Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a cloud computing solution that provides virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) services to users over the internet. Like VDI solutions, DaaS eliminates the need for traditional physical desktops since it hosts desktop environments on a remote server. This allows users to access their desktops from any device, offering greater flexibility and mobility. This is the DaaS definition.
DaaS is often managed by third-party service providers. These providers take care of all the backend responsibilities, including data storage, backup, and security. This makes DaaS a cost-effective and scalable solution for businesses, since they can easily scale the number of virtual desktops based on their needs and without having to worry about hardware and software management and maintenance. As a result, DaaS offers a streamlined approach to desktop management, enhancing operational efficiency while reducing costs.
Over the last few years, the adoption of DaaS services has grown significantly. This is due to a number of benefits, including remote work support and flexibility. The main advantages are:
- Remote Work Support – With DaaS, users can access their desktops from a variety of devices, including laptops, tablets, and even smartphones. This explains why DaaS adoption was accelerated following global events like the COVID-19 pandemic, when remote work became the norm. Organizations that need to provide employees with secure, remote access to their work environments and sanctioned apps turned to DaaS services to ensure business continuity.
- Easy Deployment and Ease of Use – DaaS can be easily deployed and used since it does not require extensive hardware resources or IT time. The heavy lifting is taken care of by third-parties. This makes DaaS an attractive option for companies of all sizes, especially startups and SMEs that may not have extensive IT resources.
- Scalability – Easy deployment enables adding or removing users quickly and efficiently.
- Security – When it comes to cybersecurity, DaaS presents a mixed bag. On the one hand, centralized management of desktops can enhance security. All data is stored in secure, remote servers, which are often equipped with advanced encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA). This centralized approach makes it easier to roll out security patches and updates, ensuring that all virtual desktops are uniformly secure.
However, the very nature of DaaS, i.e being accessible from anywhere, is also a cybersecurity risk. If users access their virtual desktops from insecure networks or compromised devices, the risk of a security breach increases. DaaS solutions can expose organizations to additional vectors of attack that exploit remote access capabilities, such as man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks or phishing schemes.
DaaS operates on the principles of VDI, but with a cloud-centric approach.
When a user logs in to a DaaS platform, the request is sent across the internet to a cloud server where the VDI is hosted. This server creates a virtual machine (VM) for each user. Each VM contains the operating system, applications, and data that make up the user’s desktop environment.
Once the VM is up and running, the desktop’s GUI is transmitted back to the user’s device over the internet, usually via a secure protocol. The user interacts with this interface as if it were a local desktop, but with all the processing happens on the remote server.
The third-party DaaS provider takes care of all backend management tasks, such as data storage, backups, and security measures, freeing organizations from the complexities of desktop management.
DaaS and VDI both aim to provide users with remote access to desktop environments, but they differ in their operational models and responsibilities.
VDI is typically an on-premises solution, meaning that the organization is responsible for managing the servers, storage, and networking components. This gives the organization greater control over its infrastructure, but also requires significant investment in hardware and ongoing maintenance. VDI is beneficial for larger enterprises that have the resources to manage complex IT setups and require stringent security measures.
- Security (somewhat)
- High costs
- Complex management
On the other hand, DaaS offloads these responsibilities to a third-party cloud service provider. This makes it a more cost-effective and scalable solution, ideal for small to medium-sized businesses or organizations with fluctuating needs. With DaaS, organizations pay for what they use, and scale it up or down as needed. The service provider takes care of backend management, including security patches, updates, and data backups. However, this comes at the cost of security.
- Less maintenance and overhead
DaaS offers numerous benefits to different types of organizations. For large enterprises with complex IT infrastructures, DaaS provides a way to streamline operations and reduce the overhead of internal IT teams. By outsourcing desktop management to specialized service providers, these organizations can focus on core business functions while still supporting remote employees and without impeding business progress.
For SMEs, DaaS offers scalability and cost-effectiveness. These organizations often lack the resources to manage an extensive on-premises setup. The DaaS subscription model allows them to quickly scale without incurring significant costs or IT overhead.
In sectors like healthcare, finance, and education, DaaS offers the added benefit of regulatory compliance. Many DaaS providers offer solutions that are compliant with industry-specific regulations, ensuring that sensitive data is handled securely.
DaaS is a security solution that is particularly beneficial for businesses that have adopted remote work, since it provides a secure and flexible remote access solution for employees. In addition, the fact that it is managed by third-party service providers that take care of backend responsibilities like data storage, backup, and security, make DaaS a cost-effective and scalable option.
However, the very flexibility that drives DaaS adoption can also be a cybersecurity risk. Accessing virtual desktops from insecure networks or compromised devices can expose businesses to threats like MITM attacks or phishing schemes. This is where a solution like LayerX comes into play.
LayerX is a secure browser extension that provides users with quicky and seamless connectivity to organizational resources and SaaS applications from any browser, without having to install any additional software. By continuously monitoring browser sessions, LayerX detects and blocks any malicious access attempts. This is all enabled without any operational efforts and while providing a seamless user experience. LayerX provides the same level of security from managed or unmanaged devices, making it an ideal solution for secure remote access.