DaaS Is Back in Fashion

Image credit: iStockphoto/ajijchan

It doesn’t take technology vendors long to catch onto trends. And as the whole nature of work has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not far behind.

Some changes, such as employee monitoring and surveillance and remote working tools, have been well documented. But others have been creeping up and gaining momentum as the changes have gone on and become more entrenched.

One trend identified by analyst group Gartner has given us fresh reasons to use another “as a service” acronym: DaaS or Desktop as a Service.

DaaS gets a shot in the arm

DaaS securely delivers virtual apps to employee desktops from the cloud to any device or location. It uses the same pay-as-you-go subscription model that other “as a service” providers offer.

According to Gartner, DaaS implementations saw a major uptick during the pandemic. It is forecasting that the number of DaaS users will grow by over 150% in the period through to 2023.

DaaS adoption helps that around 62% of smaller businesses are already using cloud-based services of some kind because they are easier to access, more secure, and reliable.

That number is only ever likely to increase. With workers dispersed, it makes much more sense for organizations to have apps and data stores in the cloud, where risks of theft, loss, or damage can be minimized.

In the past, DaaS was deployed as a cost-saving measure for organizations. But Gartner estimates it failed 80% of the time.

But times have changed, and the pandemic created a sudden and unforeseen need to keep people working at home and contributing effectively. Now DaaS is not just about cost but also flexibility and performance.

The shift in IT infrastructure planning

Simon Lockington, the senior director of global solutions architecture at Equinix, observes a broader trend: remote working is prompting a significant shift in the way organizations plan their IT infrastructure.

“The bandwidth constraints that were previously considered ok, with 10 to 20% of workers working remotely are not suitable now, and people have had to ramp things up,” says Lockington.

“Many existing licenses did not allow remote access, and now people are building in remote licenses to agreements as part of their architecture design. Previously, the architecture just needed to facilitate people dialing in after-hours, or when they were on holiday, now it needs to facilitate that 24/7 for 80 to 100% of the workforce.”

With workforces using a range of devices, DaaS provides a secure and scalable solution — even if the budgetary implication was to move it from capital to operational expenditure.

SMBs to reap the benefits

Desktop provider Citrix has also weighed into the debate. It released a whitepaper on the subject, focusing on DaaS for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).  

Citrix estimates that DaaS is growing at close to 50% compound growth annually. It says that with most of the workforce now working remotely, the current top three IT challenges for SMBs are security, infrastructure maintenance, and budget constraints.

The trend has seen Citrix partner with Microsoft to offer a fully managed cloud-hosted virtual desktop solution.

“Instead of using a fully independent virtual desktop, businesses may be able to implement DaaS to help with some of these challenges,” Citrix says.

A look at the workforce in 2021 shows that often they are temporary or working remotely. Organizations need to scale their headcount up and down in response to different circumstances and the day of the 24/7 organization has well and truly arrived.

DaaS guidelines

DaaS presents as a solution to many of the above changes, but Gartner has some rules for organizations to get the best results.

First of all, identify the right audience.

“Segment the user base by job function and location to correctly identify candidate use cases for desktop virtualization and application virtualization” is the Gartner advice.

Then, focus on security. It can be achieved by optimizing the management of highly distributed endpoints by “prioritizing thin-client architectures” for desk-based workers.

And finally, extend the use of DaaS beyond business continuity.

“Improve the onboarding process by using desktop virtualization to increase the speed and lower the cost of onboarding workers,” Gartner advises.

Take this advice, and DaaS can be more than a budgetary saving. It can be a driver of agility and productivity in the time of the new normal.

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and HR&DigitalTrends and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/ajijchan