While we all know a few people who have been itching to get back into the office and a few more who are now firmly committed to a life of video calls and pajamas, most people – including myself – sit somewhere in the middle (depending on the day and whether the kids are at school!). This preference is visible when looking at office occupancy rates – all of Australia’s capital cities have generally been hovering around 40–70% of pre-pandemic levels (Adelaide and Perth at the upper end, Brisbane and Sydney in the middle, and Melbourne bringing up the rear).
Balancing these post-pandemic preferences with business requirements is a challenge many organizations face now. As a result, most will ultimately establish permanent hybrid models that provide flexibility for employees and employers.
While a hybrid model sounds great in theory, if you work in IT, you’ll likely know how tricky this is in practice. From managing network bandwidth problems to hardware and software conflicts and countless security issues, IT professionals have been working hard throughout the pandemic, trying to get – and keep – everyone online.
With a plethora of services and solutions now on the market to help hybridize your organization’s operations and support staff, I’d recommend adding Desktop as a Service (DaaS) as a capability to investigate.
What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?
DaaS is an on-cloud alternative to traditional virtual desktop platforms deployed on in-house infrastructure and supported by your organization’s internal IT team. Essentially, while traditional virtual desktops and DaaS enable employees to securely access corporate systems from anywhere, on any computer and network, DaaS (as per the “as-a-service” model) is cloud-hosted, managed, and maintained by a service provider.
Why DaaS is growing in popularity
Pre-pandemic, the complexity and cost of traditional virtual desktop platforms made implementation difficult for many organizations. The urgency of the transition to remote work brought about by the pandemic highlighted how comparatively fast and simple DaaS is to roll out and run to the extent that it’s now one of the fastest-growing cloud services.
Key benefits of DaaS include:
- Low CapEx: DaaS can significantly reduce an organization’s upfront IT infrastructure investment, allowing them to focus on running their core business rather than IT support services.
- Lean IT support staff: DaaS eliminates the need for a heavy IT resource pyramid to support activities like provisioning, patch deployment, security, and access considerations.
- Multi-device support: With DaaS, many different devices can be used to access applications and data on an official desktop image, increasing organizational agility and responsiveness without compromising security.
- Low maintenance overheads: DaaS allows many common virtual desktop issues (such as patching, backups, and security breaches) to be managed remotely as data is transferred to the cloud using secure channels rather than being saved on local machines.
- Strengthened data security: As data always resides within the DaaS environment, there is no data footprint on local hardware, reducing the likelihood of data breaches.
- Flexible models for seasonal fluctuations: Organizations that face seasonal fluctuations in usage/users may be able to leverage DaaS for peak periods and then revert to a leaner on-prem model when load reduces.
Determining if DaaS is right for you
As we all know, no technology is without limitation, and a robust assessment and evaluation process is essential to understand whether DaaS will meet your needs. To get you started, three key questions to ask yourself are:
- How much control do I need? As the service provider provides hardware and the operating image under DaaS, your organization has less control over the IT infrastructure. In the exceptional event of cloud connectivity failure, all users may get disconnected and be unproductive until the service provider resolves the issue.
- How will my staff connect to and use their virtual desktops? DaaS users will naturally require an internet connection to access their virtual desktops. However, a standard home internet connection may not be able to handle certain bandwidth-heavy work or applications.
- How would I exit? As with any “as-a-service” solution, you need to be mindful of provider lock-in and associated risks. If you’re considering investing in DaaS make sure you discuss it as part of your organizational cloud contingency planning so you have a clear understanding of what an exit would entail.
In summary, DaaS presents a flexible, secure, and potentially highly cost-effective way to hybridize your workforce, improve your employee experience and efficiently incorporate your end-user environment into your cloud transformation journey.
VP & Partner Head – CIO Advisory APAC & Financial Services ANZ
Shan is a C-Suite Advisory, Financial Services & Insurance Leader in the APAC region. He has over 20 years of consulting experience in IT transformations and financial services strategy.
A TOGAF 9.1, Certified Scrum Master, Azure Fundamental and SOA certified consultant, Specialised skills include Enterprise architecture advisory, IT strategy and roadmap, Cloud Advisory, Portfolio Optimisation, and Management.
Bridey is a communication and engagement specialist with over 10 years' experience providing strategic advice to private and public sector executives for large-scale and high-profile internal and external programs.