If DaaS is your first move to the cloud, you're doing it wrong

I had a conversation with someone who was excited about moving his VDI desktops to the cloud.

Last month in an article titled, DaaS Incrementalism, I detailed all the "other" stuff you most likely need in the cloud in order to move your desktops to the cloud, including file servers, authentication, replication services, databases, etc.

Then at BriForum in Boston a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone who was excited about moving his VDI desktops to the cloud. He told me that his company hadn't really embraced the cloud yet, but that they were excited to begin and figured that DaaS would be a great starting point because "Hey, these are just desktops."

I stopped him right there and said that if his company is not doing anything with the cloud, I would absolutely not start with desktops. In fact—based in part on everything mentioned in that incrementalism article—desktops might actually be the last thing you should move to the cloud!

In other words, if your organization is not embracing the cloud today, start with something easy. (And that something is not desktops!)

It's easy to move enterprise file sync or email to the cloud, and I like to start with those for several reasons.

  • They're easier and less complex than desktops. Your migration time is shorter and you can chalk up a "win" faster.
  • They're more mature, as there are tens of millions of enterprise users leveraging these services today, versus DaaS users measured in the hundreds of thousands.
  • They'll most likely benefit everyone in your company, versus a few random groups for DaaS.
  • They are hands-down "better" and more feature rich than what you can offer with your own on-premises solutions.
  • They let you dip your toes in the water of public/private/hybrid cloud integration, as you figure out how to extend your corporate authentication to the cloud and set up secure tunnels between your offices and your cloud providers.
  • And, most importantly, having these (well, enterprise file sync and AD extension at least) in the cloud now will make your DaaS migration easier.

The other angle to this is that we spent a lot of words in our DaaS book trying to allay the fears of those who weren't comfortable with the cloud. Interestingly in subsequent conversations, I've found myself trying to "convince" people that the cloud was mature and the cloud was safe. Eventually it hit me: If you're not comfortable with the cloud, it's most likely because you don't have much (or you haven't had a positive) experience with it.

If that's the case, you probably don't want to start start down that path with DaaS. Pick some easy things and move them first. Build a relationship with a cloud provider and learn how they operate, how the communicate during outages, and whether your CEO will blame you if email is down for ten minutes on a Sunday. Then once you ("you" as in "you" and "you" as in "your company") are comfortable with that, start thinking about desktops.

But please don't make desktops your first foray into the cloud!

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I don't know that the title of this article references the sentiment you are conveying.  Without question if the customer is not comfortable with "cloud", or what I prefer to call "Hybrid-Branch Office" computing, there is no point in going there.

The unique value proposition of DaaS is offering the Make It or Buy It decision to the business.  Beyond the OpEx vs. CapEx discussion, the next value driver is Time-to-Value.   As example with DaaS the ability to provision 1000 desktops happens in a matter of days when compared to VDI onsite.  The value of this agility to the business is worth consideration in my view (I have a bias of course).

Without question, not every desktop will be a DaaS desktop.  Make It or Buy It offers the business the opportunity to right size the cost model while leveraging the best value each service has to offer.    Some businesses are just not comfortable with DaaS Hybrid Branch computing, and as such they will sit on the sidelines.  For those that are taking up the DaaS value proposition, they are moving faster than ever before with regard to VDI service delivery, and that is a very good thing...


My problem with Cloud services so far is that IT dept is afraid of committing to an external service provider to give a service to its user.  Ok, when the cloud service is down you blame the provider but who does the company blames?  The IT dept.  What IT director or CIO would want to be faulted for putting their user at risk unless there is ownership and control.


Data and Email to the cloud is not easy due to compliance. Desktop if it's cheaper for some use cases is actually less risky.