Blog post

Can DaaS Replace VDI?

By Mark Lockwood | January 22, 2015 | 3 Comments

In the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”, there is a scene near the end of the film where Thranduil enters and sees Tauriel weeping, leaning over the prone figure of her love interest.  She looks at Thranduil and says, “If this is love, I do not want it.  Take it from me, please!”


Approximately four hours before I saw the movie for the first time, I was on a call with a client who was having extreme difficulty with their VDI environment.  It was not delivering the user experience desired, it was far more difficult to manage than expected, and the cost was sky high.  Near the end of the call, the frustrated architect said to me of VDI: “Make it go away!”  I can safely promise you that, hours later, I was the only person in that theater who was imagining an IT architect hovering over his failed VDI platform, saying to me “If this is VDI, I do not want it.  Take it from me, please!”


You’ve heard it dozens of times: VDI is hard.  It is expensive, more difficult to manage than most expect, and must be cared for expertly to extract appropriate performance.  What can be done about it?  Although there are many tools that can help, both from the VDI vendors and from third parties, a question I hear more and more frequently is about Desktop as a Service.  The question is, when will I be able to utilize DaaS for most or all of my virtual desktop use cases, so I can get out of the VDI business – so I can make it go away?


In my latest research document entitled “Is Desktop as a Service Ready for the Enterprise?“, I tackle exactly that line of questioning.  The document contains details on the differences between VDI and DaaS (features, manageability, technology, and cost), and also includes specifics on how Gartner believes the DaaS market will mature.  Ultimately, though, here is a point I want to make about DaaS as it exists today: it is better than you think it is.


Yes, there are plenty of things missing.  There is the whole problem of disassociating the desktop from the LAN and the data the users need to access.  The DaaS market remains immature, with dozens of vendors providing significantly different variations of a cloud-based virtual desktop.  Integration into on-premises systems is spotty, at best.  Cost varies dramatically between vendors, as do features.  VDI is simply more suitable to a broader range of use cases at this point in time.  That being said, plenty of those issues can be addressed with technology advances, or managed with proper expectations.  The key thing I want to tell potential DaaS customers is that the user experience today is better than most believe it is, and vendors are driving hard to do for the virtual desktop what AWS did for the virtual server.


If you are interested in DaaS, either for new use cases or as a replacement for VDI, I encourage you to read my document and begin testing DaaS offerings.  This market will change rapidly and for the better; even if your testing proves to you that VDI is the correct solution for your use cases, you will benefit from the understanding of DaaS you have gained. Additionally, your DaaS knowledge will help you be ready to answer the DaaS questions that will inevitably come from your business areas and your management in 2015.


Happy New Year, and happy testing!

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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  • Karen Bannan says:

    I wonder: Do you ever see an infrastructure where both flavors will exist — DaaS and VDI? It seems like there are organizations that might like using VDI but shift to DaaS for specific use cases. Also, what abou the organizations that can’t do DaaS due to security or compliance issues?

    Would love to hear your take on that!


    Karen J. Bannan, commenting on behalf of IDG and VMware.

  • Mark Lockwood says:

    Karen – Absolutely, yes. However, the uptake of this hybrid virtual desktop model is completely beholden to the vendors who dominate on-premises VDI; when those tools become fully DaaS-aware and organizations can use one console for both instead of having islands of management, it will be more of an option than it is today.

  • You may be interested in the technology platform we have developed at Cloud DC called OfficeBox. This flagship product of ours delivers a “desktop” style experience by presenting a work space, we don’t present a desktop. OfficeBox streams applications to the work space and by doing so we leapfrog all current VDI and DaaS technology. We have also overcome the SPLA restrictions around Windows Server licensing compatibility and can deliver a multi-tenanted environment at a considerably lower price point because we don’t present a “desktop”.

    We have also been recognized as the only Citrix CSP in the world to deliver the full citrix stack on AWS and sources within Citrix have admitted that our technology is 6-12 months ahead of their own Citrix Workspace Cloud suite.