Horizon Air Desktop DR is a fine idea, but at the end of the day, still DaaS (for better or worse)

We learned at VMworld Europe that VMware sees disaster recovery as a problem that they can address with cloud services. Currently, customers build elaborate colocation sites or offsite DR facilities with PCs and servers (sometimes the previous generation of each) that they then have to patch and maintain.

We learned at VMworld Europe that VMware sees disaster recovery as a problem that they can address with cloud services. Currently, customers build elaborate colocation sites or offsite DR facilities with PCs and servers (sometimes the previous generation of each) that they then have to patch and maintain. To alleviate this, VMware wants their customers to leverage the Horizon Air solution for desktop disaster recovery. They’ve even created a standalone offering called Horizon Air Desktop DR.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and while it seems like a slam-dunk idea, take a step back and consider the reasons most companies don’t move to DaaS in the first place. The reasons are rarely technical, at least initially. Most organizations have trust issues with the provider, or think they can do it better themselves. They worry about SLAs, and in the case of disaster recovery, they worry that the service provider can handle an instant impact of potentially thousands of desktops (or multiples of that in the event several companies are affected in a regional disaster) all coming online at once as opposed to the normal process that would scale up the number of desktops.

After those issues, which are largely mental, there are the other issues of integration to AD, where the data lives, access to backend services (what good are desktops in the cloud if they can’t access the apps that still live in the datacenter), and a bunch of other technical things.

Using DaaS as a DR solution means that not only have you come to terms with the mental challenges, but that you’ve also solved the technical challenges that were standing in the way of a DaaS rollout. In that case, there’s a good chance that you’d already be a DaaS user, and that you wouldn’t have to worry about DaaS as a DR solution.

I mentioned this to VMware, and they said that there are customers that want this, some in a limited capacity. Bursting for interns was one example given, but I don’t consider that DR, I consider that a fundamental use case for DaaS that a customer could accomplish with just about any provider on any platform.

So I’m not sold on Horizon Air Desktop DR (not just VMware, but using DaaS as DR or bursting in general) as a standalone solution. If VMware is trying to use it as another vector to convert customers from on-premises desktops to cloud, that’s ok. Even then it’s just a tool to get organizations thinking about how to clear the mental and technical hurdles on the way to DaaS adoption. The thing is, once they’ve done that they no longer have any reasons to not do DaaS all the way.

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Hi Gabe, I agree with a number of your points around more thought being required around issues such as where does app data live, how are profiles managed and how will printing work. It strikes me that if you go to all this effort to make sure that your 'DR desktops' will work in the cloud, and you do need to, then why not just use them day to day rather than buying this' insurance policy'. Also isn't one of the inherent benefits of DaaS the ability to instantly scale up and down the number of required desktops? Is a specific cloud DR platform really required for you to have the ability to move to cloud desktops quickly in the event of a major issue with normal desktop access? Regards, Norman


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Hey Gabe


For any organization that is considering workforce continuity, Horizon Air Desktop DR is a great solution. If a customer has tried doing any sort of physical desktop DR, they have the same issues - they need to work with a 3rd party to ensure their desktop images are up to date, they have AD integration, and network connectivity back to the datacenter so that when they do declare a disaster those workers can continue working. That type of work does not happen instantly. Getting desktop images configured, AD integration and networking (S2S VPN or MPLS) up and going for cloud-hosted desktops takes some organizations weeks to do. So while the cloud can scale up or down as needed, a customer in disaster mode needs cloud-hosted desktops functioning and ready now, they don’t have the luxury of waiting. With Horizon Air Desktop DR, the customer will have gone through that work already and with that insurance policy can declare a disaster and have capacity ready for them.


Also, with Horizon Air Desktop DR, a customer can have this insurance policy at a fraction of the cost, as little as $5/desktop/month. That's a lot cheaper than full time DaaS, especially when all the customer wants is that insurance policy. And it’s a lot cheaper than trying to do on-premises VDI to have capacity waiting around in case disaster strikes. The cloud enables us to do this at a price where any customer can benefit even if it’s just for their most critical users.


So even if the customer may not be comfortable/familiar with DaaS, the reality is that these desktops are meant to be used in the case of a natural or manmade disaster. They're not full-time desktops. So while the customer may not be gun-ho with DaaS, this is a great solution for that use case where they need to get end users back working with a functional desktop that they may only use for 1-2 weeks during disaster mode.


We’d love to get a chance to brief you in more detail on the solution. I handle product marketing for Horizon Air services and can get the right folks to participate. thx


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