make sure systems benefit from the latest updates for virtual apps and desktops.

Why Desktop-as-a-Service according to VMware

According to VMware, the various benefits an organisation can leverage from a Desktop-as-a-Service solution include simplified management of desktop operating systems, increased flexibility and lower cost of ownership in contrast to tradition models.

“Businesses that aim to offer remote work options and personal device flexibility can use DaaS to quickly and easily create a digital workspace. Users may log in to their virtual desktop from anywhere, via many different kinds of devices, and their desktop will look exactly the same as when they last visited from a different location. All they need is an internet connection. Since the data lives in a centralized, remote location, it can be constantly backed up – no need for users to manage back-ups on their own or worry about data existing on a computer at the office but not at home.” (Source)
A DaaS solution delivered via VMware cloud platform and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) delivers secure remote access, centralized software updates, better control over storage configurations, visibility across all desktop applications and all user endpoint devices.

Why the Australian Government Sector needs DaaS

Until now, the main tool deployed by the government sector to manage remote workers has been virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions which ensure security, support, continuity, and flexibility. Traditional VDI solutions met many of the needs of government to support distributed workforces but are now being superseded by cloud based VDI solutions – known as Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).

The government needs a workable solution for the different moving parts to collaborate and share while maintaining a stringent level of data and information security — with the added dimension of the remote working trend.

How Does Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Benefit Government Agencies?

The benefits of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions become clear upon examination of how government agencies have tended to implement remote work.

  • It’s customisable
  • It’s a lot faster
  • Information is secure
  • Complete device security
  • Secure access is provided
  • Backups are instant
  • Better cost efficiency
  • Virtual desktops use less bandwidth
  • VDI uses less power, and
  • VDI provides flexibility.

VDI vs. Desktop as a Service: What Government Agencies Should Know

The next generation of VDI solutions entail moving the functionality off premise and into a cloud environment. These solutions, known as Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provide an attractive alternative to traditional VDI in that they provide the same core capability as VDIs, but with the additional benefits that accrue through providing services from the cloud – scalability, cost efficiency and manageability.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solutions also cancel out the burden of supporting physical servers by providing that functionality from the cloud. 

Why DaaS is attractive to government organisations

With cloud DaaS, a third-party desktop service provider manages and maintains the infrastructure — including upgrades, hardware, and troubleshooting — and provides technical support. Instead of using capital for data centres and servers, DaaS helps to reduce costs by charging ongoing user license or subscription fees.

Compared to VDI, desktop virtualization delivered as a service deployment are quick to implement since the platform and the cloud infrastructure have already been configured. Additionally, the subscriptions tend to build in operating system licences for full virtual desktops. This is not only cost-effective and brings down the total cost, but it also allows clients to change operating systems and application software if or as needed.

Desktop virtualization delivered by a DaaS service provider tends to be favoured by most organisations that need to scale up or down quickly, whether it’s because of expected expansion or because of seasonal fluctuation in terms of workforce requirements for supporting government customers.

Cloud DaaS is also great for operations that that require high availability and need access 24/7. It also allows for the redeployment of IT staff to better manage internal stakeholder requirements or develop technology strategies.

The key benefits DaaS unlocks for the Critical National Industry (CNI) Sector

With the increasing complexity of service activities such as operation of utilities, transportation and logistics, health and medical services etc, CNI providers have accelerated digital transformation initiatives. The understand that the level of reliability and efficiency they need to support their business, services and customers depends on them automating operational processes.

While every level of government and CNI provider has undergone impressive modernisation over the last years, there is still a lot of work to be done – and to be done on an ongoing basis.

With their need for reliable productivity technology, many CNI organisations are turning to next-generation virtual Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) environments as their answer.

Understanding the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Sector

There are 11 critical infrastructure sectors whose networks, systems and assets – whether physical or virtual – are considered so essential to Australia that their destruction or incapacitation would have a devastating effect on national public health and safety, economic security, national security, or a combination of these. These sectors are:

  • Electricity/Energy
  • Water & Sewerage
  • Communications
  • Healthcare & Medical
  • Financial Services & Markets
  • Food & Grocery
  • Transport
  • Higher Education & Research
  • Data Storage or Processing
  • Space Technology
  • Defence Industry

How can Australia’s CNI Sector benefit from DaaS?

Even as CNI organisations continue with the fortification and maturation of their desktop virtualization strategies, the security and scalability of remote access remains a major concern. These organisations and Government Agencies need much more sophisticated solutions – cloud infrastructure, cloud services and managed services that deliver remote access while maintaining stringent control systems.

There are five important reasons why DaaS solutions are proving to be a critical link in what the future of work will look like for CNI providers.

  1. Remote access for a mobile workforce
    Staff need secure remote access, no matter where their physical location is.
  2. Meets the demand and provides support for new devices and applications
    With DaaS solutions and capabilities, CNI organisations can standardise the process of onboarding new devices and delivering applications, allowing agencies the freedom to test both more easily.
  3. Improves the resilience of desktop environments
    Virtual desktop infrastructure and the tools to manage them are designed with security and resilience in mind and delivered from within a secure government-sanctioned data centre.
  4. Lower long-term computing costs
    The sophisticated management and software delivery tools offered by virtual DaaS solutions remove the need for CNI agencies to invest in, operate or maintain their own desktop IT infrastructure.
  5. Provided on an ‘as-a-service’ model
    Virtual DaaS is a service, which means that no major upfront investment is required and no on premise deployments. Because organisations only pay for what they use, they can easily scale up or down depending on their needs, without concern about features going to waste or not having sufficient capacity to support future requirements.

AUCloud is proud to be a VMware Sovereign Cloud Partner.

Discover how you can benefit with Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)

Switching to a DaaS solution comes with many benefits. If you’re ready to explore the way your business can benefit from DaaS delivered by a trusted cloud services provider, speak to a member of our AUCloud team today! You can call 1800 282 5683 or email sales@australiacloud.com.au.