Cloud-Based Desktops as a Service (DaaS)


There are a number of factors fueling the need for greater adoption of desktop virtualization within every organization. The obvious is the consumerization of mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones, Kindle Fires, Samsung Galaxys, etc. The proliferation of these devices has built a level of demand that requires the enterprise datacenter to enable the end user, partner, or contractor to work on their schedule; anytime anywhere.

An additional factor is the ever increasing loss of data due to theft. Organizations like DataLossDB scour news feeds, blogs, and other source recording data breaches. When I started writing this post they had reported over 12,000 records had already been lost in 2012! As I’ve continued to author this post I’ve been unable track the number of losses. Desktop virtualization provides a means to centralize and secure one’s intellectual property whether the access is from a remote or local user, or an employee or contractor.

Finally, the inevitable end of support for Windows XP in April of 2014 is forcing organizations to investigate the next generation of their desktop infrastructure. Frankly, there’s no better time to consider a net-new platform for desktop services than when facing an imminent change. Architects must balance the aspects of persisting with the status quo or moving to a new infrastructure.

With all of these factors many organizations are still unable to realize their desktop virtualization initiatives.

Have You Considered Why This Is?

Simply put, it’s difficult to design and deploy an infrastructure that can meet the performance requirements of virtual desktops that is both cost-conscious and highly available. Desktop architectures are significantly more challenging to deliver than ones supporting virtualized servers. I believe one could summarize the challenges limiting many deployments as the following…

  1. Inconsistent Infrastructure Capabilities – Simply put, there are significant variances in the ability of hardware and software platforms to support this workload.
  2. Unaffordable Solutions – In many ways this issue is a continuation of the previous. Anyone can design an architecture that scales when budget constraints are removed. We most often see this issue arise when a solution is designed solely based on a software technology. Architectures must scale while being affordable or they are simply unrealistic.
  3. Scarcity of Holistic Solution Knowledge – The architectural challenges one faces are often compounded by the lack of holistic solution expertise within their IT department. The ability to deliver desktops requires one to understand the end user, their apps, operational practices, etc.

Accelerate Your Adoption of Desktop Virtualization

NetApp is well known as being the storage industry leader for desktop virtualization solutions based on technologies from VMware and Citrix. This success was enabled by a combination of the ability of our platforms to meet the unique price:performance:capability needs combined with joint engineering efforts from a number of our technology partners resulting in certified architectural designs delivered by our channel partners.

Even with this joint success, not every customer is in a position to deploy a desktop infrastructure. The reasons may or may not be one of those listed above. If you find yourself challenged with deploying virtual desktops may I propose you consider deploying Desktop as a Service, such as the cloud-based DaaS offering from Desktone.

Preparing for Cloud-Based DaaS

Coming to the decision that desktop virtualization is the direction for your organization to pursue is easy. Obviously a blog post can’t provide you a step-by-step process for adopting a new technology; however, I believe I can help you by suggesting that the preparation for adoption is a process that maps the capability of the infrastructure to the needs and business process of the end user.

During the initial years of developing Desktop Virtualization solutions most vendors focused on targeting markets or industries where we thought the solution made sense. Success was found in a number of areas like call centers, educational systems, lab environments, etc. During this time a more refined model developed. One where the success factor could be significantly increased by more closely mapping the needs of the end user and workflows to the ability of the technology to meet these needs.

As I stated earlier the lack of solution expertise has hindered the adoption of desktop virtualization, so you are going to need subject mater experts to succeed. I need to get a bit get a bit geeky here… Does your staff understand the best models for collecting user workload requirements beyond CPU, memory, and I/O? Can they advise whether an application is best served by the PCoIP or HDX™ display protocol? Can they advise as to which provides a better quality of service when the remote bandwidth is experiencing 200ms latencies?

One advantage provided by a service provider like Desktone is their ability to augment your in-house talent with their expertise in delivering DaaS. Desktop virtualization often hinges on the quality of the end user experience and to that end there’s much more to consider beyond display protocols including the optimization of the desktop OS, user profiles and data storage, access & data security, the ability of the array to scale, remote device connectivity like printers or personal storage devices, etc.

DaaS provides the means for the customer to accelerate the validation process required in delivering their applications in a virtual desktop environment. Should the testing with a specific set of users or applications return suboptimal results; Desktone has the flexibility to provision a new configuration on demand in order to continue the testing process. Once a configuration is found that meets the requirements organizations can immediately transition users to DaaS and proceed to identify the next potential users. DaaS provides a consume on demand model that can truly accelerate one’s time to success.

NetApp Powers Desktone’s Cloud-Based DaaS

Desktone has historically deployed their service offerings on a number of storage arrays from various vendors, ranging from the very large to the up and coming. A year or so back Desktone engaged NetApp as the traditional storage platforms they had deployed were struggling to meet the price:performance:capability ratio required to launch and sustain their cloud-based DaaS offering.

“By teaming with NetApp, we are ensuring that our service providers and customers benefit from the high availability, cost savings and flexibility that such advanced storage solutions make possible.”

— Peter McKay, CEO of Desktone

“NetApp has some performance and deployment advantages with VDI. The platform is unmatched from the ability to deploy a Secure Multi-Tenant design that is both high performing and highly storage efficient. Data Deduplication and FlexClone has provided an 85% reduction in the storage required by Desktone.”

— Danny Allan, CTO of Desktone

Today Desktone has standardized on NetApp as their platform of choice for hosting their DaaS service offering. The infrastructure they have deployed is a case study in the architectural components I’ve shared with you here in my blog over the past two or three years. Their NetApp storage platform delivers…

  • Massive architectural scaling, operational simplicity and the highest performance with NFS and 10GbE
  • Massive Performance from Commodity Hardware with the unique dedupe aware caching found in the FAS virtual storage tiering and FlashCache expansion modules.
  • Secure separation of tenant environment and infrastructure mobility provided our Virtual Storage Profile technology called vFilers.
  • Immediate Time-to-Revenue by leveraging integrated, hardware accelerated desktop cloning via FlexClone.
  • Cost savings initiated with the zero-cost storage provisioning of FlexClone and ensured during the lifecycle of the customer via Data Deduplication

Wrapping Up This Post

Cloud computing is advancing the means in which IT is designed and delivered. I am very proud of NetApp’s participation in aiding Desktone in their goal to become a leader in the DaaS market. For more information on offerings from Desktone please visit their website.

You may find cloud-based DaaS an attractive option for your organization.

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