In the cloud and hybrid work era, deciding on virtual desktop approaches — DaaS, DIY, or SaaS — can be tricky. Here, Amitabh Sinha, CEO, Workspot, explores how IT leaders can evaluate the options. He further explores a completely different approach: SaaS Cloud PC. Learn more about the best way to modernize end user computing. Read the full article on Spiceworks.
Within the past few years, cloud computing has seen massive growth as employees worldwide continue to work remotely and in hybrid work environments. Unsurprisingly, we have also seen a significant increase in virtual desktop interest as organizations pivot to support remote workstyles. While most IT leaders had to take immediate steps to support remote work during the pandemic shut-down, many of these measures were mere “band-aids” to address the burning issue. Now, as we settle into a forever-altered business environment, it is time to re-evaluate end-user computing and consider long-term strategies for remote work and digital transformation.
Staying saddled with fleets of physical PCs that pose serious security risks or enduring resource-intensive management overhead of on-premises VDI are obsolete end-user computing strategies in the cloud era. Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions were hosted offerings of legacy VDI delivered by Managed Service Providers. DaaS now gives way to software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery of Cloud PCs, simplifying IT processes, making better use of resources, and fueling productivity with a low-latency user experience.
Breaking With the Status Quo: VDI and Physical PCs Cannot Keep up
For those looking to move away from the complexity and high costs of on-premises Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and the security risks of physical PCs, it is important to understand that there are two types of virtual desktop solutions available today: do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions, and Software-as-a-Service solutions. Here is what you need to know to lead your organization in the right direction.
My first recommendation to IT leaders is to deeply understand the implications of DIY virtual desktop solutions, whether deployed on-premises or in the cloud. The drawbacks of on-premises VDI are well-known, and you may be grappling with them today. While VDI strengthens security, scalability limitations and poor performance for remote end-users have curbed widespread acceptance of this approach. In addition to their on-premises solutions, some vendors offer their own brokers as a hosted service that enables you to deploy virtual desktops in the cloud rather than in an on-premises datacenter. Either way, you are responsible for the care and feeding of your virtual desktops — you own the service level agreement, and the money, skills, and talent needed to successfully deploy, manage and troubleshoot these DIY solutions is much greater than most realize.
Setting aside the steep resource requirements for on-premises virtual desktop deployment, the effort required to successfully deliver cloud-based virtual desktops is substantial as well, and the same scalability and performance problems persist. Even though the virtual desktop broker is hosted by the vendor, there are many components IT teams will still need to manage: compute, storage, networking, profile management, monitoring, and more.
As one can imagine, all this management overhead for DIY cloud desktops requires specialized skill sets, including deep knowledge of both public clouds and VDI that many organizations do not have on hand internally. Even if you have the budget to pay for these skills, finding the right people is difficult. If you are lucky enough to hire the right people to manage your DIY cloud desktops, they will face an additional challenge: public cloud providers constantly change their cloud infrastructure — weekly, daily, and even hourly. Whereas IT can manage change within their on-premises infrastructure, you have no control over cloud provider changes. They can greatly impact your cloud desktops, including availability disruptions and extended downtime. How can you possibly stay in front of this rate of change?
Even though they are cloud-based, DIY cloud desktop solutions bring with them greater security risks, scalability limitations, and latency for remote workers that can stymie productivity — exactly the opposite of what is needed. This leads me to my second recommendation.
Shifting to Modern End User Computing
Given the challenges of DIY virtual desktop solutions, whether on-premises or in the cloud, IT leaders should strongly consider a completely different approach: SaaS Cloud PCs. Unlike DaaS MSPs who use someone else’s technology to provide the service to customers and have little to no control over the product roadmap, SaaS providers can control and optimize all elements of the platform for their customers. System instrumentation that offers deep insight into platform behavior yields opportunities for additional innovation and automation. These insights, in conjunction with direct, ongoing requirements input from customers, are the formula for continuous innovation that quickly delivers the benefits of new features to all customers. The right SaaS Cloud PC solution will do the heavy lifting for you, alleviating IT teams resource-intensive management tasks and enabling the application of those valuable resources to more strategic business areas.
This is not to say that traditional DaaS solutions cannot address specific business needs, especially for smaller organizations that do not have a distributed, mobile workforce. A traditional DaaS solution can work well in that context. However, for large organizations whose employees and contractors are located around the world, it is likely that a SaaS Cloud PC solution will provide the best fit in terms of security, scalability, flexibility and performance while also simplifying IT processes and lowering costs. Modernizing end-user computing should come with strong expectations for success.
Organizational Evaluation Is Key
As you evaluate the options for moving desktop workloads to the cloud, examining three fundamental questions will steer you in the right direction:
1. Do you have the right skill sets in-house to integrate all the moving parts of the DIY virtual desktop technology stack? If not, are you willing to hire them? If so, is this the best use of budget and people?
2. Do you have the tools, people and processes to monitor and optimize cloud desktop costs? TCO in the cloud can vary between cloud regions from the same cloud provider; you will need the right tools and the personnel to determine which capabilities, in which cloud region, and at what cost are the best fit for each of your use cases. These details must be understood ahead of time to avoid unplanned and unpleasant additional costs.
3. Do you have the tools, people, and processes to deliver the best cloud desktop service level agreement (SLA)? For example, what happens when an end-user cannot connect to their Cloud PC or has performance or latency issues? Can you determine the cause, mitigate the impact, and solve the problem quickly with your existing resources? How much downtime is acceptable while you do this?
At the end of the day, when modernizing end-user computing and moving desktop workloads to the cloud, you will choose between a DIY approach or a SaaS Cloud PC solution. Why spend the money, time, and resources building and maintaining a DIY solution when the right Cloud PC vendor can do it better — at lower cost, with instant scalability, Zero Trust Security and outstanding performance – all while relieving your management overhead? For IT leaders looking to lead their organizations into a future that will continue to be uncertain, SaaS Cloud PCs have been proven to deliver maximum uptime at a fraction of the cost of DIY cloud desktops while preparing your organization for both the known and the unknown.