Cloud computing has become one of the most groundbreaking pieces of technology in the recent decade. There are more and more Cloud service companies popping up each year, each with its own respective set of unique services and approach to the Cloud phenomenon. While initially, Cloud services seemed to be in the monopoly of a select few big tech companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, nowadays, more and more middle-ranked companies are joining the fray. Cloud computing itself has many different variations of service, and if you are not a particularly knowledgeable person when it comes to computers and Clouds, choosing between different variations can be difficult. One of the most common questions is about the difference between VDI and DaaS in the case of virtual desktops.
VDI and DaaS are both different methods of Cloud computing which, through different ways, allow the user to access a desktop environment. They are sometimes mistaken for one another. Therefore, in this article, we are looking to go over the difference between VDI and DaaS. First, we will define each of them and go over the advantages and disadvantages of each of them before moving on to compare them and finally decide which one suits your needs the best.
What is DaaS?
First, let’s go over DaaS. DaaS is an acronym that stands for desktop as a service. Similar to PaaS and IaaS, it is one of the preconfigured variations in which Cloud services are presented to clients. As the name implies, a provider of DaaS will provide the clients with a virtual desktop environment that can be accessed through an online connection and is, of course, hosted on the Cloud. These virtual desktop environments are usually licensed using a pay-per-subscription plan.
DaaS boasts a large market value already; according Future Market Insights, it has a market value of over 5 Billion dollars in 2022 and is projected to grow to 17 Billion Dollars in 2029.
The Principal difference between DaaS and a VPS or virtual private server is in the fact that rather than hosting the server on a centralized piece of hardware, it is instead hosted in a decentralized manner, which allows for more resource scalability, faster connection through nodes, and greater security and backup capacity.
There are two different types of DaaS services; these are persistent desktops and non-persistent desktops. The former allows the users to personalize and alter a desktop environment to their liking. These changes will remain in place after the user logs off and will appear again when they come back. This type of DaaS is used much like a remotely accessed computer that you can use every day for daily tasks. Persistent desktops have more resources dedicated to them. Non-persistent desktops, on the other hand, remove all the alterations and changes by the user after each logout. They have much fewer dedicated resources and are useful only for online, one-off tasks which do not require saving and reloading.
Advantages of DaaS
Here, I will quickly go over all the critical advantages that a DaaS plan Cloud service will get you. After I’m done with the advantages, I will move on to the disadvantages so you can get a clear picture of what DaaS as a whole resembles and has to offer.
Reduced Down Time
Generally, DaaS benefits greatly from the Cloud infrastructure, which allows it to remain operational even if a section of the central server suffers from an outage. This is not everything that contributes to this fact, as most DaaS providers can use the Cloud’s inherent scalability to remotely provide IT support and get users out of specific bottlenecks.
DaaS is incredibly flexible as a platform, which allows it to quickly adapt to the specific requirements of each platform or OS and be deployed rather quickly for each of them. This makes it reliable both for the providers, as they can offer more OS-specific services, and for the clients who can use and benefit from each of them.
DaaS is incredibly resource efficient. This means that it does not require a lot of resources for each specific user at a given time, and as a result, it is much cheaper for the provider to offer the service and much cheaper for the user to subscribe to a Cloud DaaS service.
Ease of Use and Speed
All DaaS service packages are preconfigured desktop environments. This means that the entire setup process consists of connecting a new device to the DaaS platform using remote access. This makes it much more desirable over other forms of remote access that can require a ton of configuration.
All the data on each DaaS platform is centrally stored in a safe and secure “data center.” This means that at any given time, if there are security threats against one of your devices, you can easily disconnect it remotely from this central data center and remove all the risks posed by that specific device. You can later access all the data from another device.
Disadvantages of DaaS
Now, let’s go over the disadvantages that DaaS has as a whole. Realizing these disadvantages helps you to have a better understanding of DaaS in general and enables you to make a more conscious choice between DaaS and VDI.
DaaS is generally a preconfigured environment, and while most providers consciously attempt to make their pre-configuration packaged as universally fitting as possible, without a doubt, there will be many that will find certain restrictions of DaaS to be a hindrance. To remedy this, some but not all DaaS providers choose to come up with tailored packages.
Lack of Full Control
DaaS’s inherent quality is that it is preconfigured, as we mentioned several times. This means that it takes care of processes such as security and implementing updates on its own, which means that you will have little say in which anti-malware tools and options you can implement.
While costs were mentioned as an advantage earlier, you have to understand that these costs only may seem low if you constantly use the resources that you have been allocated. If you do not use the package often, you can sometimes see cost spies as a result of unused resources.
DaaS as a whole follows a shared resource scheme, which means that while it does have security and great performance inherently, it also poses dangers to your security via the potentially risky activities of the people who share the DaaS infrastructure with you on the provider’s part.
Regulation and Corporate Limitations
Because the shared resources mentioned above make everything risky to deal with, DaaS providers usually go to great lengths to make the basic structure of the Cloud server as safe as possible, and some of their cautionary acts have to do with corporate policy and restrictions. For example, some of your data may not be allowed in the storage of public clouds, and there is little you can do to change it.
What is VDI?
VDI, which is an acronym for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure more so than being different from DaaS, has in common with it. VDI, as a technology, uses the available means of a virtual machine or VM in order to virtualize a desktop environment for you. VDI hosts usually are centralized servers with high security and operational capacity, which can easily scale their allocated resources up or down depending on the needs of the user. VDI, as a technology, is incredibly versatile, it can easily be enhanced with additional applications on the base level, and it can also be configured to be hosted both on-premise, on the Cloud, as well as in hybrid clouds.
VDI has grown into a massive industry, boasting a total value of over 12.6 Billion Dollars, with an average annual growth of 19%, and is projected to be worth over 33 Billion Dollars in 2028.
Notably, VDI is also self-managed. That means that should you choose to employ a VDI server for your own personal use or business, then all the configuration and management of the server falls under your own responsibilities. This has certain advantages, such as enabling you to set up the server exactly as you want, and also some disadvantages, such as extra steps and additional responsibilities.
Compared to DaaS, it has a greater operational capacity, and it also enables you to do more, but all of this comes at a cost.
Advantages of VDI
Here, I will quickly go over all the critical advantages that a VDI plan Cloud service will get you. After I’m done with the advantages, I will move on to the disadvantages so you can get a clear picture of what VDI as a whole resembles and has to offer.
Almost all VDI packages offered by providers come with dedicated resources, which means that your security and resource allocation will not get jeopardized under any circumstances on account of the activities of another user. All the resources will be exclusive to you and you only, which will boost both security and performance.
Full Operational Control
With VDI, you have full control over every aspect of your server. You can configure whether it is hosted on the Cloud or on-premise, as well as all of its software, hardware, and security configurations. This may make things a bit hard to control, but the rewards definitely outweigh the effort.
Since VDI uses dedicated resources itself, if it is configured on a scalable Cloud server, then it will boast a massive scalability opportunity for users and companies with above-average resource requirements. The process of scaling these resources is also rather quick and additional resources can be deployed in a matter of minutes to help with a sudden need or spike in use.
Much like DaaS is highly secure by the virtue of the fact that all the data is centrally stored on a server. These servers are highly secure and nigh unbreachable, and if the data are in any way under threat by one of the connected devices, then you can quickly take it out of the active connection sphere and secure the server and your data.
VDI is highly configurable and can be customized in order to reflect the needs of the user or the firm that is employing the server. This results in a highly integrated and streamlined experience for the endpoint users, who will get a better user experience out of VDI and will be quicker to respond to any demands and needs over VDI servers compared to other methods.
Disadvantages of VDI
Now, let’s go over the disadvantages that VDI has as a whole. Realizing these disadvantages helps you to have a better understanding of VDI in general and enables you to make a more conscious choice between DaaS and VDI.
While VDI can be potentially beneficial as a long-term, cost-effective remote access cloud solution, it comes with a rather high monetary cost in its setup phase. This is due to the fact that you have to come up with the requirements of the hosting infrastructure such as needed hardware, yourself.
High Learning Curve
VDI does give you a lot of freedom and configurability, as we mentioned above. However, this freedom and flexibility come at a cost. The server is centrally managed; therefore, if you do not have an IT expert or team that can handle the technicalities of setting up and maintaining the server, then you are in for a tough learning experience.
You are going to need a rather robust and capable network in order to access the VDI of your choice with low latency. If not, then chances are when the server is tasked with graphically intensive loading, such as 3D tools and video conferences, it will be overwhelmed, and the latency will skyrocket.
We did mention the steep learning curve of managing a VDI server, and we also mentioned the alternative of hiring an IT expert or even a team. This alternative is not that appealing due to the fact that it imposes additional maintenance costs on you. You also have to pay for any damaged pieces of hardware that need replacing.
Virtual desktop servers that VDI as the platform of choice usually are required to be deployed close to where the actual end users live or work. Otherwise, the latency can be hard to manage. This makes VDI less suitable for decentralized workforces that work around the world, although it arguably makes VDI better for centralized companies focused in one city or region.
Difference Between DaaS and VDI: Head-to-Head Comparison
Now that we have a clear understanding of how VDI and DaaS are defined, as well as their weak and strong points of contention, we are going to make a head-to-head comparison between VDI vs DaaS to see which one is objectively better. However, do note that even if one of them is objectively better than the other, your specific use case may call for the employment of the other option. Therefore I will also make a conclusive section after the comparison to determine the use cases of each of them for different user types. Let’s get right to it!
The first category of comparison is the amount of control that you will be afforded with each of the VDI and DaaS platforms. Usually, VDI servers bring with them much higher control over the server configuration and characteristics for the client. There are many different things that you will have direct control over, such as the monitoring of the server, installed programs, tool selection, data storage options, and access controls.
By contrast, in a DaaS server configuration, all the arrangements are premade by the provider. This is known as a vendor-managed server. Therefore it is important to go for a provider that has packages fitting your needs for a DaaS server.
In general, VDI has a much higher scalability ceiling compared to DaaS. This mostly comes down to the fact that the platform features dedicated resources that can be adjusted immediately to reflect your needs. There will, of course, be the need for a manager or IT team to implement these changes, but as a whole, with VDI, you get dedicated resources that can be adjusted as your needs increase or decrease.
With a DaaS server, you also have this flexibility, but due to the nature of a shared server, upscaling your needs may require you to purchase additional plans, and it can get a bit time-consuming for the move to actually happen.
This is a continuation of the scalability subject but on a grander scale. Tenant variation is the number of people that use a server at a given time. For example, VDI servers are all single tenants; this allows for dedicated resources, tailored servers, and a high level of scalability, as mentioned. It is also more secure and has a more private aura.
On the other hand, DaaS servers have multiple tenants on each server which gives rise to shared resources. DaaS servers are, by default, quite secure, but people who also share the server with you can jeopardize your security via shared IP. Scalability exists, but not to the level of a single-tenant mode such as DaaS.
Costs are another major point of contention between VDI and DaaS. Without a doubt, VDI has much higher costs. The upfront costs of setting up a server, as well as the costs of maintenance, are all part of the centrally managed scheme of a VDI server, although, in a span of a much longer time period, VDI could save some costs depending on the user or client.
DaaS servers, by contrast, have little cost in the setup phase. Despite this, they can incur indirect costs of a shared server depending on the provider, and unused resources will also incur certain monetary costs, which, again, depending on the nature of the client, may cause long-term cost inefficiency. However, in principle, DaaS is much cheaper than VDI.
Ease of Use
There are two aspects to the ease of use category; the first has to do with the difficulty of setup, and the second with the actual user experience. As far as setup goes, VDI has a much more difficult process of configuring and tailoring the specifics of the server to your needs. Whereas DaaS is managed by the vendor and pretty much comes out ready to operate. So in this aspect, DaaS is the winner.
However, once this setup phase is concluded, VDI servers have a much higher degree of personalization and therefore offer a streamlined and integrated experience to the client or the employees of the business that has chosen to use a VDI server for them.
VDI VS DaaS: Which One is Right for You?
The general theme of comparison and difference between VDI and DaaS is quite clear. VDI in general offers a lot more in terms of scalability, flexibility, and user control. However, these additional capacities come at the expense of additional costs, much harder management protocols, as well as personal responsibility for aspects such as security.
DaaS does everything that VDI does on a smaller scale, with less user autonomy and fewer options to customize. Therefore a logical answer to this question would be to go for VDI if you have a lot of resource demand. VDI is great for businesses that are centrally located and constantly scale their demands up and down. These businesses usually have IT squads that can easily handle and manage a VDI server.
By contrast, going for a DaaS server is recommended to users who need a simple remote desktop without much need for huge loads of resources. Students, small businesses, aspiring coders and developers, and small retailers all fall under this category.
It’s obvious that when it comes to the difference between VDI and DaaS, these platforms actually have more in common than differences. They are also like apples and oranges in the fact that they cater to different sections of the online world on rather different scales. Regardless of your choice, one of the methods that can be used to access a VDI or DaaS server is through Microsoft’s RDP or remote desktop protocol.
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Is There a Major Difference between VDI and DaaS?
In principle, no, as they both enable remote desktop access. However, there are a ton of very important differences in details that you should know before choosing one for your needs.
Which One is More Secure, DaaS or VDI?
Both are quite secure by themselves. However, the shared resources in DaaS can make it more prone to certain risks, so VDI has the potential to be safer. However, this is highly situational.
Can you Use RDP to Connect to DaaS and VDI?
With VDI, technically, it can be done, although it is not one of the primary methods; with DaaS, it is both possible and used commonly.