What Is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?


Thanks to the widespread adoption of high-speed internet, you no longer need to buy and maintain your own digital tools and infrastructure. Instead, you can access services via the internet without having to meet any hardware requirements on your device.

One of the services gaining popularity and can be of use to both the average and professional consumer is Desktop as a Service (DaaS). But what is DaaS, and how is it useful?

What Is Desktop as a Service and How Does It Work?

DaaS is a cloud-based service that allows the user access to a virtual desktop environment via the internet. The environment is managed by a third-party service provider, providing the user with a complete product.

Instead of having to install a specific operating system on your device—along with meeting its hardware requirements—DaaS keeps the virtual desktop environment separate from your device.

The DaaS provider is responsible for managing the hardware infrastructure and streaming the virtual desktop to your device. It grants you complete access to the desktop’s functionality from apps and features to infrastructure.

DaaS works similarly to other cloud services. The desktop, along with the operating system in use, applications, software, and data are stored remotely on the providing company’s servers.

The company you’re renting the desktop form is responsible for maintaining the hardware, securing any data you save on their cloud physically and digitally, and regularly updating the operating system. To access the desktop environment, all you need is a laptop, PC, or tablet with a reliable internet connection.

With DaaS, you can use multiple operating systems on the same device with no risks. You can also comfortably use software and apps that usually require high computational power and specific hardware as long as you have sufficient bandwidth to support the connection.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure vs. DaaS

Dropbox Server

It can be easy to confuse Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with DaaS. The technology that DaaS uses is identical to VDI. The only difference is who manages the virtual desktops and where they’re based.

With VDI, an individual or a company could virtualize their desktops using an in-house or remote server. As long as the people using the desktops are responsible for managing and maintaining the server, it’s VDI, not DaaS.

The variables between VDI and DaaS can make a difference with a business with dozens of employees. But using VDI as an individual is the same as having multiple devices but with all the extra work of virtualization.

DaaS is when a company takes VDI and rents out parts of it as a service, either in bulk to companies and teams or as single units to individual users.

Types of DaaS

Depending on what you plan on using the virtual desktop for, there are two types of DaaS that work better for different needs.

Non-Persistent Desktop

A non-persistent desktop is a virtual desktop that resets after you log out. Most providers limit it to saving a few settings in your profile and access the data saved online, like your browser bookmarks and files.

Since application data and customization are reset, non-persistent desktops only work if you plan on using the desktop to browse the internet or use software that doesn’t require much setup like Microsoft Office.

Because complex settings aren’t saved and loaded every time you log in, non-persistent desktops load much quicker and cheaper than their persistent counterparts.

Persistent Desktop

In a persistent DaaS, the data and applications you use on your virtual desktop are unique to you and your profile. It’s near-identical to owning a second device but remotely. Every time you log in to a persistent desktop, it’s the same as you’d left it, from data to cookies and system customization and even app settings.

These option suits users that rely on a DaaS for their infrequent work projects or hobbies. If you regularly log in to your DaaS account to work on a project, it’s inefficient to constantly re-calibrate your app settings, like AutoCAD or Photoshop.

Persistent desktops are often more expensive since they exhaust more of the providing company’s resources and takes longer to load, especially if your internet connection isn’t fast enough.

Why Use a DaaS?

A person using a laptop sitting in a cafe

A DaaS solution is often available as a monthly or yearly subscription, along with a set bandwidth and storage that you can upgrade. While the cost can add up in the long run when compared to buying a device, there are multiple benefits to using a DaaS:

  • Security: The DaaS provider protects both hardware and data. Instead of patching together a user-grade security system, you can rely on a team of cybersecurity experts that look after the company’s servers.
  • Scalability: You can increase or decrease your bandwidth month to month depending on the project you’re working on and the computational power you need.
  • Accessibility: With a DaaS, you don’t have to worry about traveling with your expensive PC or laptop everywhere you go. You can instead use a lightweight laptop or any available device to access your online workspace.
  • Initial Cost: While using a DaaS can end up costing you more in the long run, it’s not an investment. This advantage makes a DaaS great for students on a limited budget, people working on short-term, personal projects, and freelancers looking to start working but don’t have enough funds to invest in a powerful PC beforehand.
  • Downtime: No matter how much you take care of your device, there’s bound to be some unexpected downtime that takes time and money to fix. With DaaS, as long as you have a reliable internet connection and subscribe to a reputable DaaS provider, you’re less likely to suffer from downtime as often.

Getting Started With DaaS

As long as you’re used to the operating system in the virtual desktop, there’s no learning curve required to using DaaS. All you need is to find a service provider that works with individual users—Amazon Workspaces, Cloudalize, and VMware Horizon Cloud—and charge by month or hour.

It can take a while to decide whether you need a persistent or non-persistent desktop, but once you identify what you need from a virtual desktop, the rest is up to the service provider.


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