A day doesn’t pass that I find myself explaining why DaaS isn’t synonymous with VDI – and neither term does justice to the real range of value possible.

Both end-users and service providers have a preconceived notion that DaaS simply means delivery of a “desktop”. But that simplistic VDI-style mindset (and desktop-only mindset) doesn’t describe the real range of services possible. Rather, the terms we really should be using are “Hosted Workspaces” or “Workspace-as-a-Service“.

So I offer a number of reasons why thinking “Virtual Desktop” = “Desktop-as-a-Service” undervalue what ‘s really possible. 

1. “VDI” is only one infrastructure model of many

VDI has been narrowly defined as a single desktop on a single server being delivered to another system elsewhere on the network. But it doesn’t make particularly efficient use of infrastructure, and doesn’t (necessarily) imply that the deliver mechanism will ensure a high quality user experience. But more important, there are a number of other infrastructure models that make much more efficient use of compute and network infrastructure. Such as when servers, VMs, and even partial windows images are shared.

2. Cloud-hosted desktops include  high-definition graphics and GPU support

No longer does use of VDI mean you get the mediocre visual support in RDS. Modern protocols such as Citrix HDX and HDX-3D mean you get full-fidelity graphics and video – even making use of available CODECs and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) that adjust to bandwidth, latency and media encoding in real-time to optimize the experience.

3. “DaaS” isn’t just a desktop – but provides a la carte apps too

When most people hear “DaaS” they assume what’s being delivered is a full desktop (after all, isn’t that the definition?). But often using a desktop as a container for applications is not necessary. It’s entirely possible to deliver Windows apps outside of the desktop container, as does Citrix XenApp. And when you deliver “a la carte” applications outside of the desktop, that can be considered DaaS, too.

4.  Cloud-hosted desktops include app stores… and Single Sign-On to web apps… and more

Again we have to break free of confined thinking that the cloud-based service you get has to be a single desktop with a login. And that all other apps and web services you regularly consume are accessed and authenticated separately.  For example, Citrix Receiver is the “portal” through which end-users can access a DaaS desktop (if they like) and/or their a la carte DaaS applications (if they prefer). But it’s also a portal through which they can access on-prem, off-prem hosted, and off-prem web services that their IT administration (or hosting provider) provisions. And once the user authenticates against Receiver, they have SSO to ALL of the apps and DTs contain in the Receiver “app store”.

5.  Modern DaaS services now include mobile device management

DaaS no longer means that cloud-hosted desktops (or apps) operate in a sandbox on a device that’s otherwise outside the realm of management.  Today providers have the option to bundle-in Mobile Device Management (MDM) such as XenMobile. That allows for granular control of the device ensuring even better security, compliance and data integrity. So supporting true BYOD programs is now a reality.

6. DaaS now includes follow-me data

Yep. Not just a disk hardwired to your desktop. Rather, you can get true follow-me data across all of your  devices, as well as shared by hosted apps and desktops.  And all centrally administered by the service provider.

So, when a Service Provider – or customer – tells me they want DaaS, the first thing I ask back is “Do you really only want a plain desktop?”