VDI is heading for a minor DAAS-aster

Desktop-as-a-service is getting good, fast, and can already replace some virtual desktops

Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) services are getting good enough, fast enough, that organisations need to consider them as an alternative to desktop virtualisation (VDI).

So says analyst tribe Gartner in a new emission, Is DaaS Ready for the Enterprise?, in which it answers in the affirmative, certainly for low-end applications, but hedges for other applications. For now.

That hedging is evident from the fact Gartner's its definition of DaaS includes both cloud-delivered desktops like Amazon Web Services' Workspaces and what it's calling server-based-computing-as-a-service (SBCaaS, which is desktops and/or apps delivered from the cloud using technologies like XenApp Cloud, Azure RemoteApp or VMware Horizon Air Apps.

Pure-play DaaS is already handy for things like desktops for temps, the paper says, largely because it requires no capital expenditure.

But VDI has the advantage of a mature ecosystem including lots of management tools. Pure-play DaaS, by contrast, often requires manual intervention – on each cloudy desktop – to do basic admin chores like ensure OS patches are downloaded and installed.

Hence Gartner's liking for SBCaaS, an arrangement it suggests can get applications to users by taking advantage of mature Citrix, VMware or Microsoft environments hosted by cloud providers. You get the app you want – and it's apps, not operating systems that matter – with no infrastructure or capex, and a chance to do the elastic on-demand thing. And some licensing tangles to unpick, although that effort may be worth it as SBCaaS can be attractively-priced.

Gartner's recommendations are to keep a close eye on DaaS, which it says is evolving so fast that one ought not to enter long contracts. Instead, the firm suggests staying abreast of multiple suppliers' products, as many will be introducing services that could meet your needs.

The paper doesn't suggest going all-in on DaaS will be sensible any time soon, not least because even the most robust clouds go down from time to time, but does suggest DaaS is in already the mix, and before long might become a prominent flavour of computing. ®

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