We’ve had a lot of conversations lately surrounding Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) and how Federal agencies can best leverage this model to support and deploy their desktops. Here are the four most popular questions and our most common responses. Want to discuss further?  Feel free to reach out – Faisal.Iqbal@citrix.com

Why does DaaS matter for Federal Agencies?

The primary difference between Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and VDI is the cost consumption model for the end-user.

In a VDI environment, the government agency procures and integrates all hardware and software needed to create a VDI infrastructure in their Govt/Contractor owned data center. Newer VDI offerings from vendors require up front software investment but provide the ability to “burst” virtual desktops into a public Infrastruture-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud, providing access to an infinite amount of HW resources at utility-computing prices. This new model enables the concept of “hybrid-provisioned VDI desktops” that can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud depending on the use-case and need.

DaaS however is typically consumed in a subscription-based model, allowing for day-one adoption, no up-front integration work and the ability to add users incrementally without expending capital budget.  This ability to “buy by the drink” is extremely attractive to Federal agencies as they look to cut costs, while further enabling agility and mobility – the two key benefits for VDI.

The benefits of DaaS compared to VDI?

DaaS brings all of the traditional benefits of VDI: centralized administration and management, improved security, lower overall operating costs and increased agility. The user gains are potentially equivalent – increased mobility and telework capabilities.  DaaS adds the ability to potentially offload image mgmt. as well as a shift away from capital expenditures (CAPEX).

What are the deployment challenges of Desktop as a Service?

There are a unique set of deployment challenges associated with deploying and consuming a DaaS service. Productivity type applications are easy to build into any DaaS offering, but the integration and management of key Line of Business (LOB) applications is extremely critical. Does the DaaS provider integrate and manage these applications as well? Or does the agency need to augment this DaaS service with administrative personnel for integration?

User perceived performance is crucial. By moving the user’s desktop to the cloud, the user will experience performance issues as the user’s applications have to access data and/or resources that reside in the datacenter. This is caused by introducing latency between the application and data.

By utilizing an on premise DaaS most of these challenges can be overcome.  An example is with the recent evolution of converged infrastructure. Converged infrastructure has driven down space, power and cooling requirements for Desktop Virtualization and VDI — mitigating impacts on datacenter requirements.

 What trends do we anticipate with Desktop as Service in Federal?

Several government agencies have piloted cloud based DaaS solutions and have quickly discovered that it provides users with a “branch office” experience due to the introduction of an extra physical hop between the user and the backend application infrastructure.  Citrix believes that for this reason the majority of government agencies will see to implement an on-premise DaaS model before consuming an off-site cloud-based DaaS offering. On-Premise DaaS brings together the key benefits of VDI and DaaS into a cost effective approach that agencies can consume today in an Operataion Expense (OpEx) model. As government agencies move the majority of their backend infrastructure into an IaaS cloud offering, this will “pull” the need to move the user’s desktop along with it.

We believe the concept of DaaS will eventually expand to include other “Mobile Workspace” components encompassing different uses cases:

  • Windows Applications-as-a-Service for instances where users may not need a full desktop, but only access to specific key applications.Citrix believes DaaS solutions will incorporate other “Mobile Workspace” components encompassing different uses cases such as:
  • Follow-me-data to ensure that document access is available for securely viewing, editing or annotating documents as users move from device to device.
  • MDM-as-a-Service for securing and management of mobile devices that can help to power Mobile Workspaces.

The extensive Citrix Service Provider (CSP) program has been empowering Citrix Channel Partners, Resellers and System Integrators with the technology necessary to deliver Desktop-as-a-Service solutions for over 5 years. Citrix’s extensive global network of over 2600+ DaaS provider partners have been designing and implementing Citrix-based DaaS solutions for commercial enterprises, State and Local and Federal agencies for years.

One of our more strategic Federal On-Premises DaaS  partners is CloudShape — they have extensive experience in providing a managed XenDesktop/XenApp service on a per user/per month basis for Federal Agencies.