A DaaS Checklist for CIOs: The Top 5 Questions to Ask

by Puneet Chawla on Feb 14, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Gartner recently published a report that predicted: “By 2019, 50% of new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) users will be deployed on DaaS platforms.” It’s a bold statement that reflects a growing trend towards IT simplification. This trend is prompting many CIOs to consider hybrid cloud infrastructure and SaaS vendors for their workspace deployments because they not only offer excellent time to value but also significantly reduced TCO.

The industry waited a long time for simplified VDI

VDI is a perfect fit for “SaaS’ification.” It has historically required significant IT resources to manage and deploy at scale. Just think about all the other software stacks that were complicated to install, configure and manage on-premises, which later proved to be excellent candidates for SaaS. Who remembers doing due diligence for Seibel vs. Salesforce, PeopleSoft vs. Workday, and BMC vs. ServiceNow?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you must know that numerous EUC vendors have declared that the cloud will be used to deliver the workspace of the future. The irony is that, years ago, these same vendors claimed to provide a “single and integrated” platform for desktops, apps and mobile. Really, though, they never delivered on their promise. Today, they’ve taken the easy way out. They host complicated application software in the cloud and use their marketing dollars to claim DaaS support.DaaS Checklist for CIOs-1.jpg

In reality most “DaaS” solutions are just cloud-washed VDI that could end up costing you time and money in the long run. Before you deploy a SaaS style VDI (DaaS) solution, we want to help you carefully consider your options with this handy DaaS checklist. Here are the top 5 questions to ask when you’re evaluating DaaS vendors.

#1: Does it provide a unified platform?

Some DaaS platforms are built like the “Hotel California,” which makes them highly problematic. They offer no support for on-prem deployments or easy migration from one location to another. This means there’s no bridge for gradually adopting DaaS. Plus, by leaving out the ability to manage on-prem VDI along with DaaS from the same platform, these DaaS vendors force CIOs to do a “lift and shift” transition. This makes moving to DaaS painful.

DaaS platforms a bit like hotel cal.png

Compare to Workspot:  Take a look at Workspot’s DaaS solution. Workspot provides a single unified platform for both on-prem (any hypervisor) and public cloud (Microsoft Azure) deployments.

DaaS checklist workspot config.png

#2: Are costs transparent?

A DaaS solution consists of two pieces: an infrastructure hosting platform and a management/control plane. The hosting platform is the hypervisor and location where the desktops run. The management plane runs the business logic behind which users get access to which resources. The goal with DaaS is to locate desktops closer to users by using data centers run by global providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon or IBM. 

However, cost overruns due to lack of transparency from vendors is a common problem. If you are expected to combine different components to build your own DaaS solution, the probability of hitting the unexpected overage charges is pretty high! Specifically, the cost of bandwidth, extra storage required to move files and apps closer to the users, and infrastructure components like Active Directory should be considered as integral parts of the solution.

There is a stark difference between IaaS style VDI in the cloud with multiple cost centers and no predictability and SaaS style VDI (DaaS). IaaS style VDI vendors will point customers to a cost calculator that decouples the cloud-cost from the management layer. In such cases, in order to have a realistic deployment, a partner becomes mandatory, which only increases the cost of deployment. For DaaS to be realistic, the cost/desktop has to be competitive with on-prem VDI deployments with no hidden costs.

Compare to Workspot: Workspot offers customers the ability to consume cloud desktops and disaster recovery DaaS solutions at a fixed, flat cost per month.

#3: Is there high availability?

The best way to gauge the quality of a cloud architecture is to look at Service Level Agreements offered by the vendor. The service level needs to qualify the uptime offered by the actual management layer. The difference between cloud-washing and cloud-native vendors is clearly attributed by how they handle scale and availability.

99.9 to 99.99% uptimes are expected for enterprise ready vendors.

Workspot offered 99.95% uptime to customers in 2015 and 2016.

#4: Does it provide elastic service without an old-school software contract?

With true cloud-native DaaS services it shouldn’t cost anything to onboard new customers. Cloud services are highly scalable and offer customers the ability to expand usage on-demand. Therefore, signing contracts or enterprise license agreements with multiple year terms is against the core of utility computing.

Long term, DaaS vendors will have the ability to use intelligent algorithms to save the compute resources required to run enterprise desktops in the public cloud. These savings should be transferred back to customers. Here’s a really good question to ask potential DaaS vendors: Can you pay less if you use desktops for only 20 hrs/week with a well defined power management schedule or if you need DaaS for only a DR (disaster recovery) use-case?

Compare to Workspot: We offer a hands-on, no-risk buying process to ensure our customers are happy.  .

#5:  Is it a managed service or a “use your own subscription”?

In order to reduce the complexity required to stand-up VDI, DaaS solutions must provide some basic features. There is a clear difference between running desktops in the cloud and the ability to create a “branch-office” in the cloud for running important workloads like desktops. Here are some questions to ask to determine which type of service you’re going to get.

  • Who is managing security in the public cloud?
    • With a bring your own “cloud subscription” IaaS offering, internal IT teams are responsible for securing all the assets in the public cloud. Firewall policies, Virtual DMZ and cloud blind spots are common problems when looking at building your own IaaS VDI solution.
  • Who is helping with the on-prem network integration (IPSec or MPLS connectivity)?
    • Vendors of cloud-washed DaaS solutions will typically throw you a 300-page PDF document describing all the steps for getting started. Look for a vendor that offers a “customer success” program to stay with you the whole way and help with the deployment.
  • Who is helping with Active Directory integration?
    • The ability to use a read-only domain controller is expected for a solid long-term deployment.
  • Is there a plan for bringing important data and apps closer to desktops in the public cloud?
    • Files/data migration is essential if customers want to bring user profiles closer to the desktops. Performance of applications and desktops cannot be optimized if network integration is the only recommendation.
  • Who will be responsible for the following tasks?
    • Patching of OS’s running the management layer in the cloud
    • Templates and application software updates (without artificial limitations)
    • Performance monitoring
    • License management clarity (named user vs. concurrent user)
    • Backup and restore functionality of all the critical components required for DaaS
    • Support for issues related to either the management layer or the hosting layer
    • Optionally, patching of Win10 desktop instances as a service

Compare to Workspot: Our DaaS is a managed-service. As part of the solution, security and multiple subscriptions to deploy other apps and file-servers are included. We provide a fully managed Azure subscription to customers and allow them to use multiple subscriptions or regions with virtual network peering options.

Here's what the Workspot + Azure architecture looks like

Check out the graphic below. Datacenter administrators prefer separation of concerns for on-prem deployments. A datacenter blueprint will typically have one cluster for VDI, another cluster for LoB apps and another cluster for dev/test.

Long term, most customers will adopt the same model for consuming the public cloud. Customers will have logical separation between different public cloud subscriptions and software-defined networking will be used to connect them. We expect most customers will be on the right side (multiple virtual branch offices in the public cloud) by 2020.

Workspot + Azure Architecture.jpg

Let’s hope that the customer wins in 2017!

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This post was written by Puneet Chawla

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