Small- and medium-sized businesses are increasingly relying on technology solutions to streamline their operations while reducing costs for hardware purchase and maintenance. Two popular options that have grown in popularity are virtual desktop (VD) technology and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS). Both markets have experienced consistent growth in recent years, with DaaS reaching $10.6 billion in 2023 and VD reaching $16.17 billion.
At first glance, these solutions may seem similar, as both offer access to a virtual workstation from anywhere. However, delving deeper reveals essential distinctions, especially in terms of management, ownership, and maintenance. This article will break down these differences in simple terms to help you decide which option is right for your organization.
What is a virtual desktop?
Virtual desktop technology — sometimes called virtual desktop infrastructure — allows desktop operating systems to be hosted either on on-site servers, in the cloud, or on a combination of both. This approach grants users remote access to their workstation, files, and applications from any of their devices.
VD technology often best suits organizations in industries with strict data privacy policies and graphics-intensive workloads. In addition, businesses with financial resources, technical resources, and predictable growth tend to benefit the most from VD.
Advantages of a virtual desktop
Using VD comes with multiple benefits, such as:
- Long-term savings: Virtual desktop technology typically involves a substantial initial investment, but over time, it can lower ongoing operational costs.
- Dedicated resources: Virtual desktop setups are often single-tenant, which means you will not be sharing cloud resources such as instances of software, applications, and data storage. This has multiple subsequent benefits, including efficiency, control, and security.
- Streamlined user experience: Because your resources are not shared, users enjoy faster response times and a more efficient overall experience.
- Complete control: In an on-premises VD setup, your organization maintains full control over infrastructure and digital assets, including servers, applications, and data.
- Security: The single-tenant setups of VD are more secure, reducing the risks of malware infections, unauthorized access, and data leakage from other users.
Disadvantages of a virtual desktop
VD has its share of drawbacks, including:
- Steep upfront costs: Setting up the infrastructure for a VD setup requires a large amount of capital investment, especially if you don’t already have the required hardware.
- Specialized technical skill requirements: Managing a VD requires technical expertise, which can be expensive if you have to hire or outsource personnel.
- Scalability issues: DVD involves hardware, making it challenging and expensive to rapidly scale up or down in response to market conditions.
- Continuity and recovery costs: Because VD depends on a single server, network outages can affect every user. This necessitates costly business continuity and disaster recovery measures to ensure your business can resume operations as soon as possible following a crisis.
What is Desktop-as-a-Service?
While a form of VD, DaaS is different in that it operates out of a cloud apparatus provided by a third party. The third party manages the server, hardware, and operating platforms for cloud access by customers. DaaS offers several advantages that synergize with the current demands of remote and hybrid workforces.
DaaS tends to be the favored option among businesses with limited capital investment, mobile workforces, or work from home or hybrid work arrangements. Businesses concerned with maintaining business continuity at all times, even during the worst conditions, may also choose DaaS.
Advantages of DaaS
DaaS comes with its own suite of benefits that set it apart from from VD, including:
- High scalability: DaaS utilizes cloud computing. Because it doesn’t need hardware and infrastructure to run, it can rapidly expand or contract based on demand.
- Lower administrative overhead: DaaS providers handle many administrative tasks, freeing up your IT team for more strategic endeavors.
- Capital savings: DaaS requires minimal upfront investment, promoting flexibility and better cash flow.
- Predictable costs: Subscription-based billing means predictable monthly expenses.
Disadvantages of DaaS
However, just as there are benefits to DaaS, there are also shortcomings, such as:
- Risk of data leaks: With DaaS, you share servers, software, applications, and data storage with other customers. This can make your files susceptible to data leaks even if DaaS providers implement their own security measures.
- Ongoing costs: The ongoing operational expenses of DaaS can accumulate over time.
- Lack of control: DaaS setups are managed by service providers, limiting your control over the physical location of digital assets.
- Regulatory constraints: Some policies or regulations may prohibit storing certain data in third-party-managed environments like public clouds.
Key differences summarized
Before choosing between VD and DaaS for your business, take note of the following areas of difference:
- Multitenant vs. single tenant: DaaS operates on a multitenant model, while VD is typically single-tenant. Each model comes with its own strengths and weaknesses that you will need to weigh as part of your considerations.
- Infrastructure management: DaaS providers handle infrastructure, while VD users manage various aspects of their VD infrastructure, especially when the infrastructure is stored on premises. DaaS spares users the costs and resources of purchasing and maintaining infrastructure, while VD affords more control and security.
- Cost: The cost of DaaS weighs more heavily on operating expenditures, while most VD costs are associated with capital expenditures.
- Digital asset control: DaaS provides less control over digital assets compared to on-premises VD.
- Scalability: DaaS offers high scalability, whereas VD’s scalability can be limited by the underlying physical infrastructure.
The choice between DaaS and VD depends on your organization’s specific needs, resources, and priorities. Understanding these key differences will help you make an informed decision, ensuring that your IT infrastructure aligns with your business objectives and budgetary constraints.
If you want to learn more about DaaS and virtual desktops and which is right for your business, contact us at Liberty Center One today. As a Citrix partner, we have a dedicated team that supports customers with DaaS.