Windows Virtual Desktop for law firms. The future. Finally.

Desktop as a Service – Windows Virtual Desktop

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is by no means a new idea, with service providers as far back as 2005 attempting to deliver remote desktop experiences from data centres, but now begins a new chapter in its development and application.

The idea of being able to access applications from any location and using any device has always been attractive, but the technology of the day, particularly the available bandwidth, meant that the poor user experience failed to drive greater acceptance of DaaS.

Now the technical issues have been resolved and with 5G promises data speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G, the shift towards DaaS take-up seems set to accelerate, especially after Microsoft announced a revamp of its Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service.

After a quiet launch in September last year, Microsoft is planning a ‘spring update’ that it hopes will transform WVD into a true Azure service and has made it available in preview.

The timing appears fortunate given the global events of the last few months, but the shift towards remote working was already happening, as highlighted by a number of statistics.

Some benefits

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported a doubling of the number of people working from home between 2008 and 2018, whilst predicting more than 50% of the UK workforce would be working remotely by the end of 2020.

The benefits to employees are obvious, with a re-balancing of work and life commitments chief amongst them, alongside the removal of the daily commute and associated costs. Often forgotten is the potential cost savings for the employer too.

Various estimates put the cost associated with each employee in a physical office at around £5000, but these were made prior to social distancing guidelines requiring more space for each person at work – it’s easy to see why a dispersed team might appeal to occupiers of Grade A city-centre offices.

The growth in remote working is supported by the latest figures from Microsoft, who report demand for their cloud services has increased by a massive 775% during the lockdown, while the use of Windows Virtual Desktop is three times higher than previously.

Making remote simple with desktop as a service

In simple terms DaaS, allows any organisation to deliver virtual desktops to any devices being used by employees, from any location. It switches the focus of maintaining software from the organisation’s IT department to the DaaS provider themselves.

Practically speaking, DaaS is generally offered via subscription and utilises a multitenant structure, which means that one instance of the software runs on a server and can be accessed by multiple users in what is also known as a ‘shared system’.

Once a business has chosen a DaaS provider they hand over responsibility for factors such as upgrades, data backup, storage, maintenance and security, all of which are then managed for them by the service provider.

One of the reasons DaaS is set to become the choice for many organisations is that although it is a form of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), most of the heavy lifting is done by the service provider, not the organisation buying the service.

The traditional VDI model involves the organisation itself providing virtual desktops for its employees, hosted within on-site data centres, which typically requires a significant initial outlay and then a skilled IT team to handle everything, from hardware upgrades to security and backup.

Retaining control of what matters

Any organisation switching to DaaS is not losing complete control as some might fear. They are still free to manage aspects of delivery such as the operating system, anti-virus software and other desktop related tasks.

Given the freedom which DaaS offers to employees, enabling them to access and utilise centralised systems from anywhere, anytime, using any device, this degree of control is vital if the employer is to keep a grip of their systems, the work their employees are delivering and the varying levels of access likely to be needed.

The new approach is all about simplicity and ensuring technology is a tool to allow organisations to concentrate on what they do best, rather than worry about their IT systems and how it works.

No more wiping desktop computers for personnel changes, with DaaS, simply switch off one virtual desktop and on-board the new user to their desktop, on the same physical machine.

Having established the benefits of DaaS, next time we look in more detail at what is likely to quickly become the biggest name in the arena, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), which comes with simplified management and licensing model, all via Microsoft Azure.

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