What is the difference between DaaS and VDI?

Published on 24/08/2021 by Sukanya Awasthi

As the UK is lifting restrictions and employees are returning to the office, businesses are looking at implementing a hybrid work model. As a result, companies are increasingly looking to adopt technologies like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) to meet the demands of remote working.

Difference between DaaS and VDI

Gartner forecasts that the number of users for DaaS will grow by over 150% between 2020 and 2023. In such a scenario, DaaS and VDI software look like a logical fit for organisations.

What are DaaS and VDI software?

Desktop as a Service —more commonly known as DaaS— is a cloud computing software that offers desktop services over the internet for data storage, analytics, processing, and integration on a per-user subscription. A physical terminal, where DaaS software is deployed, communicates with a workspace hosted on the company’s cloud. For employees looking for flexibility, software like DaaS potentially offers a low-cost, secure, and simple solution.

On the other hand, VDI —or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure— provides an interface where desktop environments are hosted virtually on a central server. A desktop environment is an application software that runs on top of an operating system and gives users access to standard graphical user interface components like icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. VDI divides servers into virtual desktops and users can access those virtual desktops via endpoint devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
In this article, we explore not only the need for implementing DaaS and VDI software but also the pros and cons of different virtual environments, so that businesses can choose the software that best suits their needs.

What role do tools like DaaS and VDI play in a hybrid work model?

Flexibility is the future and in a post-COVID world, employees will be increasingly looking at working in a hybrid environment. The way employees view their workplace also seems to be changing since the pandemic hit. Last year, the UK saw extended periods of lockdown and strict social distancing. Now that the country has started reopening after successive waves of COVID-19 and vaccine rollouts, small to midsize enterprise (SME) owners are looking to keep using remote software for hybrid work, as employees no longer look at remote working as only a temporary solution.

While using the hybrid-working model, efficient communication and collaboration tools become a necessity. As remote work has found a permanent place in the lives of workers across the globe, newer and more adaptive collaboration tools are required to create synergy between employers and employees. In a survey conducted by GetApp, it was found that as many as 20% of the people polled were looking for collaboration software. The survey also revealed that 26% of respondents are looking to build better home offices to boost their productivity, which may be hampered by factors like switching between different systems, virtual private network (VPN) software issues, and more such challenges.

Why should SMEs incorporate collaborative software in their businesses?

For SMEs with limited staff, maintaining an in-house virtual desktop environment can be a task, more so in times of remote working. From system upgrades to periodic maintenance, virtual set-ups lessen the load on the IT departments of organisations. In addition, DaaS and VDI software make it easier to share apps if desktops are hosted from a central location, usually a secure data center. Such virtual set-ups allow companies to collect and collate data from all units and relieve them from the hassle of managing and acquiring internal infrastructure.

Based on a GetApp survey, with 64% of organisations conducting most of their business virtually in the UK due to COVID-19, the demand for these kinds of software is likely on the rise. Another GetApp survey found that 76% of UK employees want to continue working remotely, either full-time or on a weekly basis, using digital tools. Such numbers suggest that the acceptance of digital solutions is increasing.

DaaS vs VDI: Which one to go for?

VDI and DaaS software have their own set of advantages and challenges. Use cases (how consumers, partners, and other stakeholders interact with and use the business), organisational capabilities, and overall company demand are some of the major factors that determine which solution one should go for. We’ll now compare and contrast DaaS and VDI software based on four major metrics/characteristics listed below:

1. Data Control

In terms of data control, VDI provides more control to a company’s IT staff by dedicating all the resources to a single user or organisation (also called the single-tenant model). DaaS software, on the contrary, works on a multi-tenant model wherein it gives vendors control over deployments and other endpoints for the customers. This results in a greater risk of security breaches on DaaS projects and higher chances of compromising data.

2. Cost

VDI works solely on the capital expenditure (CapEx) consumption model in which the expenses are incurred by businesses to create future benefits. DaaS, on the other hand, works on operational expenditure (OpEx) or OpEx/CapEx model, wherein businesses incur the expenses for the day-to-day functioning of a business, making DaaS systems costlier.

3. Elasticity

The deployment time for a VDI solution can generally be longer than a DaaS solution as the maintenance, installation, and security are handled by the end-user. DaaS systems are usually deployed quickly on the receiver’s systems because the installation of the software infrastructure is done by the DaaS vendor. A VDI solution is also often difficult to modify at later stages, which is not the case with DaaS software, which conveniently comes pre-configured.

4. Maintenance

VDI platforms run a yearly manual update, which means that an organisation’s IT team will have to conduct more frequent audits and updates on VDI systems, as just a once-yearly update may prove to be less-than-optimum for smooth functioning.

What’s next?

COVID-19 has pushed organisations to adopt a more flexible work culture with a hybrid model of work. With more and more companies showing interest in operating the workplace both virtually and onsite, collaboration becomes key. Despite the challenges posed by virtual set-ups like DaaS and VDI software, the adaptability, productivity, and decreased costs offered by them are helping SMEs to adapt to the changing times whilst also creating a culture of understanding.

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This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.


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About the author

Content Analyst for the UK market. Committed to offering insights on technology, emerging trends, and software suggestions to SMBs. Plant lady, café hopper, and dog mom.

Content Analyst for the UK market. Committed to offering insights on technology, emerging trends, and software suggestions to SMBs. Plant lady, café hopper, and dog mom.