Remote Desktops Go Mainstream

June 8, 2021
Applications

While COVID-19 didn’t create the need for employees and other users to have remote access to their computer desktops ─ whether via virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions or Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) solutions, it did shine a spotlight on the need for remote desktops and virtual workspaces.

For the past several years, the way business is conducted has been changing for many organizations. Companies have increasingly been employing distributed workforces and using BYOD. That has necessitated ways to provide remote employees and those using devices other than on-site, company-provided computers with safe, reliable access to organizational data and software. 

Increasing employee productivity has also been top-of-mind for most businesses. That’s not just a matter of equipping them with the latest and greatest software and collaboration tools. Processes and protocols are necessary to help employees continue to do their jobs even when unforeseen circumstances happen, such as floods, riots, or other events that can keep employees from getting to their worksites.

At the same time, companies have continued to seek ways to cut costs – particularly capital expenditures (CapEx). Eliminating the need for on-premise data centers helps on that front – but is hard to pull off when you must maintain hardware to support in-office workstations and all the associated data, applications, software, storage, and collaboration tools. Plus, there’s considerable IT time associated with that hardware in terms of maintenance, security, power consumption, etc.

When the pandemic hit and many employees had to work from home, these issues and others became even more apparent. While many businesses found ways to get by, those that weathered the changes – and kept operations “business as usual” – were those that were able to implement remote (cloud-based) desktop solutions

Normalizing Remote Desktop Access

Now that things are getting back to “normal,” many organizations are finding that it wasn’t such a bad thing for their business to have staff working from home for many reasons. Or, they’re hearing how their competitors who used remote desktop solutions saw increases in employee productivity while maintaining the same – if not better – levels of security in terms of their data and applications.

As a result, interest in remote desktop solutions is increasing – and there are many options out there. But as is the case with most technology solutions, they’re not all created equal. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and what’s right for one company may not work for another.

So, what do you need to know about remote desktop solutions to determine if they’ll work for your organization? And, importantly, what’s the difference between solutions such as VDI, DaaS, and WaaS?

While the definitions may vary slightly based on the vendor, the following provides a good overview of VDI, DaaS, and WaaS.

Case Study: Transition to Work-from-Home Operations


VDI

VDI deploys a desktop operating system from a virtual machine sitting in a data center. This is done by taking a standard server and creating virtual standalone independent desktop computers within the server. VDI deployments used a single-tenant model with resources dedicated to a single user or organization, so it’s easier to ensure that only authorized users can access data. You specify exactly which tools are used, how systems are monitored, where data is stored, and who has access.

Since VDIs are centrally located, hardware, software, licensing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance and patching are all handled in-house. That requires dedicated staff resources, which takes away from other endeavors, and a certain amount of expertise. On the plus side, the IT department has complete control, and even if access to the internet goes out, work can still get done. Plus, latency is minimal.

VDI does require significant capital expenses (CapEx) for purchasing and upgrading servers and data centers. Once hardware is purchased and configured, companies can start paying down technical debt and don’t have to worry about ongoing subscription costs. For enterprise-grade organizations with predictable growth and resource requirements, the upfront investment may be less expensive than DaaS options.

VDI deployments may take a while to set up and can be difficult to modify once established. For example, scalability is limited by server resources. If you need to scale services up, you must purchase, install, and configure more hardware.  There’s also less freedom to try out different operating systems due to expensive licensing.

One option that enables companies to take advantage of VDI without many of the downsides is Hosted VDI. A good example is US Signal’s Hosted VDI solution, which uses  US Signal’s Hosted Private Cloud (HPC), a single-tenant, highly secure cloud environment, as the host for the VMware Horizon platform. Organizations can use their existing VMware Horizon license or purchase one from US Signal, and securely deliver feature-rich, customized virtual desktops and resource-intensive applications to any device, anytime.

US Signal manages the underlying infrastructure, powered by its single-tenant HPC, SSAE-18 audited data centers, and robust, privately owned fiber network. Meanwhile, customers maintain complete control over their VMware Horizon-based VDI environments.


DaaS

Rather than hosting desktops in an on-premise data center, DaaS uses a cloud-based backend and is provided by a cloud service provider. All that is required for end-user access is the internet and web browser.

Most DaaS solutions are based on multi-tenant models with the service hosted on servers or in data centers shared with other organizations. The services of each client are isolated and only available to that organization, but the resources are dynamically shared. This means other clients’ resource use or security can affect your if services are compromised.

Among the key benefits of DaaS solutions is that there are no capital expenses required. They’re typically subscription-based and charged by the seat. This cost model makes it easier to dynamically scale operations and ensures that you’re only paying for the resources you’re actively using. For organizations with fluctuating requirements or that are anticipating sharp growth, DaaS options may be cheaper.

Another advantage is that the infrastructure is managed by the vendor, so your IT team isn’t responsible for maintenance or management. The provider handles hardware monitoring, upgrades, availability, and troubleshooting. You also get access to technical support from your provider.

Among the downsides of the provider control the infrastructure and many aspects of configuration, monitoring, and data storage is that you may not have visibility into these aspects. 

It’s easier to get started with DaaS deployments as the infrastructure and platform are already configured for you. You simply need to define desktop settings and users. Scaling with DaaS services only involves requesting additional desktop instances or user licenses. You don’t need to purchase or spend time preparing new hardware. Additionally, OS licensing is often built-in to service prices, meaning you can combine or change OS’ as needed.

 

WaaS

While a DaaS solution delivers remote desktops, it may not provide much more. Most DaaS solutions don’t include things like environment management, data backup, or anti-virus. WaaS solutions, on the other hand, are considered “business-ready.” In essence, they deliver a true virtual workspace with everything end-users need to do whatever they’d do on their desktop in an on-premise work environment.

Because WaaS provides the full package, including a virtual desktop in a cloud environment and all the necessary features to run your business, it offers more value for the per-seat cost. US Signal’s Virtual Workspace offering exemplifies this kind of solution. It uses a  Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model, enabling customers to securely and cost-effectively deliver custom desktop environments to wherever their users are and on whatever endpoint they’re using. US

Customers determine what apps to make available, set the policies for user access and can add and delete users as needed. US Signal powers all backend services, including managed backup, remote monitoring and management, managed firewall, and anti-virus.

One of the stand-out features of Virtual Workspace is its SaaS-based management portal that makes it easy to deploy, manage, and optimize virtual workspaces from a centralized location. It enables desktop deployment into logical workflows per cloud best practices and delivers high-performance GPU machines at an affordable cost. Customizable resource scheduling optimizes infrastructure spend. Because it’s SaaS-based, it’s always updated and supported.

 

Investigate Your Options

If you’re interested in learning more about remote desktop and virtual workspace solutions, talk to US Signal. Our solution engineers can walk you through the options, including the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you determine what will work best for your organization.

 

Contact us now. 866.2.SIGNAL or email: [email protected]