IT and Desktop-as-a-Service

Steve Kaplan - VP of Virtualization and Cloud
02/25/13 at 04:37 am

Desktop-as-a-Service as Part of IT-as-a-Service

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) as a concept is pretty well defined with lots of players and products in the space such as VMware vCloud Director, Cisco Intelligent Automation, CA AppLogic, VCE Vblock, etc. Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), on the other hand, tends to invoke thoughts of a cloud provider offering hosted Windows desktops. But when considered as a subset of ITaaS, DaaS enables greater synergy, efficiency and agility.

 

Just another Set of Workloads

Given the traditional isolation of desktops from the data center, it is natural for organizations to treat virtual desktops differently as well. This tendency is bolstered by a notable lack of integration of virtual desktops into private clouds. Even VMware View is currently not integrated into VMware vCloud Director. But when you think about it, virtual desktops already have some cloud-like properties such as consolidating most of the resources into centralized pools and the ability to provision many non-persistent desktops on the fly.

And while virtual desktops certainly have different criteria than virtual servers around performance, security and reliability – at the end of the day, they’re just another set of workloads. It makes economic sense to leverage, where reasonable; the same back-end infrastructure, management console, tools, processes and IT staff expertise from the server to the desktop.

Desktop-as-a-Service also goes beyond internally hosting of Microsoft Windows applications and extends to the cloud. An IT administrator, for instance, may decide it makes more sense for the organization to host its Exchange server with a trusted public cloud provider. Or perhaps it is preferable to move away from Microsoft all together and use an Exchange-compatible cloud-based offering such as VMware Zimbra, or possibly one offering a different look and feel such as Gmail. After all, a desktop is essentially just a means for accessing applications.

 

Poor IT Reputation for Customer Service

IT has generally not had the best reputation for customer service. But it has been saddled with the huge inefficiencies, rigidity and high costs of a traditional physical data center. Studies show that 70% of the typical IT budget goes to just keeping the lights on. This doesn’t leave a lot left over for innovation or for creative customer care.

Until fairly recently, IT hasn’t really had any competition. Now, however, there is the cloud. User requirements for agility are no longer necessarily stymied by IT constraints. I saw a recent statistic claiming that over half the virtual machines on Amazon Web Services are purchased via credit card directly by business units, bypassing IT.  Of course, IT is still responsible for the security, integrity and regulatory compliance of all the organization’s servers and desktops. The cloud, unmanaged, poses a true threat to their mission.

By embracing both ITaaS and DaaS as a subset, IT introduces extensive automation and efficiencies, thereby enabling a much higher level of customer service while an accompanying reduction in cost allows IT to compete more effectively with external public cloud providers. Utilizing a portal to monitor workloads wherever they may be hosted facilitates the ability of IT to utilize the best of private and public cloud platforms while maintaining control of the environment.

 

A New Era of IT Productivity

Reducing the necessity of spending so much time on babysitting equipment and on mundane daily tasks enables the IT staff to instead focus their talents on using technology to achieve organizational business objectives such as increasing top-line revenues, acquiring more customers and enabling more customer stickiness. Not only does this significantly benefit the organization, but it also is good for the IT staff. For one thing, the job becomes more fun. Additionally, the staff acquires more valuable skills and, in the process, enhances their own career paths.