VMware, Citrix, Microsoft Desktops-as-a-Service solutions will make 2014 "The Year of DaaS"

DaaS, you could say, has received the ultimate validation with VMware's acquisition of Desktone which has long been the flagship company in the space. Sure, there are others, but Desktone's management, reputation, and technology were the measuring stick to which all other solutions were compared.

DaaS, you could say, has received the ultimate validation with VMware’s acquisition of Desktone which has long been the flagship company in the space. Sure, there are others, but Desktone’s management, reputation, and technology were the measuring stick to which all other solutions were compared. VMware bought the best of breed, and you can bet those IT shops that had little to no awareness of DaaS in the past will be flooded with information in the coming months. 

Both Citrix and Microsoft are hard at work on their own DaaS solutions, and though we’re only seeing RDSH-delivered desktops and apps from Azure right now, the rumors of Project Mohoro lead many to believe we’ll see client-OS desktops delivered at some point. The bottom line is that in 2014, Desktops as a Service will become part of the standard line card, just another deployment vector when choosing to virtualize your desktops. “Great, you’ve decided to use VDI (or RDSH)! Would you like to host that yourself or pay us to do it?”

Brian wrote in an article that if you’re delivering VDI desktops for less than 500 users, you can’t do it better than DaaS providers. He notes that they have teams of experts dedicated to keeping your desktops (and their own company) running, while if you host it yourself you’re stuck trying to find out who the on-call person is. Now that the VDI platform vendors are putting together their own DaaS solutions, it’s hard to even place a number into that argument. It doesn’t matter if you have 50, 500, 5000 users or more, when the VDI platform vendor has their own DaaS solution, you simply can’t do it any better than the actual VDI software vendor running the DaaS platform that they also own.

You could do it cheaper, perhaps, But better? When you have an outage now, you take a look at it and try to fix it yourself. Then, if you run into a wall, you call a partner. When the partner runs into a wall, they call the vendor. With DaaS, you just call the service provider, and chances are they already know there’s a problem, since other people are using the same solution. I’d say that’s better. Of course, each environment is different and it’s quite possible that there are VDI deployments that are too complex for DaaS, but those will become increasingly rare as time goes by.

Granted, the challenges of DaaS still apply. Where does the data live? How do we tie it to AD? How do we handle profiles? What about applications that need to live close to the data? Do we have a private cloud of terminal servers remoting those apps to our desktops hosted in the cloud? Do we have a massive connection between HQ and the DaaS provider? Do we just host it all with the DaaS provider? Or, are we going to shift everything–data, apps, security, management, desktops–to service providers? What if the hosting company goes out of business?

The list of challenges is lengthy, and every time we start talking about DaaS, new viewpoints present themselves that can help sway a company in one direction or another. For instance, on one hand, I don’t have to maintain a data center anymore, but on the other, the SEC/FBI doesn’t care whose servers are adjacent to the one that has the Ponzi scheme records on it during a raid. 

(I just had a thought. Maybe Microsoft not allowing service providers to share hardware for Windows 7 desktops between customers is to protect us from SEC or FBI raids. Thanks, Microsoft!)

So we still have the same challenges to work around, and that could be the force holding DaaS back well into the future, but the times are changing. Windows apps from the datacenter are dwindling, and even though our users might still need a Windows desktop, they are still becoming less and less reliant on services provided from the private datacenter. We have other forces at work, too, like cloud data (another thing each of these DaaS vendors has!). 

DaaS has always been out there in the peripheral vision of companies, but next year I expect it will front and center for every CIO and IT Director. How partners and competitors will deal with solutions from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft remains to be seen, but this coming year DaaS will finally get the treatment it deserves; as a form factor option that you decide upon after you’ve already chosen to deploy datacenter-hosted desktops. 

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Gabe -

Couldn't agree more. A Rising Tide Lifts all Ships, and this is a good day for DaaS. (BTW see blog on same: fountnhead.blogspot.com/.../desktops-as-service-rising-tide-lifts.html ) Growth on the supply-side for DaaS will affect the demand side for sure.

[Putting on my Citrix hat] I must correct you however, because Citrix already has broad reach the cloud-hosted desktop (DaaS) market with 000,000's of production seats sourced from thousands of our partners. The partners (including white-label) use a multi-tenant hosting reference architecture of ours to source apps and/or desktops on a virtualization-neutral platform. Happy to share more info.

We're seeing a significant up-tick in interest in DaaS - mostly from the SMB market. The space is hot!


It will be interesting to see whether DaaS will follow the BPOS  (MSPs hosting Exchange) to Office365 transition.

Three or four years ago, before Microsoft had a multi-tenant cloud service called Office365, Microsoft provided hosted Exchange service called BPOS - MSPS could also offer email as a hosted service. For a while it was Microsoft's fastest growing business, but I don't hear much about that model any more.

The current proposals of MSPs hosting XenApp/XenDesktop/Desktone/View is similar to BPOS. I think we need an Office365 like approach for desktops, where Citrix or VMW directly offers DaaS.


Hi Amitabh,

MS are working on it under code named Mohoro.


Microsoft definitely has the complete stack and experience to do it.


@Amitabh, I don't agree with your BPOS analogy, as I think that is all about single application type delivery. Desktop has always been a point of aggregation for multiple apps that as Gabe points out leads to many more questions.

This is why I think Microsoft is going to focus on published app style models for RDS from Azure as I wrote here www.brianmadden.com/.../with-sinofsky-gone-is-their-hope-for-a-monopoly-hosting-windows-on-azure.aspx

@Gabe I will also challenge a big assumption. "Desktone’s management, reputation, and technology were the measuring stick to which all other solutions were compared" I just have no idea why you think that. If Desktone was that good, it would have much more traction in the enterprise, where they are seen as complex and not worth the effort, hence most of the interested that I have seen is still at the SMB level. I see little data to support enterprise traction in practice.

So 2014 may see a lot of DaaS marketing, but I think most of the traction will be in SMB and that's where Microsoft would do a lot, and Citrix IMO is in a better place with an application model. It's another reason I expect VMware will eventually add this to View/Desktone in a big way to counter Citrix when they realize that Desktone for Desktops for larger customers just won't meet needs outside of edge use cases.

Anyway, I hope to see more progress in this space from all sides.


@appdetective Whether its a VDI desktop delivered as a service or an app delivered via RDS as a service, the first one out of Citrix/VMW/Microsoft that offers the service wins. Even in the early days of XenDesktop there was a lot of interest from customers to consume desktops as a service at $30-$50/user/month.


@Amitabh They say that, until they think about app latency to the cloud they are introducing, and why I think it's going to be a heavy RDS app game, even if desktop is used as the marketing hook for many. If there is any doubts that the target market for Microsoft any time soon is not going to be SMB see


This is predictable Microsoft. Broad market appeal to lowest common denominator.  I can see Citrix trying to add value on top to counter a move to VMware's cloud. I doubt we'll see Citrix build their own app cloud anytime soon, if ever.


If Microsoft gets serious about the DaaS / Cloud RDSH market, they will be hard to beat. VMware may have a chance if they move quickly to establish themselves, and create an efficient mechanism for Cloud-bursting. If Citrix partners with Amazon that would be very interesting, but otherwise ...