VDI or DaaS – Which Should You Pick?
VDI is to DaaS what a screw is to a nail: Both solutions can be used to achieve similar goals, but they work in different ways and cater to different needs.
If you’re struggling to decide whether VDI or DaaS is the best solution for your business, read on. Below, we walk through the similarities and differences between DaaS and VDI and explain what to pick for which situation.
What is VDI?
VDI, which stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is a technology that hosts virtual desktop sessions on a central server, then allows users to connect to those sessions from remote devices over the local network.
A typical VDI setup involves using Windows Server to host several remote desktop sessions. Then, users who want to access those sessions use a tool like the Windows Remote Desktop client app to connect.
That said, VDI is a generic term. You don’t have to use Windows Server to build VDI infrastructure. You could use a standard Windows desktop machine to host virtual desktop sessions, too, although that approach is less common. You could also build VDI infrastructure using Linux PCs, if your organization prefers Linux over Windows.
What is DaaS?
DaaS stands for Desktop-as-a-Service, a type of solution in which virtual desktop environments run in the cloud, with each environment hosted in a dedicated virtual machine. Users can log into these environments, which are sometimes called cloud desktops, from anywhere on the Internet, not just a local network.
Like VDI, DaaS can be implemented in a variety of ways. Windows-based cloud desktops are most common, but Linux desktops can run in the cloud, too.
There are also different types of clouds that can host cloud desktops. They can run in a general-purpose public cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Or, they could be hosted in a cloud platform dedicated just to DaaS.
Differences between VDI and DaaS
From the end-user’s perspective, VDI and DaaS deliver mostly — but not totally — the same experience. Nonetheless, there are crucial differences between VDI and DaaS:
- Network setup: In a VDI-based environment, virtual desktops are accessed via the local network from devices that are either physically present on the network, or are connected to that network via a VPN. In DaaS, the public Internet provides the network connection between remote devices and virtual desktop environments. Users can typically connect to a DaaS service from anywhere, without having to use a VPN.
- Desktop session type: In VDI, desktop environments run as virtual sessions on the same host operating system. In DaaS, they run as distinct virtual machines. This means that DaaS provides a higher degree of isolation between desktop environments.
- Deployment time: Because VDI infrastructure must be set up on a company’s physical site, it typically takes longer to deploy VDI than a DaaS service, which can be made available in as little as a few hours.
- Scalability: It’s easy to add and remove cloud desktops from a DaaS platform at will. Scaling VDI infrastructure up or down takes longer, because it requires adding or removing physical on-site servers.
- Historical popularity: Although both VDI and DaaS solutions have been available for years, VDI has historically seen higher rates of usage in enterprise environments. DaaS is now becoming very popular as well, however, and may overtake VDI in popularity in the coming years.
VDI vs. DaaS: What to choose when
Again, VDI and DaaS deliver a similar end result: Desktop environments that users can access from remote devices. However, one solution is likely to prove better than the other, depending on the company’s needs.
VDI works best if the following is true:
- Most users will connect to desktop sessions from the local network. Although VDI sessions, as noted above, can be accessed from off-site using VPNs, this adds a layer of complexity that makes VDI less than ideal when the majority of users are off-site.
- Network performance is a priority. Because VDI sessions are delivered over the local network, they generally offer higher rates of bandwidth and faster response times than DaaS. That said, DaaS services running on modern infrastructure are quite responsive, too.
- The business already has servers available to host VDI sessions or is able to make the capital investment necessary to acquire them.
- The risk of disruptions to local infrastructure (due to factors such as loss of power or natural disasters) is minimal.
Meanwhile, DaaS is ideal under the following conditions:
- The business requires dedicated, isolated desktop environments for each user.
- It’s a priority to maintain access to desktop environments even if the business’s local infrastructure is disrupted by events like natural disasters. Because DaaS hosts desktop environments on remote cloud infrastructure, the environments are not harmed by disruptions to local infrastructure.
- Users require a simple, turnkey solution for connecting to their remote desktop environments without having to install special software (like VPN and RDP clients).
- The number of desktop environments that the business requires is likely to fluctuate or grow quickly over time. Because DaaS services are easier to scale, they are a better fit for this situation.
Need help choosing between VDI and DaaS?
Anunta is an experienced provider of both VDI and DaaS solutions. If you’re struggling to decide which approach is the best fit for your business, contact us for expert advice to determine whether VDI or DaaS offers the greatest value for your needs.