Analysts remain optimistic about the rapid adoption of virtual desktop solutions in the years ahead. Last year, Gartner estimated that desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) would grow at an annual rate of nearly 60 percent (58.8%) through 2023, according to a 2019 Gartner report. This report was of course published before the coronavirus pandemic and the massive work from home experiment of 2020. To accommodate virtual workforces, an increasing number of companies now rely on third-party solutions including DaaS and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). On Wednesday, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), an IT analyst organization, released the results of a new survey focused on the widespread adoption, advantages, and drawbacks of VDI and DaaS solutions.

“This survey reveals that organizations that have adopted VDI and DaaS systems to support remote workers have encountered major issues — specifically cost, complexity, and security — which may hinder the long-term adoption of those technologies,” said Robb Henshaw CMO at Cameyo, a technology vendor and report sponsor.

Traditional desktop management challenges

Procurement costs as well as software compliance and licensing inventory were listed at the top two major difficulties associated with traditional desktop management. For employers assessing potential digital workspaces, enhancing employee collaboration remains the top priority. Security vulnerabilities and risks associated with these workspace environments being the second most important factors, according to the report. Nearly 80% of those surveyed believed that “alternative desktop delivery models” including VDI and DaaS exist as more secure options compared to traditional desktop workspace models.

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VDI, DaaS benefits and drawbacks

Overall, the report found that about 40% of organizations now utilize VDI or DaaS solutions. More than 60% of respondents cited security and IT efficiency as the top metrics justifying VDI and DaaS investments. The most commonly reported benefits of both VDI and DaaS were enhanced security and cost-savings related to reduced IT expenses. On the flip side, the most reported drawbacks for both solutions related to implementation cost and the required management complexity.

“VDI is a collection of pre-cloud technologies that are deployed and managed by IT on-site to deliver a virtual desktop experience to their users. This requires significant investment in hardware and requires IT to manage servers, gateways, loads balancers, and other infrastructure,” Henshaw said.

DaaS was introduced as a cloud-based solution of legacy tech to reshape the virtual desktop landscape. DaaS appears to be marred by the same underlying hidden costs and similar management challenges.

“DaaS is essentially just VDI that has been crudely shoved into the cloud. DaaS sought to ‘disrupt’ VDI by moving certain aspects of virtual desktop delivery to the cloud, but it still relies on the same costly and complex underlying infrastructure,” Henshaw said.

Although these offerings are intended to streamline operations and cut costs, some organizations quickly find the opposite to be true. These unforeseen challenges and unanticipated costs are often burdensome for organizations. More than half of current DaaS and VDI users surveyed note that the adoption of these systems required a minimum of 10 full-time employees dedicated to the management of these systems. Additionally, 47% of Daas and VDI deployments required the use of third-parties for implementation services.

The rise of virtual application delivery

Those seeking virtual desktop offerings are no longer simply a choice between VDI or DaaS. The evolution of VDI to DaaS and then the categorical creation of “purpose-built” cloud-based platforms a la Virtual Application Delivery.

“Virtual Application Delivery eliminates the cost and management complexity involved in managing VDI and DaaS, provides a more seamless user experience that doesn’t require learning any new behavior, and enables the secure use of business-critical applications on any device – even non-IT managed personal devices,” Henshaw said.

VDI systems require purchasing lots of hardware upfront and the costs continue to mount over the years due to maintenance and upkeep. Comparatively, virtual application delivery platforms allow companies to save up to 75% of costs related to upfront infrastructure and recurrent licensing fees, per the report. Whereas the implementation of VDI and DaaS solutions require multiperson teams, one dedicated employee can oversee and manage virtual application delivery.

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In recent weeks, many lockdown orders have been lifted allowing businesses to reopen. Some employees will return to the traditional workplace, however, many teams will continue to work remotely in the interim and potentially long-term. Due to the pandemic, many organizations have had to reinvent their entire business models, workflows, and more.

“Many organizations adopted VDI and DaaS as band-aid fixes for what they originally thought would be a short-term problem of supporting remote work, but now every IT organization is in search of permanent solutions that can support a long-term remote work strategy to ensure that their people don’t miss a beat when it comes to productivity, regardless of where they’re working from,” said Henshaw.

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