Many businesses are turning to virtual desktops to deliver simpler desktop management, less hardware and increased flexibility and mobility to users. There are a variety of ways to make that happen and you’ve probably noticed there are a confusing assortment of terms being tossed around in reference to virtual desktops such as VDI, hosted desktops and DaaS. It help to understand the differences between these technologies as you evaluate desktop virtualization as a solution for your business.
Virtual desktops explained
Virtualized desktops are an alternative to traditional desktop computing. The theory behind it is that removing the desktop operating system from a local computer and placing it in a shared hosting environment, like an in-house server or cloud hosting data center, will relieve some of the costs associated with desktop support.
Virtualized desktop solutions provide the end user with a virtual PC that looks and behaves exactly like their current PC regardless of the user’s location. The user’s profile and files are stored centrally eliminating the need to maintain files on the PC itself. Virtual desktops offer a more complete desktop disaster recovery strategy as all components are essentially saved in the data center and backed up through traditional redundant maintenance systems.
VDI versus Cloud Hosted Desktops
VDI software gives IT a way to host desktop images in their own data center and present those images to remote end users over a network. The idea is to provide central management and control for provisioning, updating, patching, controlling software and providing computing resources. VDI refers specifically to an architecture that provides every user with a dedicated virtual machine while they are connected. Generally, VDI is considered complex to pilot, deploy and manage. Hosted desktops provide a simpler way to deliver remote access to employees.
Hosted Desktops or DaaS (Desktops as a Service) is the outsourcing of VDI to a third-party service provider and are hosted in the cloud. Typically, cloud-hosted desktops feature multi-tenancy architecture and the service is purchased on a subscription basis. Because cloud-hosted desktops aren’t connected to servers in-house, this approach puts the infrastructure in the hands of the data center hosting the desktops. The cloud provider takes care of resource provisioning, load balancing and network issues; and the business’ IT team takes care of managing the desktops, applications and clients, as well as dealing with remote desktop protocols.
Cloud-hosted desktops can cut costs and complexity of VDI and traditional desktops. If you don’t want to manage endpoints or back-end infrastructure, hosted desktops may be the right choice. In a hosted desktop, many users can be granted virtual desktops from a single virtual machine. Hosted desktops also help SMBs circumvent the up-front costs required to set up a VDI, including any new personnel you might need to manage it. Hosted desktops provide end users the advantages of VDI at the cost of a subscription, which makes it it an especially effective solution for SMBs. DaaS customers are still responsible for managing their own desktop images, applications and security, unless desktop management services are included as a part of the subscription.
However, cloud-hosted desktops don’t have the same control over data that it does in an in-house VDI environment. With cloud-hosted desktops in the hands of a provider, it’s harder to personalize the end-user environment. With VDI, admins can customize virtual desktop configurations and personalize users’ endpoints — to a certain degree.
Businesses looking for a low-cost, highly scalable desktop delivery model should look to cloud-hosted desktops (DaaS) as an alternative to a full-fledged VDI to reap some major benefits. If you do not have a lot of technical expertise, and knowledge in compliance with licensing and technical regulations, we highly recommend working with an outside IT consultant.
ACE IT Solutions delivers a portfolio of best-of-breed cloud computing solutions that are secure, cost-effective and flexible enough to meet the specific needs of any business. Contact us at 646.558.5575 or email to learn more about our hosted desktop solutions.