VDI vs DaaS—Which is Better?

Last Updated:
May 30, 2023

VDI vs Citrix DaaS—Which is Better?

At first glance, Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) technologies appear to be analogous.

But are they?  At a basic level, VDI and DaaS are both technologies that give users anywhere/anytime access to virtual desktops, delivering a complete end user computing environment and a predetermined set of corporate-approved applications. Most IT organizations maintain several application sets (called golden images), each aligned with an employee role type.

VDI and DaaS free IT from the tasks related to installing, updating, and tracking software and operating systems on end user machines. Instead, IT manages and maintains a finite set of golden images. Because VDI and DaaS separate the desktop environment and applications from the operating system, VDI and DaaS also make it possible for end user devices to have a longer useful life because older devices can access virtual desktops without compatibility issues, reducing end user device replacement costs.

Where VDI and DaaS primarily differ is 1) the location of the hardware and software infrastructure that enables a virtual desktop, and 2) the organization managing that infrastructure. And location and infrastructure management drive a host of differences that widen the gap between the two terms.

VDI vs DaaS – Location and Management

VDI can be hosted in a corporate data center or in a private cloud environment. If hosting is done in a corporate data center, corporate IT is responsible for purchasing, implementing, managing, securing, and maintaining all the hardware and software used in the implementation and for supporting end users. If the hosting is done in a private cloud by a managed provider, the provider will most likely manage and maintain the hardware for corporate IT. VDI computing resources are single-tenant, i.e., all dedicated to a single organization.

In contrast, DaaS is hosted in a public or private cloud and the implementation is managedby a third-party provider. Corporate IT will usually define the applications included in the desktop, while the provider purchases, implements, manages, and secures all hardware and software, and provides end user support, freeing corporate IT to focus on more strategic corporate efforts. However, with DaaS, multiple companies share the cloud provider’s resources (aka multi-tenant), so one client’s use of resources or security can affect other clients in unforeseen ways.  

VDI vs DaaS – Control and Economics

Owning an entire VDI implementation is a mixed blessing. While corporate IT controls the configuration, resource distribution, data, and security, they are also responsible for management, maintenance, and support, which is a huge undertaking and leaves far less time for strategic planning and projects. Additionally, hardware is considered a capital expense, taking more time to justify and acquire than services, and the up-front cost is significant.

With DaaS, the vendor controls every element of the infrastructure, data management, and security, and the client may not have complete visibility into these critical elements. But up-front costs are far less, and an organization can be up and running with DaaS in far less time than it takes to build out a corporate datacenter. Additionally, DaaS vendors use a subscription pricing model, which is not considered a capital expense, making DaaS easier pay for from a budgeting perspective.

VDI vs DaaS – Flexibility

VDI deployments typically take a long time to set up and are difficult to change. Scaling up to accommodate corporate growth or acquisition means purchasing and installing more hardware, which is a lengthy and expensive process. Companies that are undergoing significant change or employ a seasonal workforce may find themselves paying for computing infrastructure that’s underutilized at certain times of the year or indefinitely—or may find that they are unable to support growth in a timely manner.

In contrast, DaaS environments can be up and running quickly and can scale quickly because all the client needs to do is increase the number of desktops or user licenses as hardware resources and bandwidth are the provider’s responsibility.

VDI vs DaaS—Which is Better?

If control and data security are paramount to your organization, VDI is the best choice, despite the up-front costs, ongoing maintenance responsibilities, and inflexibility.

If flexibility, speed, and low start-up costs are preeminent for your organization, DaaS is the best choice—as long as management is willing to concede control to the provider.

For independent software vendors (ISVs) selling Windows™ applications, who need to consider their employees AND their customers, the answer is different.

ISVs should consider DaaS vs VDI in their role as an employer who needs to provide employees with the computing tools needed to do their job. But, in their role as an ISV, does using DaaS or VDI to deliver one or two Windows applications to a customer make sense? Not really! DaaS and VDI are built to deliver a complete user environment and applications and require considerable computing power to do it—certainly more resources than an application publishing tool like GO-Global™ needs to do the job.

GO-Global is purpose-built for ISVs who want to provide their customers with Windows applications from any cloud. Its concurrent user subscription model aligns well with most ISVs’ subscription model—and ISVs who move to GO-Global find that they save up to 70% over the cost of VDI or DaaS.

To learn more about GO-Global’s application publishing solution, request a demo or download a free 30-day trial.