I am making an assumption that those reading this article have at least a basic understanding of what DaaS or VDI is, so we will jump right into it. I will however, first talk about the difference between DaaS and PaaS. There are many vendors out there that claim to be DaaS providers, when in fact they are more of a PaaS provider. These providers usually host other services like virtual servers, databases, email and a variety of other systems. The major difference comes down to one key component: do you need to bring experience to the table or not? With true DaaS, the provider includes all the expertise to run the entire platform and all the supporting services for a successful VDI deployment.
Now that we have established what DaaS is and is not, we will dig in deeper to the obstacles that can trip up a DaaS implementation from the get-go. When vetting DaaS providers, if you notice any of these red flags I highly recommend considering a different vendor to ensure your process is successful and obstacle-free.
The Right Focus
Is the DaaS service provider’s primary focus virtual desktops as a service? There are many providers that started out providing other services like the PaaS providers, but customer demand forced them into the DaaS hosting market. Many times these providers do not have the necessary expertise on staff to run VDI, and customer experience suffers as a result. VDI isn’t your normal three-tiered server architecture product; being successful takes a full team of people who are very familiar with networking, storage, virtualization, plus specialty VDI applications like a VMware, Citrix, Parallels, Microsoft VDI or KVM.
Most users that use systems like email or access databases hosted by their provider do not notice a few seconds here or there of delay. When you put their desktop in the datacenter or cloud, a few second glitch can send your end users into a revolt. If you are waiting on your cursor and typing to catch up in your virtual desktop, you immediately start losing productivity. Having a provider that does not know how to build out the infrastructure to support DaaS or know how to properly allocate resources to the desktops, will create a great hurdle to a successful DaaS deployment.
Another potential challenge stems from using off-the-shelf servers and storage to host VDI. The same system used for SQL or Exchange hosting does not always work for virtual desktop deployments. Typical workloads related to those two products tend to be predictable in their behavior of reads and writes. When you talk about VDI, end users are more sporadic and unpredictable. With desktops in the datacenter, you introduce bottlenecks like boot and login storms, which can bring a network and storage array to its knees. Organizations with shift-based workers can really amplify these surges, which often result in derogated end user performance or production workloads becoming unreachable.
DaaS providers have to worry about on-boarding customers, and how to integrate the desktops with their customer’s current infrastructure. During the sales process, is the provider able to accurately gather your specific requirements? A successful deployment starts in the sales cycle; without proper expertise, implementations can fail before it even gets started.
Selecting a provider that has project managers and client services reps that understand VDI and its intricacies is critical, from project start to finish. Once you have been on boarded, what does support look like? Are you able to access experienced VDI engineers to assist with ongoing maintenance and upgrades? Will the engineers that assist on the implementation be the same engineers supporting post implementation? Having the same engineers that built the environment and understand your build and your business is a significant value add when finding the right service provider.
True Compliant Solutions
Compliance can be an overwhelmingly large stumbling block. Many providers claim they have compliant environments, until you peel back the layers and discover the items they are taking responsibility for. Take HIPAA or PCI compliance for example, service providers should be able to provide you a responsibilities matrix, which outlines in detail who is responsible for each of the controls. Finding a service provider that is an expert in compliance is one of the most critical factors in selecting a vendor. Your virtual desktops can expose increased security risks if the compliance posture is weak or immature.
Avoid the Obstacles
As you are selecting a service provider, each of these components are things that you will want to strongly consider taking a closer look at to ensure a successful VDI implementation. There are business-facing challenges to implementing DaaS or VDI, such as budget, executive buy in or support, and user adoption; but without a strong technical and solution foundation, the implementation doesn’t have a chance of getting off the ground. It’s best to avoid these obstacles from the very beginning than to deal with the ramifications later.
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