In the modern world of remote work, brands are racing to implement reliable virtualized desktops that offer complete control, a productive user experience, and the best security.
With so many remote desktop services to choose from (be them onsite or cloud service providers), it can be overwhelming to find the right hosted desktop method.
Two major players in this arena are VDI and DaaS.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (AKA: VDI technology) allows users to establish virtual machines (VMs) as an on-premise or cloud-hosted option.
Desktop as a Service (AKA: DaaS systems) also provide virtual desktop users with onsite and cloud-based services. While DaaS solutions offer the same technology, they’re a virtual desktop infrastructure managed by cloud providers.
Below we’ll review and describe the most important differences between DaaS (desktop as a service) vs VDI. Some of what we’ll go over includes: Architecture, Platforms, Control, Pricing, Speed, Flexibility.
By the end of this article, readers will have a much greater understanding of these two tools, allowing them to make the best selection for their organization.
What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure allows users to transmit desktops using virtual machines (VMs). These VMs are hosted either in a cloud or on site. VDI-style virtual machines are then controlled from one central server, deploying to end-users operating client machines.
Traditionally referred to as end-user computing (EUC), this virtualization procedure was popularized by VMware, which normalized the term “VDI”.
VDI is a budget-friendly option for organizations with a high-volume of employees. This is particularly true for IT departments that deploy shared or pooled virtual desktops that lower a company’s overall number of desktops.
Since the technology must work harder than a cloud would, the price for VDI is more expensive.
VDI also offers a simple and straight-forward management style that allows IT departments and users to share their virtual desktop quickly and easily.
This virtual desktop method could result in higher volumes of help requests from end-users who struggle with connectivity issues, or those who aren’t familiar with the software.
It also demands a great deal of support from the IT department—as they’ll customize the virtual desktop environment. These tech professionals also need to make updates and manage incoming and outgoing data.
Network connectivity must also be considered when using VDI, because it can be quite inefficient and slow without a strong and reliable connection.
What Is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?
DaaS is like VDI, but functions as a managed service via cloud vendors. With DaaS, virtual desktops are hosted on a managed cloud platform, delivering the service remotely. Services can then merge with cloud providers’ additional services. All of which is billed on a subscription-style basis.
DaaS provides businesses with VDI capabilities on a subscription-based plan. DaaS also entails a much easier deployment process since users don’t have to construct desktop computers in-house.
DaaS struggles when it comes to connectivity, but being that the IT team has smaller insight into the network, they’re fully dependent on the provider's abilities and schedule.
DaaS providers usually manage numerous issues (like connectivity), whereas IT acts as a user account administrator. DaaS also makes it incredibly easy to scale since IT teams can manage subscriptions and negate the need to make changes to the onsite desktop virtualization infrastructure.
IT usually holds less power when it comes to security and updates.
How to Choose Between VDI vs. DaaS?
When it comes to desktop as a service (DaaS) vs VDI desktop virtualization, the tool you select will rely heavily upon the end-users needs, the capabilities of your company, and your organization’s unique goals.
Below you’ll find a table displaying the five major differences between VDI and DaaS.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
• Build Your Own (BYO). Internal manpower and expertise required to create/update systems
• ‘VDI platform’ handles majority of setup and maintenance
• Yearly manual updates
• Around a long time so it’s tested and proven
• Doesn’t need an internet connection
• Automatic weekly updates
• CapEx consumption model
• OpEx or CapEx/OpEx options
• Local region, co-location/datacenter
• All available global cloud regions leverage onsite infrastructure in hybrid cloud workload environment
• Medium deployment time
• Fast deployment time
• Requires most of its support from IT team to customize virtual desktop environments
• Struggles with connectivity
Single-tenant vs multi-tenant
• Based on the single-tenant model. Resources dedicated to only one organization/user
• (Most) developed with multi-tenant models. Meaning services are hosted on servers/data centers and distributed with other organizations
Being that another entity is responsible for the broker, users relinquish some control when using DaaS. This also means internet connectivity is required to access control planes.
These are important factors to consider when implementing DaaS.
One possible pro to DaaS is fast update cycles — meaning the DaaS solution you choose could improve weekly. DaaS is a new technology supporting numerous similar use cases to VDI. Since it utilizes worldwide datacenter scale, and flexible infrastructure subscription plans, it even unlocks even more solutions.
VDI means your team is responsible for platform updates (including safe network services). Newer VDI platform versions only deploy yearly. Possible advantages to VDI lie in its maturity. Virtual Desktop Infrastructures are tested and proven solutions with a base of almost 300,000 user sessions.
VDI is a better option if your goal revolves around establishing an environment where you maintain total control over brokers, locality, security, and more.
For example: For those in highly-regulated industry (or must run a virtual applications/desktop without connections or cloud-dependency.
One of the most frequent and understandable concerns when choosing a virtual desktop solution is the price. When it comes to VDI, the initial investment can be costly due to infrastructure, scaling, and refreshers. This pricing model is referred to as Capital Expense (CapEx).
Alternatively, DaaS provides more flexibility when it comes to implemention costs. Because everything takes place in a cloud, the Operating Expense (OpEx) model is the replacement. In some circumstances, users can run a portion or all of their desktops/programs in the cloud, or they have the option of onsite infrastructure blended with a cloud-based broker.
Thus combining the CapEx and OpEx model.
For those with clearly-defined and predictable usage patterns and growth (and don’t suffer resource constraints), VDI — or DaaS running onsite user applications/desktops — yield the most cost-efficient solutions.
DassS is a great option if your organization demands more flexibility and has preexisting usage patterns.
For example: To accommodate temporary workers (like contract or seasonal), using DaaS is the right way to go. With DaaS, users can provide additional seats when necessary, and only pay on them when they’re actively used — this avoids wasted capital.
If time is the most pressing factor, DaaS also offers a quick and deployment process. As one example, customers usually run Xi Frame within hours — or a few days at most.
Staying up-to-date on technology trends with DaaS is equally convenient (even keeping up with software innovations and advancements in CPU/GPU hardware).
On the other hand, VDI requires a great deal more time to upgrade software, and budget limitations may impact refresh cycles.
Single-tenant vs multi-tenant
VDI deployments function on a single-tenant model. This model means that resources are strictly dedicated to only one organization/user.
While it limits some potential flexibility, VDI offers total control over how resources are configured and distributed. Additionally, single-tenant models prevent other users’ resources impacting your deployment processes.
Adversely, most DaaS services run on the multi-tenant model. Multi-tenant models have your service hosted via a data center or server, and then resources are distributed from there.
Each client’s services are thoroughly isolated, making them only accessible to the specific organization. However, the resources are shared dynamically, meaning that resources and security compromised on other clients won’t effect your services.
Regarding the IT team, be sure to ask if the resources, expertise (and/or the enthusiasm to learn VDI) is available. Otherwise, it may be smart to intake virtual apps and desktops as services.
All virtual desktops and applications require brokers (AKA a control plane) to manage processes like providing users with secure access to appropriate resources. Brokers also manage infrastructure orchestration, remote display traffic, capacity management, and much more.
Using VDI means your resident EUC team manages and oversees designing, installing, securing, and administrating the entire platform. This includes the broker (control pane) — which has a great deal of complexity. The control plane for DaaS, alternatively, is handled by the actual DaaS provider.
For those lacking the team or expertise required to manage VDI, or you can only support use cases via cloud resources — or you just don’t have the time/flexibility to figure all of that out, DaaS will be the better option for you.
Users are able to fully control configuration, infrastructure, and data with VDI — and since VDI relies on the single-tenant model, protecting data from unauthorized use is much easier. This is because administrators can specify system monitoring protocols, where data gets stored, who can access it — and even which tools are available for use.
DaaS allows users to control the infrastructure, most of the configuration, data storage, and monitoring. Reliant on who the provider is, users may lack access/view of these elements. DaaS also requires an internet/network connection, which means it’s innately at a higher risk for data and cyber-attacks.
Choosing Between VDi and DaaS
We hope this detailed guide has given you the insight necessary to choose between DaaS and VDI for your organization. Both methods offer a variety of benefits, and are most effective when implemented thoughtfully and with the enterprise’s specific goals in mind.
VDI tends to be a better option (for many but not all) for large-scale organizations with the manpower and capital to invest. However, DaaS also provides flexibility and speed that allows for quick expansion and scalability.
With pros and cons to both, you must audit your own team and resources to determine exactly what you want to achieve with virtual desktop implementation. Take time to consider your size, expertise, resources, and growth speed — and determine which option will become clear.