Debunking 5 Myths About Cloud-Based DaaS
Written by Alexander Shapero on May 23, 2018
If you have been following desktop virtualization since it first became available, you’ve probably heard the phrase “‘X year‘ will be the year of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)”. If you were an early adopter of VDI, you were probably also among the first the fall into the category of a ‘VDI burn victim’. While VDI had so much promise, early versions suffered from poor performance, and turned out to be more complex and expensive than people thought. In the meantime, the desktops as a service (DaaS) market started taking flight. The fact is that today, cloud-based DaaS solutions can provide all the benefits that on-premises VDI didn’t originally deliver. Yet, DaaS still gets a bad rap as it is often conflated with the early, on-premises VDI horror stories. So, let’s look into common misconceptions about cloud-based DaaS and why it is not only viable, but much cheaper, secure and reliable when delivered from a hyperscale cloud.
Debunking common misconceptions about cloud-based DaaS
- DaaS is not secure: With news of data breaches and leakage surfacing on a seemingly daily basis, security is understandably at top of mind for business leaders. Many are wary about moving sensitive data, systems and desktops to the cloud because they feel that they are losing control over security. This is simply not true. Like traditional VDI, data in a cloud-based DaaS deployment is stored in a secure data center—not on endpoint devices, which are the most vulnerable points in any environment. In addition, hyperscale cloud providers have ample resources to provide: protection against DDoS attacks; automated software patching and updating; sophisticated encryption processes; better backup and DR through highly redundant data centers; and, comprehensive physical security controls in place.
- Cloud-based DaaS won’t save much money: While the initial transition to DaaS will have some upfront costs to implement the environment, the long-term savings are significant. For one, CapEx spending is eliminated on the infrastructure to support virtual desktops as they will be running on cloud infrastructure. Rather than replacing aging endpoints, they can be repurposed to run a virtual desktop. Automated provisioning, orchestration and centralized management saves time and money on administration, and cloud costs can be optimized by spinning resources up or down as needed. Enabling a mobile and remote workforce also increases worker productivity—and, arguably, a company’s profitability.
- Microsoft licensing makes cloud-based DaaS impossible: It’s true that Microsoft licensing hindered the growth of the DaaS market for a long time. However, in recent years, the company has eased up on its restrictions. In addition to buying Software Assurance (SA) licenses, Microsoft used to require a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) for each device a virtual machine was accessed from. They have since changed that policy to a per-user basis, significantly reducing costs for users that access virtual machines on multiple devices. In addition, Microsoft-based virtual desktops were originally only allowed to run dedicated hardware for each customer, but now Windows 10 is allowed to run in a multi-tenant environment. This opened the door to run DaaS on public cloud infrastructure, allowing companies to take advantage of the economies of scale hyperscale clouds can provide.
- DaaS only works with shared, session-based desktops: While this was largely the case in the very early days of DaaS, it is no longer. It’s possible to deliver fully-featured, dedicated desktops that provide a much better and more personalized end user experience as compared to a terminal services session. This is important for users that need to install software locally. Think about web communications or file sharing tools like Skype, DropBox or WebEx in this sense. For example, if a power user needs access to these to do their job effectively, they can be given permission to securely download the applications into their environment.
- Cloud-based DaaS will provide a poor user experience: The overall improvements in VDI software, network bandwidth and latency and the underlying hardware infrastructure the cloud offers have eliminated the bottlenecks that once caused performance problems in early DaaS and VDI offerings. Leveraging the more recent advancements in solid-state drives (SSDs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) that are available from cloud providers also improve the end user experience greatly.
Like any new and innovative technology, both VDI and then DaaS have needed to go through several iterations to become viable solutions. At the same time, hyperscale cloud providers—like Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—can now handle the unique resource demands that virtual desktop environments require. For DaaS, we have created an automated, end-to-end migration, orchestration and management software platform—itopia Cloud Automation Stack (CAS)—that enables companies to not only deploy virtual desktops from GCP, but automate and manage the underlying cloud infrastructure from a single pane of glass. In the end, while the common misconceptions about cloud-based DaaS may have legitimate roots, those are simply no longer true.
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