Check out the hard questions we're trying to answer for our upcoming DaaS book. What are we missing?

UPDATE March 2014: Our book is done! Details here.

UPDATE March 2014: Our book is done! Details here.

We've mentioned several times that we believe 2014 will be the Year of DaaS. Even if only a small percentage of companies actually move their desktops to the public cloud, 2014 will definitely be the year that everyone is talking about DaaS. We believe this so much that we're writing a book about DaaS which we'll publish in the first quarter of the year.

As a quick background on this book, our DaaS book will not be a revision of our recent VDI Delusion and VDI Reality books. Instead this is a new book written from scratch. That said, today's DaaS technologies are essentially VDI that you pay someone else for, so there will be some similarities in terms of use cases, technical maturities, cost analyses, etc.

We also understand that one of the hot trends now is to convert your internal IT offerings into IT-as-a-Service. So you could argue that all VDI is DaaS, and that there's internally-hosted DaaS (what we used to just call "VDI") and externally-hosted VDI (what we call "DaaS" now). We'll be focusing on the externally-hosted, cloud-based, pay-for-it-as-a-service type of DaaS in the new book.

While we're on the topic of DaaS, I'll reiterate something that we discussed on the podcast last week: While I believe that virtually all VDI desktops ought to be paid for and operated by someone other than the enterprise, I do not believe that all Windows desktops should be VDI. In other words even with DaaS, you still have to look at your needs and use cases and figure out which of your desktops are appropriate candidates to move to a datacenter. Only then can you decide whether you should run that datacenter yourself (traditional VDI) or just pay someone else to do it (DaaS).

As for the book, we're in the process of interviewing DaaS providers, partners, customers, consultants, analysts, and everyone else we can talk to about this space. We're especially interested in customers who have moved to DaaS, customers who evaluated DaaS and ultimately decided to stick with internal VDI, and customers who tried DaaS and regretted it. (Contact us if you'd like to share your experiences!)

We created a list of all the topics we'd like to cover and the "hard" questions we want to answers. I've pasted the list here and I'm curious as to your thoughts? What are we missing? What else should we think about?

  • Understanding VDI: The technology powering DaaS
  • VDI (Windows Desktop) versus RDSH (Windows Server) approaches to DaaS
  • Dealing with licensing (both Microsoft Windows and third party apps)
  • Migrating to DaaS
  • If you move to DaaS, where do you applications and data live?
  • Persistent images versus shared?
  • Understanding DaaS security. Is cloud-based DaaS more secure than on-premises DaaS? What about security compared to traditional laptops?
  • Is DaaS easier to manage? What management tasks to the DaaS providers really handle, and what do you have to do on your own?
  • If you go to DaaS, can you ever go back?
  • Who are the right users for DaaS?
  • Do today's technologies mean you can realistically deliver an acceptable DaaS solution?
  • Do you build your own DaaS to run internally? If so, do you run your servers on site or collocate them at a provider?
  • How do you choose a DaaS provider?
  • Should you care about the technologies and platforms your DaaS provider uses?
  • What happens if your DaaS provider goes out of business?
  • Understanding pricing (and how cost models lie). What do you really get for the low monthly fee? What's missing?
  • Can you deploy and manage applications and patches in the new DaaS desktops in the same way as your physical ones?
  • Does DaaS mean you're essentially making all of your desktop users "remote" (since they're not going to be on your network)?
  • Will it be more difficult for DaaS users to access corporate apps?
  • Will everyone in the company now get the "remote user" experience? And if so, is that good or bad?
  • What about laptop users who want to work offline? Is 3G and 4G really fast enough? What about airplanes?
  • Can your office infrastructure handle all the users using a DaaS desktop all day? How much bandwidth do you really need?
  • How do you handle user-installed applications? Who supports those?
  • Do these new DaaS desktops hook into your corporate domain?
  • What exact management is the DaaS provider providing? Who does patching? Does it come with Antivirus? Is it the same antivirus you use with your current desktops?
  • Does DaaS mean you have to buy thin clients for all our users? Or that you "get" to?
  • Does DaaS mean you get out of the laptop business all together?
  • So users can use iPads now?
  • Does DaaS mean that for remote offices, you can empty out the server closets and just give everyone Internet?
  • Do you fire all our desktop support folks now?
  • What apps do users need really? Office 365 isn't good enough?
  • Why are we even talking about desktops anymore? It's all web apps. If we go through the pain of answering these questions, shouldn't we just get out of the job of Windows client management in general?
  • Why does someone need DaaS if everything we do is just web apps and Office?
  • Should you use DaaS for single Windows applications here and there, or should you provide a full "desktop" to our users?
  • So wait, I have to log into a remote DaaS desktop just to get a browser?
  • In the past it made sense for IT to manage Windows because it ran on the computer that IT gave to the user. But if the user brings his or her own laptop that they manage on their own, why is IT in the business of managing a virtual Windows desktop then?
  • If we're going to spend all this effort "transforming" to get to DaaS, but then we just end up with outsourced Windows, isn't that more of the same thing we've been doing for the past 20 years? Why go through the effort to end there? Why not do that effort and end up with no managed Windows clients‹just web apps and Office 365?
  • What about Windows 8.1's "loosely" connected features like Workplace Join. Can't we just do that instead of DaaS?
  • How do you convince people to use your DaaS desktop when their own laptop right there already has a browser and a copy of Office?
  • How hard will it be to train users to use remote desktops? "What? You mean there are two Start Buttons now?"
  • Can users put their kittens and kids in the DaaS?
  • What's the relationship between the laptop users have been using for the past three years (with all their stuff on it) and the "new" DaaS?
  • How do you migrate the past three years worth of user crap into the DaaS? Or do you migrate it? If so, do you want to take on that risk? Does the DaaS provider? If not, where does it go?
  • What about all the user settings? How do you migrate those over? All these users have to re-setup everything from scratch? ("DaaS Week" is going to be a rough one!)
  • If 2014 is the year of DaaS, is that a dream come true or your worst nightmare?
  • If VDI is really "just a form factor change," then what's the big deal about DaaS?
  • Shouldn't we be more excited about the year we stop managing Windows desktop OSes? (Wait, isn't that DaaS? Or is it?)

Share your thoughts in the comments, good, bad, or otherwise.

Program Note: Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, so no new blog posts until Monday.

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Can my DaaS provider also manage my laptop today?  (eg. XenDesktop local)  Should it?

If the desktop is a logical container for Data + Apps + User settings, does that mean MAM/MDM should be included within the definition of DaaS?  Or are we just talking about a remote desktop?

Why would someone want to move to DaaS in the first place?

Is DaaS more or less suitable for both small business and large enterprises?  Why?

What is an Enterprise App Store, and should my DaaS provider have this in their service catalog?

Is DaaS really just pay-as-you-go Desktops, or is it all the fluffy managed service, support and SLA stuff as well?


Will DaaS be superseded by "Windows as middleware"? That means people moving off of the Windows Desktop, with app publishing (from the Cloud or wherever) as the means of handling the long tail



Great start. I have spent the past few years answering the questions that prospective Desktone DaaS customers have.  We have experienced the challenges of setting up pilots and converting users to DaaS.  After a first read of your list I do have a lot of questions and some things to add.   I will post some thoughts and see if you are interested in a more in depth conversation.  


• Why DaaS will fail if you image is not optimized

• IT is only as good as the desktops they deliver

• How to monitor performance

• Some applications don’t work – believe it or just wait until you find the one that destroys your image.

• It really is about the image!!!

• If you move to DaaS, where do you applications and data live?

• Multifactor authentication – what works, what does not?

• Persistent images versus shared?  Isn’t this persistent versus non-persitent?

• Security concerns with moving to the cloud

• Are you okay opening up your Active Directory?

• Why are your LDAP Queries so large?

• Are there ways to control who can connect to a desktop?

• Do we need to “register” end point devices?

• How do we register end point devices?

• Who will help you when it doesn’t work because your image is terrible?

• What are the criteria for DaaS at your enterprise?

• It only works as good as your connection.

• Some providers will not be able to help you when your image fails because of an update or application change…what will you do then?

• DaaS is new and we will see a lot of “marginal” providers come and go in this business…it is important to ask for financial data.

• If the price is too good to be true…run!

• Do you need a hybrid model with desktops running from your data center and the cloud?

• Does it matter if you cannot manage all your desktops from one console?

• DaaS is as good as your connection!!!

• Can you network handle DaaS – Do you have the ability to setup QOS?  

• Will Bandwidth and new networking equipment be too expensive?

• If all your data and desktops are in the cloud do you need a firewall?

• Is your DaaS provider flexible or do they only offer a “package” that you cannot change?

• Do you consider XenApp DaaS?

• Would it be nice if Windows were not needed – we all know it is here to stay for a very long time.

• VMware and Citrix can provide users want a hybrid desktop experience..Is DaaS the whole solution or just part of it?

• Maybe cheap private cloud storage has a use after all?

• Do solutions that export profiles, data and applications and apply them to a base image help solve these problems?

• Every company is a different and DaaS provider needs to work with each one to resolve issues…this is not a rubber stamp.

• If your IT is really that complicated – maybe it is time to ask why?

• DaaS by itself is pretty useless – if it configured well, optimized and connected to applications (data) in a meaningful way then it can eliminate some pain.  If it is not it can create a lot of pain.  The DaaS provider you choose will be the pivot point between success and failure.

• It is hard to get excited about a Windows Desktop – it is easy to get excited about a workspace you can take with you that boosts your productivity.


Admin privilege levels should be clearly defined:

- Who's the super user and what can they admin (hoster)?

- What parts are under admin control of the customer IT?

- Which parts do they respectively own and how are they isolated?