Diving into 7 Benefits of Desktop as a Service

Envision IT Pressroom | September 1, 2022

Envision IT Pressroom
September 1, 2022

Necessity is the mother of invention. The current post-pandemic work environment has highlighted an increasingly expedited set of tech stack roadmap innovations facing companies globally. Market forces and changing attitudes about the nature of work are driving organizations to look more closely at IT options that provide flexibility, security, and a host of other benefits designed to keep their enterprises competitive.

Today's employees and the burgeoning gig workforce expect access to their work anywhere on any device. Many organizations are considering the value of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) to provide a flexible, secure, scalable, and cost-effective solution to address these business needs.

According to a recent Gallup report gauging the State of the American Workplace, 43% of the workforce now works remotely. A Pew Research Center report states that they are happy at home with 60% of the remote workplace saying that they would like it to stay that way most of the time.

Recently, Envision IT's Beau Smithback, Chief Stakeholder Strategist (CEO), and Bill Crahen, their Chief Stakeholder Architect (CTO) sat down to offer their take on the "State of DaaS." They shared their views on the evolution of DaaS and how, along with their industry partners, they see DaaS as a particularly important solution to addressing the varied managed IT service needs of companies today and into the future.


What is the state of DaaS now and how have you seen it evolve?

Bill Crahen
Desktop as a service has been around for quite some time – starting before public cloud resources became widely available and adopted. Early on, DaaS was essentially desktops hosted in someone else's private data center.

These legacy DaaS solutions had a fairly high cost, but a decent user experience when first deployed as the hardware was new and the implementation was fresh. However, over time these DaaS solutions became slow, and the user experience declined as the hardware was older and the deployments were not updated with the latest fixes and features. The latest DaaS solutions are taking advantage of Public Cloud resources so they can be kept up to date with the latest hardware and can often utilize licensing and cloud resources you already have in use.

Beau Smithback
Technology has evolved such that you don't even know you are on it anymore. Before, there was an experience difference between working on your local machine and working on DaaS, but that's not the case anymore. With the technology evolving to provide a near-perfect solution and experience, people have been more willing to adopt it.

Bill Crahen
With the gig workforce, they typically have their own devices. Nowadays, with security being what it is, there is no way you would allow a non-corporate, untrusted device access to your system. Since the DaaS desktop is a corporate-owned, trusted device coming from a trusted network. You can put all your security tools and controls in there, lock it down and those systems can securely access internal apps and data.

Beau Smithback
I think there are additional challenges. The first is the pandemic has changed the workforce. And I think people are saying, 'Hey, I don't want to go to the office anymore.' And for those companies that are requiring a return to the office, a lot of employees are voting with their feet and they're going somewhere else that allows a flexible work environment. Companies know they must be able to attract and retain talent, so they are looking for innovative solutions.

The second thing we're seeing driving the adoption of DaaS is hardware availability. Companies that want to build out their secure networks themselves are increasingly not able to acquire hardware fast enough. As they're moving data centers, they must ask themselves 'How do we deliver a good user experience out of Azure versus people at our office when we can't reliably secure the hardware?' Hardware availability is driving a great deal of adoption.

Bill Crahen
I think for the last 20 years, I've heard people say that virtual desktops are going away because we're going to move to all the web-based and now SaaS applications, and yet they're still there. There are still a ton of legacy applications and data that live within their data centers. What we've been seeing in the past few years is, that companies are moving to the cloud for good reasons. Their data centers are full, or they want to get out of that business and focus more resources and time on their core business. Yet, they still have all those legacy applications, and they need a good way to give users access to those securely. DaaS is a great way to do that.


Is DaaS for everyone?

Bill Crahen
There are companies where some amount of their users simply need access to one application, but the same security challenges exist. There are scaled-back options to use. It's kind of a buzzword now, but 'zero-trust solutions' that let you connect to those applications in a safer manner are necessary. Maybe some set of users, developers for example, or maybe some specialized users are still going to need a full desktop or a DaaS solution. Meanwhile, another segment just needs secure access to a certain number of applications.


What do IT teams look like going forward?

Bill Crahen
I think they're more strategic and working on more projects that move the business forward. We have found that where we're managing desktops and security and, ongoing day-to-day operations of systems, IT teams still need to support the users, especially from their subject matter expertise perspective. Oftentimes, they're using specialized applications. So, they still own that deep expertise around that and continue to support users. But they don't need to worry about patching, maintaining, and more complex security tools. They can leave that up to organizations like us. Partnering in this manner for co-management has proven to be a powerful combination for forward-looking businesses.  

Beau Smithback
I think the pandemic did change this in some ways because the speed at which companies had to adopt new technologies was sort of faster than the speed that their teams could keep up with and learn the new technologies. I think MSPs have had a big play in that. DaaS is an example. Because while they're moving to Azure, they might not understand Azure. So now clients are relying on partners to manage it while their teams get up to speed.


What are some of the misconceptions that people have about DaaS?

Bill Crahen
There is sometimes a misconception that DaaS and Virtual Desktops are horrific experiences. Because they used it 20 years ago, or 10 years ago. And maybe it wasn't set up correctly or maybe back then it just wasn't as great. The DaaS of today is a way better experience. Ideally, you don't notice the difference between DaaS and what's local.

Beau Smithback
I think one of the challenges is that until you do it, the cost is a tremendous mystery for people. They assume it's going to cost a lot more. And the way they come to that conclusion is they'll run it through a cost calculator and estimate how many machines they will have running, but they don't do the optimization that needs to occur.

So, when they look at a kind of worst-case scenario, it might scare people away. Costs presented without context are misleading. When they look at it without that optimization and expertise, it is probably not a realistic view of the costs associated with adoption. It's just this big, scary unknown. And that prevents a lot of adoption. That's where we can help.


There are many benefits to DaaS, some of which Beau and Bill have touched on. Let's look more closely at some of the primary benefits of DaaS and why those benefits are driving adoption.

The flexibility of DaaS is often the most immediate concern organizations need to address. There may be a concern about the use of cloud-based resources. Organizations may prefer, perhaps because of a special need, to have in-house systems. DaaS solutions today are virtual desktops. With DaaS, companies have the flexibility to put those virtual desktops close to the data. For DR (disaster recovery) reasons or future potential migration to the public cloud, DaaS has the option to relocate those virtual desktops. DaaS meets organizations where they are on their cloud journey and can actually facilitate it.

The nature of work is, to say the least, evolving. One of the primary lessons from the pandemic regarding worker attitudes is that people want more flexibility to work from anywhere on any device. Using desktops and laptops, to smartphones and tablets, post-pandemic workers have flexed their productivity muscle and challenged the traditional norms of the workplace. With this evolution, workers are increasingly telling employers that a "work from anywhere" approach is here to stay. Many companies are now supporting Bring Your Device (BYOD) programs as an answer to this evolution.

Organizations that employ BYOD programs allow team members to utilize personal laptops, smartphones, and other devices, rather than company-owned, and IT-managed devices.

As companies look to attract and retain talent, the flexibility that DaaS provides allows them to address the increasing demands of employees for remote solutions. The resulting improvements in hiring and retaining productive employees are the primary benefits of DaaS.

Enhanced user experiences, empowerment of employees to work and collaborate in a way that works best for them, with the freedom to use familiar devices consistent with the company's BYOD security policies, are but a few of the benefits that the flexibility of DaaS facilitates.


Data theft or destruction, ransomware attacks, hacking, phishing, and denial of service attacks are all threats that organizations are fighting against at any time. This is even more of an issue with a distributed and increasingly remote workforce. DaaS provides users with a secure access point and enhances data security.

Providing multi-factor authentication and conditional access allows companies to put into place controls, systems, and tools needed for access to their networks. If a BYOD device doesn't meet the preset conditions, the virtual desktop allows the employee to continue to work securely.

These critical security concerns are driving requirements for cyber insurance that has very specific stipulations. Companies are increasingly contractually required to verify compliance with security protocols outlined in cyber insurance policies. DaaS simplifies this process.

Additionally, insurance companies typically give companies no more than three months, normally during the policy renewal period, to have these controls in place. That may be impractical, especially with remote workforces, to enforce those requirements unless you have some sort of common platform to deliver a secure desktop. DaaS provides that solution.


DaaS provides a simpler to support disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Organizations can quickly enable secure remote access to apps and desktops, which allows the workforce to stay up and running in the event of a natural disaster or other unplanned events. Users can be added quickly, and the organization pays only for what it uses.

Well-run organizations have worked diligently to establish business continuity or disaster recovery plans. They may have their primary location data center and a secondary or co-located facility to allow for quick recovery. Maintaining those "like for like" resources carries a high cost.

Public cloud services like Microsoft Azure, where systems can be recovered or perhaps run in a warm state, can be significantly more cost-effective and beneficial in terms of speed of service, enhanced flexibility, disaster recovery, and security.

When using a service like Azure for Disaster Recovery, if your primary data center fails, users connect to their normal virtual desktops in Azure, and they generally do not see a difference because when they log on to their Desktop, everything looks the same.


Employees are working with devices that evolve over time. Maybe they get different pieces of software and drivers installed and if an organization has a thousand of these devices there can be a thousand variations across all those devices. The only way to bring those back into compliance is to somehow replace them or reinstall all of them.

A significant management benefit of DaaS is that every time a user logs off and back on, they are getting a very clean refreshed desktop. That is especially beneficial when it comes to patching and updating software as well.

Envision IT worked with a company that projected nearly 35,000 management hours to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Using DaaS, Envision IT provided the appropriate Windows 10 image, did some testing ahead of time, and provided the company with a date when the company's employees could log onto the new desktop. Envision was able to drastically reduce management hours by simply and remotely deploying the migration virtually through DaaS.


Companies can rapidly spin up apps and desktops based on their specific business needs without having to add the cost of additional infrastructure. This is especially beneficial during a merger or acquisition or when there is a surge in the staffing of temporary workers.

One of the misnomers about scalability is that, with DaaS, you're only looking at large scales. Scalability means any scale. During a recent implementation with a client that was moving to DaaS, Envision IT had completed all the necessary testing and the client asked how long it was going to take to bring on all their users. They wanted to go live that day.

The client was instructed to right-click on the machine catalog and indicate how many machines they needed to add. They indicated they wanted to get 150 people online that day. After they clicked "go" they reached their number within five minutes.

Provided that they are in a data center in the cloud that has the necessary capacity, and they do not run into quota limits, the client could be at any scale they need to be – most times within an hour.


If you look at just the cost of DaaS, and you don't look at offset costs, you're not having an ROI discussion. To analyze and implement DaaS properly, you should understand what are you going to be using to deliver it? How do security concerns play into the plan? What does that do for your risk profile and potential cyber insurance costs? What does it cost to do it with DaaS versus on-premise? If you're engaged in a true ROI discussion, you're looking at the labor to maintain all your current physical workstations. When you start to dig in for a more accurate representation of costs, DaaS can look more attractive.

There are many parts of that the ROI discussion that may not be classified as hard dollars as well. Management, security, and the value of the user experience factors should also be considered for a holistic understanding of cost.

For example, working with a regional Acute Care Provider Envision IT started with an ROI calculation attempting to understand the value of expanding virtual desktops in their environment vs. continuing to do what they had been doing with 4,000 physical workstations. In addition to the very significant equipment and license cost offsets, the implementation of DaaS resulted in major savings of $5mm over five years related to IT management and service ticket costs. Plus, it turned out that with productivity gains alone, providers could see one more patient per day in their ambulatory services. That generated substantial incremental revenue. Simply reducing the login wait allowed for more patient encounters.

One additional way to look at cost savings is the "total cost of ownership." When you look at the total cost of ownership of a workstation it's usually somewhere between four and five times the cost of the actual workstation over its lifetime.

DaaS gives organizations extra automation and flexibility. On nights and weekends, it's typical that you don't need all virtual desktop resources running all the time. Policies can be set that can scale back all the machines at a specific time or during non-working hours. This helps reduce cloud costs since you’re not paying for resources when you’re not using them. And users don’t notice because they're not in the system, or capacity can be left to account for shifts.

Labor savings is also a significant factor when analyzing ROI. If you have a problem with a virtual desktop, you reboot it you get a new virtual desktop. That's unlike a physical workstation that goes down. That user is not able to work resulting in productivity losses along with time spent per engineer trying to get it back into working order. It is a lot easier and cost-effective with DaaS to simply log out and log back in.


With DaaS, companies gain additional advantages from close partnerships with key players – Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and vendors. Virtualized apps and desktops from the best public cloud providers like Azure, Google Cloud, or AWS can be quickly provisioned without the need for additional IT resources, and seamlessly integrate with Microsoft 365, Teams, and other daily apps.

At its core, compatibility is "table stakes" for any company exploring DaaS or any MSP recommending it as a solution. While technology has evolved to the point that nearly everything you can get can run on some sort of DaaS platform, occasionally, you can run into an ancient software package, like manufacturing equipment that only runs on Windows XP. That's not a good fit.

Compatibility conversations now tend to be more like "box-checking exercises" to make sure that everything has been tested and is expected to work. Ultimately, if users can't do the job that they need to do it's not a good fit.


The task of providing an easy-to-use, flexible, yet secure end-user computing environment has been a challenge since the early days of the first PC. Providing users a desktop with all their needed applications was a nice compromise as it allowed the application to run locally and provided a good user experience.

With the explosion of applications, OS upgrades, security patches, and the need to work remotely the methods of the past no longer address the needs of today. Virtualized Applications and Desktops have solved these challenges, but deploying and managing your own, on-premises virtual platform is a large investment and takes away focus from your business.

With the success of Cloud Computing, we now can take advantage of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), which gives you all the benefits of Virtualized Applications and Desktops, outsourcing the equipment and management, giving you back the time and resources to focus on your business.

While DaaS solutions are not new, few solutions focus on the end-user experience and security as their main priorities, instead many end up locking you into their platform. This is where Envision partners with Citrix to provide a secure, exceptional user experience while giving you the choice of where your applications and desktops are hosted, whether in the Cloud or even on-premises as your Cloud journey begins.

People have been talking for years that you don't need virtual desktops anymore. What's happening now with security and compliance, the need for flexibility, and work from home, DaaS and its capabilities fill a need in the American workplace more than ever and it is not as complicated nor as expensive as you once thought it was.


So…why Envision IT?
Organizations have a lot of choices when it comes to Managed Service Providers (MSPs.) To answer this important question, let's hear what Beau Smithback and Bill Crahen have to say.

Bill Crahen
You know it's quite fun, that we get invited to talk to a lot of new organizations. I think it's really the vendors, like Citrix, bringing us in because of the success that we have in partnering with them. We partner so well, and we are specialized in the technology that we can be industry agnostic. We focus on the end-user experience and virtual desktops. But that means that we don't do everything. We do partner very well with other organizations and vendors. Just to make sure that the solutions are successful.

Beau Smithback
I think one of the mistakes that MSPs make is that they try to be all things to all people, and so they do everything "Okay." We try to do a limited set of things to really good fits.

That makes us experts in the actual technology that we are working with. We have our Stakeholder Value Seekers (we don't call them Salespeople) spend a lot of time qualifying customers to ensure that we can be successful with them. So, if we start an engagement, our success rate is near 100% because we have vetted the use case ahead of time and we have vetted the customer for a good cultural fit. We are only working with technologies that we are truly experts in and that leads to very good outcomes.

Tags: Business Continuity, Cloud, DaaS, Remote Work, Security, Technology