Virtual servers are an increasingly common method for an organization to access Information technology resources such as processing time, memory, and storage. Virtual desktop infrastructure technologies use virtualization to separate a desktop and its associated applications from its physical devices. Desktop-as-a-service, or DaaS, takes virtualization a step further by using the Software-as-a-Service model to deliver IT resources to a desktop.
IT-as-a-Service fully virtualizes an IT environment by integrating a range of services, including applications, desktops, and servers. This delivery model is often confused with traditional IT outsourcing, which has been a common business practice for decades. However, ITaaS is a distinctly different service from outsourcing, although it may be provided by an IT outsourcer.
A virtualized server, or virtual private server, is functionally equivalent to a physical server for most purposes. A VPS costs much less than an equivalent physical server, although its performance may also be lower, depending on the workloads of the other VPSs on that server.
It’s easier to create and configure a VPS than a physical server because a VPS is defined by software. A VPS also runs its own instance of an operating system, allowing customers with super user access to install virtually any software on that OS.
Security is the primary advantage of a VPS over other resource-sharing models. The individual VPS’ are isolated from each other, so they can be rebooted independently. Running multiple VPSs on a single physical server has become increasingly common since the early 2000s, when hypervisors began to enter general use.
These applications create and manage the resources of virtual machines by allocating a share of the physical server’s resources to each VM, typically while preventing the VM from having any awareness of the resources allocated to other VMs. A VPS generally has limited access to a physical server’s resources due to the large number of VPS’ that typically run on a physical server.
DaaS is based on VDI, which was first implemented by the Multiwin engine that Citrix initially released in 1995. Citrix has since developed Multiwin into XenApp, which was first released in 2008 and is still in use. Today, the term “VDI” is often used to refer to any implementation of desktop virtualization, although it technically applies only to virtualization applications that separate a desktop from physical devices.
DaaS is often used in conjunction with applications that virtualize software and manage user profiles, which provides users with a comprehensive system for managing desktops. Without getting too technical, this delivery model virtualizes all desktop components, allowing users a more secure and flexible desktop delivery model. DaaS also supports a more complete strategy for desktop recovery, since the desktop components are saved on the remote server’s storage media.
This practice allows desktop components to be backed up via the server’s regular backup process, allowing these components to be easily restored in the event that system hardware is damaged or lost. Furthermore, the risk of sensitive data being compromised is much less since data isn’t saved to the user’s local device.
DaaS operates in a client/server computing environment, where applications are executed on a remote server that communicates with a local client over a network. The client may be any end device, such as a PC, laptop, or smartphone. All of the application data remains on the server, which only sends keyboard, mouse, and display information to the client. DaaS is often implemented on a server that uses a hypervisor to run multiple OS instances.
The service provider in the ITaaS delivery model may be an internal department of the client organization or an independent company such as a public cloud provider or IT outsourcing firm. The recipient of ITaaS is often a line of business in an enterprise or an entire small or medium-size business.
An external provider typically offers ITaaS as a managed service, including many options that clients can use to customize their service. The client organization may also compare the capabilities of external providers with those of an internal department when selecting a service provider.
An effective ITaaS provider should focus on meeting the needs indicated by the client’s specific business model. These goals will generally consist of improving employee productivity for the purpose of increasing revenue and profit. Providers should also have deep expertise in the client’s industry to make the best use of specific use cases within that industry.
The primary benefits of ITaaS include the standardization of IT services and increased operational efficiency as a result of the comparison between internal and external providers. It also improves financial transparency by associating the cost of those services more directly with their consumption. Furthermore, the transition from a cost-center model to an ITaaS model often increases an organization’s overall business agility, especially for enterprises.
Providers generally represent ITaaS as an IT solution for performing repeatable business activities that achieve desired business objectives. These solutions act as a self-contained unit, or black box, to end users, while remaining transparent to the client organization’s leaders. Proponents of ITaaS often describe the implementation of ITaaS as a process of adopting specific business models.
These models include self-service consumption models that simplify the consumption of services. For example, catalogs of services for both internal and external providers can improve cost transparency. Consumer-based offerings that support a client’s bring-your-own-device policy are also effective in meeting the needs of end users.
ITaaS implementations also include the adoption of new technologies, particularly those related to cloud platforms. These technologies often improve security, control and regulatory compliance throughout the platform stack. New ITaaS technologies also help increase the platform’s automation and standardization of infrastructure.
New operational models adopted during an ITaaS implementation can improve organizational structure by adding new business and technical roles. The creation of service-oriented processes is also a common result of the ITaaS business model. Furthermore, ITaaS can improve the alignment of a business’s IT infrastructure with its line of business.