The complexity involved with managing VDI, coupled with the cost of having to buy hardware and software up front, is one reason that VDI hasn't taken off the way that some observers had expected.
"The 'year of desktop virtualization' has been touted for almost a decade," Michael Warrilow, an analyst at Gartner, wrote in a research report in late 2013. In fact, there will never be a "year of desktop virtualization," he predicts. Instead, he anticipates some increased adoption around specific business cases, including giving workers the option to use devices of their choosing or for an easier way to support workers in remote offices.
Still a niche service
All the activity doesn't mean DaaS is for everyone. "It's not something you'd deploy broadly across an entire organization unless you're small," Johnson says. "Or, it's good as a secondary desktop or at the departmental level in a large business."
It's difficult to find examples of large deployments, at least with people willing to talk about their experiences. But smaller businesses rave about the benefits of DaaS.
Take Cardoni Waddell. The CPA firm has 19 people using DaaS offered by Simplified Innovations, a service provider that uses Citrix technology to deliver the offering. "I can't say enough good things about it," says Greg Schuessler, a partner at Cardoni Waddell.
Businesses like Cardoni Waddell are turning to DaaS mainly because it takes the headache out of managing desktops and applications internally, with remote access for workers being a secondary benefit. "We went through a period where we were constantly updating servers, constantly updating desktops. We'd have employees here until all hours of the night trying to update our systems," he explains.
Also, employees can now work from home; that's particularly useful for some employees who live more than an hour away, Schuessler says.
It's not always been a perfect setup. Cardoni Waddell has occasionally had latency issues that slow down users' access to their desktops. The company switched Internet providers, from Verizon to Comcast, and that helped, Schuessler says. In addition, it reports latency issues to Simplified, which has made changes that improve performance, he explains.
Overall, Cardoni Waddell has saved money by switching to DaaS, since it now buys cheaper hardware when replacing user machines. "You don't need that disk space," Schuessler says, of the more expensive computers.
He felt comfortable choosing Simplified as a vendor because its salesman had worked as a CPA previously. "He spoke our language. That was very comforting. He knew the programs we used and he knew how our operations worked with them," he says.
Businesses in vertical industries that require specialized software are good candidates for DaaS, 451 Research's Ottaway says. In fact, he's stopped using the term DaaS, favoring "workspace as a service."
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