• 5 min read

What is desktop as a service (DaaS) and how can it help your organization?

Learn what desktop as a service (DaaS) is and how to enable remote work, simplify desktop management, and optimize IT costs with it.

Today’s workers want the freedom to respond to email and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere, on any device—whether they’re working at their kitchen table, at the airport waiting for their flight to board, or in the carpool line waiting for their kids to get out of school. The pandemic proved that remote teams could succeed, no matter where they worked and how far-flung they were.

Even so, many companies are still scrambling to accommodate the technological needs of their hybrid and remote workers. Desktop as a service, sometimes known by the acronym DaaS, can help.

What is desktop as a service (DaaS)?

DaaS is a high-performing, secure, cost-effective type of desktop virtualization. DaaS frees businesses from tethering their computer operating systems and productivity software to any physical hardware. Instead, businesses can use DaaS to access virtual desktops over the internet from a cloud provider. Cloud providers that offer this service distribute and manage virtual desktops from their own datacenters. 

DaaS vs. on-premises

DaaS solutions differ from on-premises software in a number of ways, most notably:

Pricing. With DaaS, companies can avoid making advance purchases of hardware that they anticipate their employees needing, such as expensive desktops and laptops. Instead, companies pay cloud providers only for the data, resources, and services that they use.

Scalability. Cloud providers offer companies the freedom to use any amount of desktops on a fluctuating basis. This gives companies instant access to the precise number of desktops they need, whenever and wherever they need them.

Management. Cloud providers offering DaaS conduct maintenance, data storage, updates, backup, and other desktop management for companies that outsource these solutions. DaaS providers often manage their customers’ desktops, applications, and security as well.

What are the benefits of DaaS?

The financial, performance, and administrative benefits of using DaaS are numerous. Let’s look at some of the biggest reasons businesses use this type of desktop virtualization.

Enables remote work. The rise of hybrid and remote workplaces calls for a different approach to accessing applications and data. With DaaS, IT teams can easily move data between different platforms and users can easily access the data they need from multiple machines, no matter where they work.

Supports BYOD. Besides freeing employees from physical offices, DaaS can free employees from solely working on company-issued devices or with one particular device. With DaaS, IT teams can more easily support bring your own device, or BYOD, policies that let employees work on their own phones, tablets, and laptops.

Simplifies desktop management. For IT teams, outsourcing the deployment, configuration, and management of virtual desktops helps reduce the administrative load. The ability to quickly scale up or down the use of desktops, applications, and data based on user need also helps to ease IT duties.

Helps increase security. DaaS poses fewer security risks because the data resides in the cloud provider’s datacenter, not on the laptops, tablets, and phones that employees use. If a computer or device is lost or stolen, it can easily be disconnected from the cloud service.

Reduces IT costs. DaaS solutions save businesses money by shifting IT costs from traditional on-premises hardware and software purchased up front and in bulk to cloud-based services and desktops purchased as needed. DaaS can run on devices that require far less computing power than a standard laptop or desktop machine, which helps companies save money. Allowing employees to use their own devices also helps save on hardware costs, as does reducing the workload of IT teams.

Extends the life of legacy machines. Companies that lack the immediate funds to upgrade all of their outdated machines can use DaaS to install a newer operating system on them. Serving the newer operating system from the cloud is a more affordable prospect than replacing an entire fleet of on-premises equipment all at once.

Real-world uses for DaaS

Cloud providers usually offer two flavors of DaaS, persistent desktop and nonpersistent desktop:

  • Persistent desktop offers the greatest degree of application compatibility and personalization and is necessary for users that require elevated permissions. This usually results in a higher cost per user than a nonpersistent desktop. A persistent desktop is a good fit for developers and IT professionals.
  • Nonpersistent desktop offers the lowest cost solution by separating the personalization layer from the underlying operating system. This enables any user to log onto any virtual machine (VM) and maintain a personalized environment. This option is a good fit for knowledge workers and task workers.

We’ve already looked at how DaaS benefits remote and hybrid workforces, BYOD programs, and companies looking to optimize their IT assets and costs. But there are many other business uses for DaaS, including:

  • Modernizing call centers. Organizations with shift workers who require the same software to do task-based work can optimize IT resources by using nonpersistent desktops and remote applications.
  • Accelerating deployment and decommissioning. Nonpersistent desktops can help seasonal businesses that routinely undergo staffing fluctuations reduce the time and costs associated with deploying and decommissioning desktop users.
  • Granting contractors and partners secure data access. Companies can increase the login security of their contractors, vendors, and business partners by enabling them to work on virtual desktops from their own devices.
  • Ensuring business continuity. Companies can help safeguard their data against natural disasters and other threats to daily operations by outsourcing desktop management to cloud providers that offer airtight data protection at remote datacenters.
  • Increasing sustainability. By using cloud-based virtual desktops to reduce the amount of hardware used onsite, businesses can decrease their power consumption and electronic waste, thus reducing their environmental impact.

Explore the flexibility of Azure Virtual Desktop

Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and application solution that enables your remote workforce to stay productive regardless of location or device—all while being secure, scalable, and cost-effective. With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can:

Deliver Windows 10 and Windows 11 desktops virtually anywhere. Give employees the only virtual desktop solution that’s fully optimized for Windows 10, Windows 11, and Microsoft 365 with multisession capabilities—no matter what device they’re using, no matter where they’re using it.

Keep your applications and data secure and compliant. Use the built-in, reliable security features of Azure to stay ahead of potential threats and take remedial action against breaches.

Simplify deployment and management. The Azure portal enables you to configure your network settings, add users, deploy desktops and applications, and enable security with just a few clicks. Citrix and VMware customers also can streamline the delivery of virtual desktops and applications with Azure.

Reduce costs with multisession and existing licenses. Optimize costs with the eligible Microsoft 365 or Windows licenses that you already have. Use Windows 10 and Windows 11 multisession support to reduce infrastructure costs. Plus, take advantage of flexible, consumption-based pricing to pay for only what you use.

To explore how to get started with Azure Virtual Desktop, read the Quickstart Guide to Azure Virtual Desktop. In it, you’ll find:

  • Guidance on planning a successful deployment of Azure Virtual Desktop.
  • Steps to set up and optimize your virtual desktops with just a few clicks.
  • Best practices, recommendations, and troubleshooting tips.

If you’d like to continue your exploration of Azure: