/ Digital Workspaces Guide / Chapter 2: Desktops & App Virtualization

Desktop and application virtualization

As work has moved out of the traditional office space, workers have needed ways to access all of the data, applications, and services available on their work computer out in the world at large. Desktops-as-a-service software has stepped in to make this possible.

Virtual desktop software creates a virtual duplicate of a user’s desktop and operating system (OS) that can be accessed by another device. A key component of digital workspaces, desktop virtualization provides access to everything a user needs from his or her work computer on any computer or mobile device.

Custom image illustrating desktop as a service with a laptop, mobile phone, and notebook.

What is desktop virtualization?

Desktop virtualization is the process of taking creating a software-based copy of a desktop environment and OS that can be accessed away from the office. Virtualization facilitates greater agility and productivity in the workplace as employees have easier access to company resources from any location.

Virtualization models

Desktop virtualization can take several forms, from a cloud-hosted desktop to application virtualization solutions, and more.

What is application virtualization?

Application virtualization is technology that allows users to access applications from computers other than the one on which the app was originally installed.

Although the application is not installed on the computer using it, the app still has full functionality, and the user experience is the same.

What is DaaS?

Desktops-as-a-service (DaaS) provides access to virtual desktops via the cloud to any device at any location. Employees using the DaaS access the virtual desktop wither through a browser or an app downloaded on their device.

DaaS appeals to businesses because it is IT-friendly and scalable. Workstations are easily added or removed as companies grow or employees leave.

There is no need to buy or reconfigure hardware for new employees, simply add new users as needed. Your DaaS provider can also instantly apply updates and upgrades to the virtual desktops.

How does DaaS work?

DaaS is a subscription-based turnkey service that manages virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for businesses who need virtual desktops. Simply sign up and let your provider handle the rest.

Managing VDI decreases some of the heavy lifting involved in the maintenance, security, and data backup of virtual desktops that would otherwise fall on a company’s IT department. Rather than investing money and resources into managing virtual desktops, companies can subscribe to a desktops-as-a-service provider.

Why are businesses turning to DaaS?

DaaS is an exciting technology that addresses concerns regarding the changing workplace and the rise of a distributed workforce. In addition to modernizing the office, DaaS is appealing to businesses for the following reasons:

  • Changing the cost structure: Desktops-as-a-service allows businesses to restructure part of their budget, shifting money that would be spent on hardware to operational spending.
  • Up-to-date technology: Updates to software are performed instantly by the provider rather than waiting for employees to find the time to run updates.
  • Improved cybersecurity: The image of the virtual desktop is not a part of the hardware accessing it, and the VM is secured by the service provider.
  • No geographic limitations: Employees can access files, software, and applications from anywhere—whether they’re at home, traveling for a conference, or in the airport waiting for a flight.
  • Improved accessibility: There is no need for expensive processors to access virtual desktops. Seamless workplace experiences can be accessed from a variety of devices, from laptops to tablets and even some smart phones.
  • Increased productivity: Ease of access and the ability to work from anywhere with internet access allows for greater productivity in the workforce.
  • Agility and responsiveness: New VMs and apps can be easily deployed to all employees. Similarly, outdated applications can be removed in an instant. Users can easily be added or removed as employees are hired or leave the company.
  • Higher lifetime value: A Windows cloud desktop can extend the life of older machines by allowing them to operate from the VM rather than newer applications and software. The subscription requires less money upfront than money spent on computers and hardware.
  • Reduced maintenance: Older computers do not need to be updated, replaced, or repaired as often because running the virtual desktop is far less taxing on older machines than running the latest software.
  • Future-proofing: A switch to remote working at a large scale is well underway and embracing virtual desktop software facilitates the move to a distributed workforce.

What is the difference between DaaS and VDI?

Both virtual desktop infrastructure and desktops-as-a-service are cloud desktop services.

The major difference between DaaS and VDI is that companies manage their own VDI whereas DaaS is managed by a provider.

As a result, DaaS takes the burden of managing your virtual infrastructure off the hands of your IT team but still allows them access to the management interface. Managing VDI can be time-consuming, so this distinction is important.

What is network virtualization in cloud computing?

Network virtualization in cloud computing is the way in which the resources of a network are separated from hardware and made available as software in the cloud. This allows for virtual machines to be accessed by internet-connected devices anywhere.

How does virtual desktop infrastructure work

VDI works by using virtual machines to develop and host virtual desktops which are available to users who request access.

The virtual desktops are housed in VMs on a company’s server and include an operating system (usually Windows). Users must stay connected to the main server in order to access the VMs and virtual desktop environments.

How to use Windows 10 with a virtual desktop

When it comes to virtual desktops and app virtualization, Windows has made the process very user-friendly.

Users can easily add a virtual desktop by right-clicking on any space in the task bar and selecting “Show task view button” from the drop-down menu. Another option is to press the Windows and Tab keys on the keyboard.

From the task view screen, click on the “New desktop” button on the bottom right, and set up your virtual desktop.

Top use cases of DaaS

Desktops-as-a-service is essential for companies looking to remotely deploy cloud-based virtual desktops. But, there are several notable use cases of DaaS, including:

  • Data security: Rather than being stored on individual devices, a company’s data is stored in the secure data center of the DaaS provider.
  • Compliance: Regulated industries, such as medical and finance, can more easily meet regulations by choosing a DaaS provider that complies with security standards.
  • Benchmarking: Benchmarking measures the performance of software or an application on hardware. With DaaS, there aren’t multiple pieces of hardware on which to check performance since the virtual desktop is hosted.
  • Desktop refresh: Desktop refreshes streamline management and reduce risks when new IT is deployed. With DaaS, only one desktop needs to be refreshed rather than all of the desktops for each employee.
  • Endpoint licensing – Rather than licensing an OS such as Windows for every computer in the company, DaaS allows businesses to license a specified amount of virtual machines on each server. If a company needs more VM licenses, it can purchase them.

Examples of successful DaaS adoption

Companies that adopt desktops-as-a-service see several benefits. A few examples of successful DaaS implementation include overcoming challenges such as:

  • Delivering a secured workspace: Cloud providers manage security, upgrades and updates, and data storage and backup. Personal data is kept safe by being copied into the virtual desktop at login and back to the server at logout.
  • Supporting remote or hybrid work environments: A distributed workforce, whether fully or partially remote, can access all data and applications via the virtual desktop.
  • Delivering applications and desktops using a combination of public cloud and on-premises resources: Remote workers can access both SaaS and DaaS from any connected device.
Custom graphic outlining the steps to get started with desktop-as-a-service

How to get started with desktops-as-a-service

Now that you understand the advantages of DaaS, it’s time to know how to get started:

  • Choose a DaaS solution. Find an experienced provider that has expertise in DaaS and data centers in your geographic regions to reduce latency.
  • Activate your DaaS platform. Sign up with your chosen provider and get started.
  • Migrate data into your DaaS solution. Data migration can take a considerable amount of time if you have a lot of data and if your network speed is slow. So, get started immediately.
  • Begin leveraging the Daas system. Start benefiting from data insights and enjoying faster, more secure data integration.


Desktops-as-a-service platforms help businesses address the challenges of an increasingly remote and distributed workforce. A cloud desktop that can be accessed by employees anywhere on any connected device is more important than ever.

Easily migrating to DaaS is an obvious choice for companies that want to enjoy the benefits of greater security, increased flexibility, and lower costs. Choosing the right DaaS provider can make all the difference as businesses look towards the future.


How to use virtual desktops in Windows 10?

Virtual desktops are a built-in feature of Windows 10. To add a virtual desktop, simply right-click an open space on the task bar and select “Show task view button,” or press the Windows and Tab keys on your keyboard. In the bottom right of the task view screen is a “New desktop” button. Click it and you can set up a virtual desktop.

What is network virtualization in cloud computing?

Network virtualization is the uncoupling of network resources from hardware and making them available in software in the cloud. In doing so, virtual machines (VMs) can be accessed from multiple domains.

What is application virtualization?

The best application virtualization software makes it possible for users to access applications from a computer other than the one on which it was originally installed. The application can be used in the same way as it was on the original computer, even by users who don’t understand how to virtualize applications on their own.

How does virtual desktop infrastructure work?

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is technology that uses VMs to create and host virtual desktops and make the desktop environments accessible to users who request access.