Desktop as a Service (DaaS) can be an attractive option for your clients. It provides many of the advantages of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) — without the upfront costs. Joseph Evans, product marketing manager at VMware covering VMware’s Desktop as a Service platform, VMware Horizon Cloud, points out that DaaS doesn’t only offer advantages to end users — it can also benefit managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs). “All platform updates and management are taken care of. DaaS takes a lot of complexity out of the equation,” he says. To MSPs or VARs that have shied away from providing this service because they aren’t schooled in infrastructure, Evans says DaaS “removes that burden and allows you to focus on what you do best.”
He adds, however, that although DaaS is simpler to provide than traditional VDI, it’s still a complex technology that takes knowledge and skill to ensure the best user experience. Here are four DaaS best practices to focus on that will ensure the performance and user experiences that your clients demand:
1. Image Management
Evans says performance is the biggest issue that customers have with a DaaS offering, so it’s essential to optimize images for the cloud. Some MSPs and VARs want simply to carry images from on-premises desktops over to the cloud, but that will hinder performance. It’s essential to keep the image as simple as possible — the more you add, the more you have to manage. “We make sure we help our DaaS partners learn to think about the cloud differently than on-prem,” Evans says.
2. A Well-Planned Migration
It’s vital to start a Desktop as a Service migration by understanding your client’s objectives and mapping out their networking needs. Evans says it’s more likely that your clients will want to keep some data on premises rather than immediately migrating everything to the cloud. You’ll need to develop a strategy that optimizes performance when you connect your Desktop as a Service offering to on-premises systems.
Also, recognize that the DaaS offering you choose may support use in different clouds. Evans reminds MSPs and VARs that there are differences among cloud providers’ platforms that you need to take into account when implementing the solution.
You also need to consider your client’s vertical and their compliance requirements when choosing a cloud. The best choice of a cloud platform will differ whether your client is a healthcare organization, retail business, or government agency.
3. Choosing Persistent or Nonpersistent Desktops
When you’re designing DaaS for a client, you have a choice of persistent and nonpersistent desktops.
- Persistent: Each time users log in, they connect to the same virtual desktops that they’ve configured. Anything they do “persists” as they log out and log in.
- Nonpersistent: When a user logs out, nothing is saved. It allows for fewer images, requiring less management, potentially resulting in time and cost savings in the long term.
Evans says for MSPs and VARs new to DaaS, solutions that support persistent desktops may be more straightforward and easier to manage. However, there are clients for which nonpersistent desktops make the most sense. “If the client needs a higher degree of security, you may want nonpersistent. Every time they log out, the machine is essentially wiped away, and a new one comes in at login,” he comments.
4. Support from Day One
Evans says it’s crucial to plan how you will support DaaS and have tools and resources in place when you launch it. “MSPs become tier 1 or tier 2 support for Desktop as a Service solutions,” he says. “Some are just focusing on Day 2 operations and value-added services, and they aren’t prepared to support day-to-day problems.” DaaS best practices include having resources on staff who are educated about the solutions you provide and can effectively help clients with their challenges.
Set the Best Course for Your Business
Evans comments that VMware has numerous partners who have built strong businesses with their Horizon 7 VDI platform. “They’ve built their own Desktop as a Service offering and are successfully delivering it to end users. One of their biggest concerns is the investment they’ve made in infrastructure — they don’t want to give it up,” he says.
However, in some cases — especially with their SMB clients — migrating to a DaaS offering can save a MSP time and money. “There’s a huge advantage to changing,” Evans explains. “Managing infrastructure and data is time-consuming. DaaS reduces overhead related to management and offers the opportunity to make your business more efficient and allow you to spend time on higher-margin value-added services.”