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DaaS: the best alternatives for your company

From being an almost exotic value proposal in the IT departments of companies, in the last two years the offer and adoption of desktop solutions as a service (DaaS) has been shot.

As in so many other digital transformation processes, the pandemic has accelerated the implementation of a type of solution that, on the one hand, makes it easier for employees to work remotely and, on the other, offers companies a total guarantee that they will be able to manage your resources and sensitive information safely.

Unlike VDI, which assumes that companies must invest in new hardware in your CPD In order to be able to offer their workers new instances of their desktops each time they require them, in a DaaS scenario it is a provider external to the organization that is in charge of deploying the desktops, normally offering them in a pay-per-use mode.

In addition to greater ease of management, companies that opt ​​for this type of technology have access to other advantages such as guaranteeing greater accessibility to company information (employees just need an Internet connection to be able to work securely), plus scalability (companies can deploy new desktops in two or three clicks), a cost savings (the need to acquire new infrastructure disappears) and a greater security (All desktops are governed by company security policies.)

Of course, this optimistic view of DaaS is opposed by the need for users to have a quality Internet connection, bearing in mind that not being able to connect to the network means that they will not be able to work.

On the other hand, putting something as sensitive as the desktop in the hands of an external provider has another series of drawbacks that we must consider, such as a certain “vendor lock-in” that will cost us to get out of if prices rise or conditions change; the fact that companies in many cases still need to acquire software licenses (for example Windows) or that not all IT personnel have the necessary training or experience to manage this type of environment with agility.

With all of the above in mind, combining DaaS with a more traditional desktop approach can be a great idea in hybrid work scenarios, where not all workers in the company are in a remote work situation at the same time. If we have decided to take the plunge, these are some of the most interesting options that we can consider.

Azure Virtual Desktop

Azure Virtual Desktop is presented as a virtual desktop completely based on the Azure public cloud, reaching users in a SaaS mode.

In Azure Virtual Desktop, users access a full Windows 10 desktop, optimized for Microsoft Apps for Enterprise (formerly known as Office 365 Plus), and accessible from any operating system and device, as long as you have a supported browser.

From the Azure portal, the company’s IT administrator has options such as being able to change network settings, deploy new apps or adjust security settings. However, it is not exactly a simple process and “facing” the management of Azure Virtual Desktop requires having truly expert personnel both in the deployment of virtual desktops and in the configuration of Network and security in the company.

If we have those profiles, Azure Virtual Desktop offers first-rate security and great control over desktops. In exchange, we will have to contract separately both Azure Active Directory, cloud storage and the virtual machines that we want to deploy… All of this makes it a very interesting option in many cases, but also very complex for less expert companies.

Citrix Workspace

A pioneer in facilitating remote work, Citrix has been positioning remote desktop solutions (first in MS-DOS and then Windows) since 1992. With decades of experience in this field, it is therefore not surprising that it reaches companies with a really consolidated solution and, due to its work with Microsoft, that works really well when the “client” computers also have Windows installed.

One of its main advantages is that it facilitates the deployment of end-to-end contextual security policies. To do this, it opts for a zero trust approach, in which users, user groups and the client platform are protected.

To connect remote desktop with your virtualized image, Citrix uses HDX and ICA, two proprietary protocols that optimize network traffic so that the most demanding applications, such as Zoom calls, get the most bandwidth.

Despite this, one of the most common complaints from users of this solution is precisely Workspace’s network width management, which can lead to latency problems on the desktop.

Windows 365 CloudPC

All the complexity found in Azure Virtual Desktop disappears in Windows 365 Cloud PC, the desktop-as-a-service offering that Microsoft debuted a few months ago.

The multinational defines it as “a new category of hybrid personal computing”, which combines the power and security of the cloud with the versatility and simplicity of a PC “to improve the agility and productivity of teams and organizations”.

The company promises that the service will offer “instant start” and a constant experience wherever the user is and from any device, through a web browser and with total security since all files, applications and data will be managed in the service. Microsoft’s Azure storage.

For companies, it is a simpler and more flexible way to operate in virtualization models, without the need for complex implementations, within the reach of even the smallest companies. The main difference with respect to Azure Virtual Desktop is that while in the first what prevails is the flexibility and total control that the company can have, in the second the main orientation is ease of use.

VMware Horizon Cloud

VMware Horizon Cloud allows users to access Microsoft Windows virtual desktops, running them on the cloud solution that the company maintains in the public clouds of its main partners: AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or IBM Cloud.

Compared to other competitors in this segment, VMware decouples desktop and application components and manages them independently. Horizon then reconfigures and “packages” them to give you exactly the virtualized desktop experience you really need.

Thus, when the user logs in, they can find a virtual desktop, which is not part of their profile as a user, counting the applications they need, deployed in different containers, without these applications actually being installed on the virtual machine. From the user’s point of view, it accesses a persistent desktop, but in reality this is deleted when the session is closed, recreating itself from scratch once it is started again.

Amazon WorkSpaces

Without making too much noise, Amazon is also entering the desktop-as-a-service world. It does so with Amazon WorkSpaces, a service that runs on top of an Amazon virtual private cloud.

On this platform, you can run Windows or Linux desktops on a wide variety of virtual hardware and storage configurations. Devices connect to it using the Teradici PC-over-IP (PCoIP) streaming protocol by default, or the new Amazon WorkSpaces (WSP) streaming protocol.

The user can access their virtual desktop from any Windows, Linux or Mac computer, in addition to the main mobile devices. Applications and data are persistent, so you can easily switch between devices without losing information.

Unlike the offers we have seen so far, in which you are billed per user and month, Amazon’s offer is structured around the hours of use… although there is the possibility of accessing a monthly fee if you are the user or the company that provides the Windows license you want to use.

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