Which cloud-based desktop service might be right for your organization?

September 4th, 2020

Executive Summary:
Cloud desktops, hosted desktops, or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) from Amazon, Microsoft, VMWare, or Citrix might be good choices if you lead a small- or medium-sized operation. At the enterprise level, economies of scale still give the edge to in-house solutions.

In March of this year, business.com updated their comparison article “The Best Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Providers of 2020”. The entire article, by staff writer Joshua Stowers, is excellent–but for those with too much on their plate, here’s a brief run-down.

No “one-size fits all” solution
Every business is different, with different criteria for how its team-members use their computer desktops. Also, cloud desktop providers have different strengths, so there isn’t a single vendor that will be right for all use-cases. Accordingly, Stowers outlines recommended solutions for different desired outcomes.

How were these picks made?
A business.com team first reviewed what was available in the market, narrowed-down the choices to eight contenders, then did a deep-dive on these eight to select their recommendations.

What are the best options?
Here are the four solutions the team selected, based on four sets of broad criteria:

Uptime/Scalability: VMWare Horizon Cloud
Small Business: Amazon Workspaces
Backup/Failover: Azure
Mobile Workforce: Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

Stowers provides a thorough review for each recommended solution, including its strengths, its weaknesses, and why it’s the best choice for the criteria in question.

Other considerations
The article also goes into some depth regarding the various considerations involved in moving to a cloud-based desktop service. It discusses pricing (and why it’s not as simple we would like), what the hosted desktop model brings to the table, and what it leaves to be desired. The best parts here include a breakdown of different pricing scenarios, an explanation of the different types of hosted desktops, and definitions of the key features customers should look for in a hosted solution.

Which customers will benefit the most?
Stowers is straightforward in his assessment that, for the moment at least, cloud-hosted desktops are a play for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the money to stand-up a self-hosted environment, and who don’t necessarily need to hire an in-house IT staff.

For the enterprise, Stowers concludes it’s still more cost-effective to build and support your own desktop-hosting environment in-house, although he implies that may change going forward. He seems convinced hosted desktops are the future, and where the numbers work, it makes sense to consider them for your organization.

Next Steps:
Share With — 
CTO, CIO, IT Director

Action Items — 
• Comprehensively review computer desktop usage in your organization.
• Determine your top candidates for cloud-hosted desktop providers, given your use-case.
• Conduct a free trial (if available) of one or more of your top candidates.
• If you find a candidate that meets your needs, migrate your organization’s desktops to the cloud.

Brian S. Pauls is the founder and vCTO of Cloudessy. He figures if you’re going to go to have a desktop, it might as well be in the cloud where you can get to it from anywhere. Brian blogs about cloud computing and organizational culture at cloudessy.com.