Last week at VMworld 2011, I attended a break-out session on DaaS: Beware of falling objects. The session was packed with approximately 600 attendees. The presenter did a quick-show-of-hands poll and found out (surprisingly) that there were hardly any service-providers in the room (about 15 or so). Majority of the attendees were businesses that were interested in getting Desktops-as-a-service (not surprising at all).
So, what is VMware’s story for DaaS ?  Here’s a summary:

  1. VMware recommends using VDI for DaaS and discourages the use “session-based DaaS” i.e., any DaaS solution on top of Microsoft’s RDS (Remote Desktop Services – previously known as Terminal Services). The presenter stated that using “session-based DaaS” is not secure in a multi-tenant environment, giving the analogy of this being the same as you swimming in a pool with a lot of kids – and then asked “so what happens when one of the kids pees in the pool?  Instead wouldn’t it be nice for everyone to have their own personal pool – just for themselves?”  Ya right – but who has the space, plumbing and money for everyone that wants to take a dip in their own personal pool?
  2. Recommend creating a separate deployment of VMware View per tenant – as View is not multi-tenant.
  3. Are in the process of creating a reference architecture for service-provider environments – couldn’t give a time-frame though.
  4. Not all of the VMware components required for DaaS are available under subscription-licensing at present – and again couldn’t provide a time-frame for fixing this.
  5. And lastly, VMware is asking customers to request Microsoft to remove their VDI licensing and deployment restrictions for service providers.

During the Q & A, I asked the presenter to comment on the economics of a VDI-based DaaS approach, with separate deployments of View per tenant. According to their mathematicians, you need 500 users per tenant, in order for this approach to be economical. Considering that the early adopters of DaaS are SMBs, how many of them are going to have 500 users? Our research shows that most SMBs have anywhere from 20-200 employees.

Well, now I know why most service-providers skipped this break-out session. VMware hardly has a DaaS story!

On the contrary, Citrix’s story for DaaS is very complete and compelling:

  1. Citrix recommends providing DaaS using Hosted Shared desktops (with Citrix XenApp on top of Microsoft RDS). These desktops have a Windows 7-like look-n-feel at a fraction of the cost of VDI. To build a secure multi-tenant DaaS environment, you can dedicate a set of servers to a specific tenant. You can further secure your deployment by following Microsoft’s best practices for locking-down RDS hosts. Citrix also provides an automation pack that can help you easily configure a great user experience with the right level of restrictions. Don’t get me wrong – I am not anti-VDI. As a leader in Desktop Virtualization, Citrix’s story includes Hosted VDI, Hosted Shared and other technologies. All I am trying to say is that VDI is not the only solution for DaaS and it is not going to work for all scenarios.
  2. For multi-tenancy, XenApp can be configured appropriately to meet the security requirements of tenants. You don’t need to have one XenApp deployment per tenant.
  3. Our reference architecture for service-providers is already available.
  4. All of the Citrix components needed for DaaS are available with a subscription licensing model via the CSP program.
  5. You don’t need to wait for Microsoft to change their VDI-licensing for service-providers. Using the Citrix CSP program and Microsoft’s SPLA, you can deliver DaaS today.

And, that’s not all. We are working feverishly to build a simple, multi-tenant, cloud-scale management system for DaaS. Come to Synergy Barcelona next month to check it out!