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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure vs. Desktop as a Service: Everything You Need to Know

January 30, 2023
By ProArch

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) may seem the same: They deliver consistent virtualized desktop and app experiences to users, allowing them to work securely from any location and device. However, there are several key differences between the two offerings, especially regarding maintenance and ownership.

So, when it comes to VDI vs. DaaS, which one is best? Let’s explore the greatest distinctions between VDI and DaaS to help you decide which is the right fit for your organization.




What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

Virtual desktop infrastructure uses virtual machines that IT manages to deliver virtualized desktops and applications. VDI can be on-premises, in the Cloud, or hybrid. VDI provides a consistent and secure desktop experience for users—whether in-office or remote.

VDI solutions are purchased, implemented, integrated, and maintained internally as a do-it-yourself solution. Because it is often self-managed, a company’s IT department is responsible for managing hardware maintenance, general upkeep, and software updates.



What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

With Desktop as a Service, your data and applications are stored on virtual desktops in a Cloud environment like Azure Virtual Desktop and are managed by a third-party provider. As a cloud-based service, DaaS is acquired, deployed, built, and maintained by a third-party provider.

Depending on the vendor, DaaS can be either a client-defined or managed DaaS model, which has varying levels of control and management responsibilities. However, outsourcing a DaaS solution does not mean you have to give up control over your infrastructure. Instead, you are adding expertise to your team without the need to budget for additional hires.



VDI vs. DaaS: The Main Differences

There are four key differences between VDI and DaaS.

1. Cost

Computing, storage, and infrastructure for a VDI solution can involve high upfront costs. On the other hand, while there are onboarding fees for DaaS, overall, it requires a lower upfront cost and utilizes a subscription OpEx model with predictable monthly payments.

2. Management

VDI offers IT complete management over its onsite servers, including maintenance and security, upgrades and updates, and troubleshooting. DaaS allows teams to offload maintenance and add complementary skills their team may lack, including application modernization, security, and compliance.

3. Control

With VDI, you have full control over your infrastructure and data. You can control who accesses your data, where it is stored, which tools are used, and how systems are monitored. With DaaS, depending on if it’s a client-defined or managed DaaS model, the provider controls many aspects of your configuration. Some providers may not offer visibility into these aspects; if having complete visibility is important to you, be sure to look for a provider who provides it.

4. Multi-Tenant vs. Single-Tenant

All DaaS environments follow a multi-tenant model, which means resources are shared among several organizations. VDI environments, on the other hand, typically follow a single-tenant model. This means all resources are used by a single organization.

While VDI and DaaS both offer many benefits to hybrid work, these differences must be considered as you search for the right solution for your organization.



Which is the best fit for my organization?

Now that we’ve discussed the major differences between the two offerings, how do you decide which is best for your organization? Here are some primary use cases for desktop as a service and virtual desktop infrastructure.



VDI Use Cases

There are a few scenarios where a VDI solution is especially useful, including the following:

  • Highly regulated industries: Data is stored securely on the server, not the device, giving IT more control to ensure compliance requirements are met and data is protected if the device is ever lost or compromised.
  • Organizations with the resources to support VDI: VDI skills are in short supply, but if you have a team with the skills to maintain and manage VDI, keeping the work in-house may make more sense.
  • Enterprise organizations: Larger companies that operate with a high level of confidence or have steady growth can budget for the upfront investment and time VDI requires.

If you need complete control or dedicated resources, VDI may be the better choice for your organization.



DaaS Use Cases

Like VDI, there are a few use cases where DaaS is most suitable, including the following:

  • OpEx model: DaaS is a subscription model based on cloud consumption and the number of users. However, it does require ongoing optimization to avoid surprise costs.
  • Disaster recovery: Data is stored in the Cloud, more specifically Azure Virtual Desktop, so it’s protected and stays available even when natural disasters, theft, or disruption happen. Plus, the provider will put backup and retention policies in place.
  • Fluctuating head count: If you are in a more seasonal industry or are expanding globally, DaaS scales on demand so you do not have to invest in additional infrastructure.
  • Hardware supply chain delays: Order lead times for laptops and other hardware has surged from days to weeks or months. With DaaS, your new hires can get productive immediately using their device.

DaaS offers an excellent solution for teams that need to scale or change on the fly, as well as for those who do not have the resources or budget to manage VDI internally.


Watch: Why is now the time for Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

Keep watching 'Why CIOs are Adopting Virtual Desktop' >


Keeping up with an ever-changing environment is no easy feat. If you feel like your VDI solution is holding you back, see how ProArch’s Desktop as a Service (DaaS) can help your organization move to the Cloud with confidence in as little as three months.

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