Does free Desktop as a Service exist?

By Lucy Wright - January 31, 2019

You might have heard of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and wondered what it is. Or maybe you want to start using Desktop as a Service, but think it will be too expensive and want to find a free alternative.

If you are looking for a free DaaS service, a Google search will bring up some free solutions which on the surface might seem like a great option. After all, who doesn't want something for nothing?!

But if you look a little more closely, you'll usually find there's little to be gained by using a free DaaS service, and plenty by using a subscription service (which is often a lot more affordable than many businesses realise).

In this blog, we discuss some of the key reasons why it's better to use paid-for Desktop as a Service instead of a free solution. But first, let's establish exactly what Desktop as a Service is.

What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)?

In the simplest terms, Desktop as a Service lets users access their applications, files and emails wherever they need to and from any device.

The desktop is hosted in the cloud and is maintained by a Managed Service Provider (MSP). The service works on a subscription basis. This setup is known as a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

In general, customers manage the apps and data, and the MSP manages the VDI. One common reason desktop management is outsourced is that it can be expensive for a business, especially an SME, to set-up and deploy the desktop themselves.

Other benefits of using Desktop as a Service include:

  • Cost-effectiveness - DaaS can reduce total cost ownership and capital expenditure on hardware dramatically. On average, a VDI costs two times less than a traditional PC because of its longevity, lower power consumption and absence of a hard disk. You also save money on expensive upgrades.
  • Better security and compliance - because using a virtual desktop means on sensitive data is stored on the hard drive, it makes it a more secure option than using traditional personal computers. If it occurs at all, hacking is less of a problem, and data can be continuously backed up in case of a disaster.
  • Flexibility - virtual desktops can be deployed quickly, as can new applications and software. You can quickly scale up if new users need to be adding, and scale back if users need to be removed.
  • Keeps remote workers connected - a managed desktop service lets users access the files, documents, data and emails they need from anywhere, on any device with an internet connection. Remote working has never been more simple, and your organisation stays agile. 

Can you get free Desktop as a Service?

VDI software can be expensive, and not every organisation can afford one. There are, however, some free VDI solutions available which are usually either open source solutions which you can host yourself or free versions of existing enterprise offerings.

Sounds great, right?

Well, not really. There are a few problems with free VDI solutions, which we will look at now.

  • Options are limited - there are not many free VDI services to begin with, and those that do exist usually have a catch. There are five well-known ones: Hyper-V, Amazon WorkSpaces, flexVDI, Xen and FOSS-Cloud. So, your choice of provider is limited to begin with.
  • There are usually restrictions -  most of the free services come with restrictions that limit what you can use them for. For example, Hyper-V doesn't let you host Windows accounts without paying for a licence, but you can run Linux Guest for free. When you combine the limited number of free service with the restrictions they impose, there really is very little choice and scope for what you can do with a free service.
  • Often a free trial, not a free service - some free VDIs are only free for a limited period. Amazon WorkSpaces, for example, offers users two bundled workspaces with 40 hours usage per month; but this only lasts for two months.  Then you would have to upgrade to get the service at the scale you need. 
  • You incur other costs - you might think you're saving money by using a free VDI, but you will usually incur costs other than the subscription fee that comes with paid services. These include costs associated with setting up, expanding and maintaining the VDI. Certain features might not be accessible unless you pay for the service, or you might have a free trial for a limited period, after which you have to pay.  

Why should you pay for Desktop as a Service?

If you want the full DaaS experience and all the benefits that come with it, you will need to pay for the service. The good news is, it can be very affordable and represents good ROI for most companies.

DaaS is provided on a subscription basis, which makes it a predictable cost. You can change the number of desktops at any time, so you only pay for what you use, which makes it a cost-effective solution. By using DaaS, you also save money on the updates needed to keep your desktop current. Core update your desktop twice a year with the latest features and releases. We also perform monthly quality updates, so you know you are always using the most current version.

The other benefit of using a paid DaaS is the round the clock support that comes with it. MSPs like Core can include 24/7 monitoring to spot and troubleshoot issues as they occur.

If you would like to discuss our Desktop as a Service offering or to learn more about how DaaS could work for your organisation, contact Core here or call us on 020 7626 0561.

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