From The Expert Feature Article
June 02, 2014

Why 2014 is (Finally!) THE Year for Desktops As A Service (DAAS)

Myth Busters

It took years of trying and failing, but the vast majority of enterprise customers finally get the joke: Private cloud is a myth. The top clouds today are run by warlords who dominate a digital landscape. This landscape is fueled by alien technology, immersed within insanely sophisticated financial models, which yield an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that enterprises simply can’t compete with using VMware, Citrix, EMC, NetApp, HP or Dell (News - Alert). Combine this with a vast amount of intellectual property to tweak or invent any desired feature within these virtual servers, desktops, storage, transport and more in the cloud and you’ve got a winning combination not easily trifled with!

The other myth to get busted was VDI. After years of try and die without watching it fly, a simple yet ugly truth emerged for all to see: the infrastructure everyone was told to use to virtualize servers was absolutely opposite of what is required to virtualize and scale thousands of virtual desktops. VDI crushed everything in its path, from storage to the need for much lower latency networking than the Ethernet of the day could provide. Yet, nefarious hardware and software vendors continued to come out with an endless array of “band aid” products to speed this or that up in the enterprise infrastructure, and to no avail.

As the years went by, cloud pioneers were quietly at work, making faster advances than the well-known enterprise focused VDI vendors in how to tackle the virtual desktop question. Industry analysts continued to miss predicting “the year of the virtual desktop”.  Customer frustration with VDI grew. Vendor revenues weren’t bolstered by the “next big wave” in virtualization they hoped desktops would bring. No one wanted to be the guy to point out that the emperor had no clothes – that to host virtual desktops, the entire infrastructure would have to be purpose-built from the ground up and 65 major problems within traditional infrastructures resolved. Windows itself was complex enough, and just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the software to virtualize it was even more convoluted.  Entire industries sprang up around the problem, but without really solving it.

Tip of the Ice Berg: 12 Common Problems with VDI

  1. Costs too much
  2. Performance  
  3. Video limitations
  4. Thin clients with limited functionality
  5. Printing problems
  6. Applications that can’t be virtualized
  7. Difficult to setup, even harder to maintain
  8. Crushed your SAN with I/O
  9. Network issues (required changes to firewall, design, bandwidth, latency, jitter)
  10. Couldn’t surf all websites (flash heavy sites, Netflix, etc.)
  11. Didn’t meet all use cases (what happens when offline?)
  12.  Sensitive to updates (Windows, Java, you name it)

And these are just the obvious ones. Cloud providers had to solve 53 other eye popping problems that VDI never did, in part because the VDI vendors were software only Kings and the problem requires unique synchronicity between software and hardware to really succeed.

The Rise of DAAS (Desktops as a Service)

Signing up at a cloud provider is free, so why not take a look around? Kick the tires? If you see something you like, then you pay. Anything you don’t want to keep you can spin down in seconds so you have absolutely nothing to lose! 

A typical “journey to the cloud” is easy – let me illustrate:

1. Create a free account online; you only pay for what you spin up, not the account itself.

2.  Every cloud has an orchestration tool; we call ours dinManage. This is where you shop for stuff you want to spin up (servers, desktops, cloud storage & more). Use your cloud portal to spin up a Windows 2008 or 2012 server in the cloud. Simultaneously, this will create a virtual private datacenter for you in the cloud isolated from everyone else and connected to the Internet via a virtual firewall dedicated to you. Within the management platform, you should be able to control the firewall’s rules, VPN tunnels, and buy public IPs to map to the private IPs of the servers/desktops/etc. you buy in the cloud. You should also get to pick your own private IP subnets and set those up as you wish.

3. Create a point-to-point VPN tunnel over the Internet from your new “virtual private datacenter in the cloud” to your onsite network.  The encrypted connection should be facilitated by the virtual firewall in the cloud to your onsite firewall (Cisco (News - Alert), Juniper, Sonicwall, etc.)

4. Next, console into (RDP or use dinManage) to promote the Windows 2008 or 2012 server you spun up in step #2, and make it a Microsoft (News - Alert) Active Directory Domain Controller. This will insure all your user login accounts, security policies etc. replicate to and will be available in the cloud.

5. Next, spin up virtual desktops in the cloud.  Spin up more servers or cloud storage if you wish as well.

Voila done!

DaaS is on the rise because it is so easy. Best of all, every problem with VDI has been solved by DaaS. As more server infrastructure moves to the cloud, it’s increasingly important to keep the symbiotic relationship around proximity between servers and desktops alive. In my opinion, if you can find a cloud services provider that hosts virtual servers, virtual desktops (without using VMware or Citrix!), storage, voice, and offers a wide array of transport options (Internet, MPLS, direct-connect) – then you’ve got a keeper! Search well my friends. ;-)

Mike L. Chase ([email protected]) is EVP and Chief Technology Officer for dincloud, a cloud services provider and transformation company that helps businesses and public/private organizations rapidly migrate to the cloud through the hosting of servers, desktops, storage, and other cloud services via its strong channel base of VARs and MSPs. Visit dinCloud on LinkedIn (News - Alert):

Edited by Maurice Nagle