Update: This article was last updated on 10th November 2021 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.

A lot of people seem confused about the terms – DaaS and VDI and often use them interchangeably. If you are looking to get a virtualized desktop environment for your office, you too must have tried to research on the Internet about the difference between the two.

The fact of the matter is that the differences between DaaS and VDI are not many. Both are forms of desktop virtualization that help you access the virtual desktop remotely with portable end-point devices. Both are highly scalable and cater to the requirement of thousands of desktops.

DaaS and VDI: How Are They Different?There are various companies in the market, offering both VDI and DaaS solutions, which include giants such as VMware, Citrix, HP, and Microsoft. For instance, VMware offers VDI as well as DaaS solutions in the name of Horizon 7 and Horizon DaaS, respectively.

So, how do they differ? Let us first talk about the fundamental difference between the two.

What Is VDI?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution is the technology that enables the creation of virtual desktops on remote server setup. This is made possible through desktop virtualization on a single or group of servers.

VDI breaks the shackles of local desktops and offers users with the ability to access their desktops even after leaving the office premises. You can access the virtual desktops from a thin client or even your smartphones.

Recommended Reading: What Is VDI And How Does It Work?

VDI can be deployed on your office premises, or you can host it in data centers – It’s your choice. But what’ the catch? The thing with VDI deployment is that you are responsible for handling all the IT-related issues that may befall on you. Hence, any task from hardware replacement to upgrades is your responsibility.

What Is DaaS?

Imagine that you get all the benefits of VDI without all the hassles and costs related to its deployment. Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offers you just that. It is a cloud-based service under which the third-party service providers provide their customers with VDI-based virtual desktops over the cloud.

There are various DaaS providers available in the market that offer different pricing plans according to the number of desktops, type of configuration, etc.

So, if you are looking to transform your office into a virtual desktop environment, what should you choose? Let us ponder over some of the points to make things clear.

Recommended Reading: What,How, and Why of Desktop as a service(DaaS)

VDI vs DaaS: Top 7 Differences


1. Single-Tenant vs. Multi-tenant

VDI is a single tenant model, which means that it is deployed to cater to one user. The single user can be as large as an entire organization with 500 desktops. A company that wants to move its desktop environment to a virtual space can acquire the VDI from any vendor available in the market.

VDI technology is primarily chosen by an organization that wants complete control over its hardware infrastructure and server resources.

DaaS, as mentioned, is a cloud-based delivery model, which facilitates multi-tenant hosting. Hence, various users from different geographies or type of industries can get virtual desktops from the service provider.

All of them are hosted under the same cloud environment, but each user can work in their separate cloud space. The users are provided with a central management portal to handle the desktops, but the overall control of the hardware stays with the provider.

2. Cost of Deployment

When you are thinking about VDI or DaaS for your business, it is always wise to consider all the underlying costs.

VDI deployment involves the installation of high-end hardware to start with. The hardware defines the performance of VDI as the end-point devices are for the sole reason of accessing the desktops.

The next step is to find a suitable physical space for the hardware setup. If the VDI is deployed in-house, other associated costs like power and cooling should also be considered. Moreover, you have to purchase the VDI management portal from the vendor. Citrix XenDesktop is one such software that comes to mind.

Recommended Reading: VDI Pricing

In the case of DaaS, as the entire virtual desktop environment is made available to you by the service provider, you do not have to worry about deployment. Moreover, the DaaS provider is also responsible for the maintenance of the IT infrastructure and hardware upgrades.

You just have to pay a monthly fee to the provider, which includes all the associated costs. Although some DaaS providers can ask for a hefty monthly fee, there are some that offer cost-efficient services.

Learn more about Factors on which Hosted VDI pricing depends

3. Managing The VDI

One of the primary aspects that differentiate VDI technology from DaaS is the managed services that DaaS providers offer. When we talk about VDI, everything from deployment to maintenance is to be looked after by your local IT team.

Ask any IT professional, and he will tell you its not an easy task. Not to mention the working hours that get utilized in maintaining the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

DaaS, however, is a completely managed service. Practically speaking, you have to pay for the DaaS service and forget about the rest. Your scaling request is handled by the provider easily without you having to replace the hardware manually. Most DaaS providers offer round the clock customer support for a swift resolution of your issues.

4. The Ability to Opt Out

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is a one-time investment model in which you put in a large sum of revenue in the deployment. Moreover, there are other recurring costs related to IT maintenance and upgrade.

There can be circumstances under which you have to opt out of using VDI like completely shifting your process to a different country or shutting down your operations. However, once you have invested a considerable part of your budget in it, there is no way of backing out.

Desktop as a Service gives you the ability to select only the required number of desktops and services you want. If you do not feel like availing for DaaS, you can stop using the services altogether.

Some DaaS providers have a minimum duration of the contract in the SLA. Hence, you should inquire with the service provider about the same.

5. Security Concerns

Security is one of the aspects most focused on by any organization, whether they are using local desktops, in-house VDI, or DaaS. It depends on the organization and the type of data it is dealing with.

Some organizations deal with critical and confidential data and want to hold it close to their chest. In such cases, they prefer in-house VDI as they can handle every aspect of it, including the backend. However, they have to take extra security measures to ensure optimum security for their data.

The DaaS providers, on the other hand, deploy security measures like multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and intrusion detection to ensure the security of your data.

6. Implementing Business Continuity

Business Continuity is a set of procedures and protocols to ensure that the business is functional 24/7. It is a proactive approach to ensure total preparedness during the event of a crisis. Business continuity, along with disaster recovery, is implemented by organizations to protect their data, even in the case of a disaster.

You can implement business continuity in your on-premise VDI, but it involves the formation of a dedicated team, which is a hassle in itself. Moreover, the team will have to identify all types of risks and methods to mitigate them.

Why go through all this headache when you can choose a DaaS service provider that already implements business continuity and disaster recovery plans as a part of their services.

7. Data Backup

Be it VDI or DaaS, backing up your data is vital to achieving business continuity. Moreover, if the data gets compromised or hampered by a cyberattack, you should always have copies of it to fall back to.

In the case of VDI, the backup servers have to be deployed, either on an external data center or on premises. This leads to additional costs and one more thing for you to manage.

On the contrary, many DaaS providers automatically backup the data on redundant servers to ensure swift recovery in case of any crisis.

DaaS vs VDI: Use Cases

DaaS and VDI have some common use cases like remote working, BYOD, and mobility in work. Other than this, let’s have a look at the difference in practical use cases of both.

Running High Graphic Apps

Running a graphical application in VDI could be more complex as it requires high-end hardware in your office premises. In contrast, DaaS providers offer you ready-to-use virtual desktops with built-in graphic cards on their cloud infra as per your requirement.

With DaaS, you can directly access your design or development apps from your personal device without spending huge amounts on hardware. Hence, if you are a small and medium-sized company, you can save considerably with DaaS.

Temporary Workers

In companies, many employees work on a contractual or freelance basis. Giving these employees an on-premise VDI system may become time-consuming because your IT team has to manage the complexities of creating virtual desktops.

If you are a large enterprise, you may have resources to manage the deployment time and again without worrying about the cost. However, a medium enterprise may not be able to bear the cost of every time deployment. In this case, DaaS providers help you with scalable solutions to onboard any employee in significantly less time and that too in nominal monthly pricing.

Business Transformation

With on-premise VDI, serving a massive workforce with the designated tools and apps may become a challenge. However, DaaS allows you to have the utmost resource optimization. You can quickly provide your employees with only those resources which they require, saving your business expense.

Contractors or Partners Access

With VDI, your IT team has to create secure access for partners or contractors to work virtually. Moreover, if you are not a huge organization and do not have a tech-support team, you may face issues resolving users’ technical glitches.

With DaaS, this problem is solved as providers handle all the IT load and offer you round-the-clock support for all user queries. Hence, your contractors or partners get continuous accessibility to virtual desktops, in turn offering adequate working conditions.

Recommend Reading: Top Use Cases of Desktop as a Service or DaaS

Which one to choose: Desktop as a Service vs VDI

VDI and DaaS are both highly scalable solutions that offer a high-performance desktop experience to users working remotely or on premises. However, if you want to choose between the two, you will have to analyze the type of business you are into, the duration you are planning to implement the desktop solution, the size of your company, among other aspects.

If you are looking to try the features of VDI out for a certain period, it is recommended that you utilize DaaS service, which is basically VDI outsourced by a third-party provider. However, if the planning is for the long-term, you can consider deploying in-house VDI.

The size of your workforce is also a deciding factor. VDI is not a suitable option for small and medium businesses as the number of employees is not significant enough considering the costs associated with VDI. For large enterprises, VDI can prove to be a good fit.

Daas, however, can prove to be beneficial for all types of businesses, especially, the small and medium-sized one.

So, choose wisely.

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