Select Page

What is DaaS (Desktop as a Service)?

by Jack Bedell-Pearce
| June 25, 2024 |

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is one of the many names given to the service of providing virtual desktops to end users, over the internet.  Cloud2Me is a DaaS provider and most of our end users are accountants. Being able to access your work desktop from anywhere, means hybrid and remote working becomes easier to adopt, plus it is often more secure and easier to maintain than alternative models:

Understanding Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a cloud computing service where virtual desktop environments are delivered to end-users over the internet. This service allows users to access their desktop operating system, applications, and data from any device with an internet connection, providing a flexible and scalable solution for businesses. 

The basic framework of DaaS includes:

  • Cloud storage
  • Virtualisation infrastructure
  • Network connectivity
  • Endpoint devices.

The virtualization infrastructure usually involves servers running special software called hypervisors (sometime also referred to as virtual machines) that host the virtual desktops. 

The cloud storage is typically made up of SANs (Storage Area Network) which contain lots of hard drives setup in such as way that they are very secure and resilient. It is here all the user data and applications are stored securely and can be accessed on-demand. 

Network connectivity is crucial for delivering virtual desktop access to users securely (encrypted) and with minimal delay (low latency). Part of the network connectivity on Cloud2Me’s side includes enterprise grade firewalls to monitor the incoming and outgoing internet traffic and prevent any malicious activity from occurring. In order to connect to the virtual machines, the customer will need to use an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to provide them with an internet connection. This may include a dedicated leased line (sometime also called ‘Full Fibre’ or Fibre-To-The-Premises, FTTP), cable internet, FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet) or ADSL. Remote offices may rely on Mobile broadband (4G/5G) or even satellite broadband (Starlink or OneWeb). 

Finally, the virtual desktop infrastructure is accessed by an ‘endpoint device’, such as a desktop PC, Apple Mac, tablets, mobile phone or thin clients.All of these frameworks combined make up Desktop as a Service (DaaS).

The difference between DaaS and a traditional desktop setup for accountants

The main differences between Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and a traditional desktop setup for accountants revolve around accessibility, management, scalability, and security:

Accessibility and flexibility: DaaS offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing accountants to access virtual desktops from any device with an internet connection, enabling remote work and collaboration. This contrasts with traditional desktop setups, where accounting software and data are confined to specific physical machines, limiting remote access and flexibility. DaaS supports a wide range of devices, allowing accountants to work from home, client sites, or different office locations seamlessly.

Management and maintenance: In a traditional desktop setup, the responsibility for hardware and software maintenance, updates, and troubleshooting falls on either an outsourced local IT firm, the  in-house IT team or the partner who is most tech savvy! This includes managing hardware failures, software updates, and security patches. DaaS, on the other hand, shifts this burden to the service provider (Cloud2Me), who manages the infrastructure, performs regular updates, and ensures high availability and security. This allows accounting firms to focus more on their core activities rather than IT management.

Scalability and cost efficiency: DaaS offers scalable solutions where resources can be adjusted based on the firm’s needs. This is particularly advantageous for accounting firms that may experience seasonal fluctuations in workload. Traditional desktop setups require significant upfront investment in hardware and software, and scaling up often means additional capital expenditure and IT overhead. DaaS operates on a subscription-based model, converting capital expenses to operational expenses and allowing for more predictable budgeting.

Security and compliance: Security in DaaS environments is managed by the service provider (Cloud2Me), who implements robust security measures, including data encryption, regular backups, and compliance with industry standards. This can provide a higher level of security compared to traditional setups, where ensuring comprehensive security measures might be challenging for smaller accounting firms with limited IT resources. Additionally, DaaS providers often have disaster recovery solutions in place, ensuring business continuity.

Overall, DaaS provides a more flexible, manageable, scalable, and secure solution compared to traditional desktop setups, making it an attractive option for accounting firms looking to modernise their IT infrastructure.

The cost differences (both in time and money) of DaaS versus a conventional desktop solution

The cost benefits of using Desktop as a Service (DaaS) over a traditional desktop setup for accountants include:

  • Reduced capital expenditure: Traditional desktop setups require significant upfront investment in hardware, including desktops, servers, and networking equipment. DaaS, on the other hand, operates on a subscription-based model, converting these capital expenditures into operational expenses. This pay-as-you-go model reduces the need for large initial investments and allows firms to allocate resources more efficiently.
  • Lower maintenance and IT support costs: In a traditional setup, ongoing maintenance, software updates, and troubleshooting require dedicated IT staff or external IT support, which can be costly. With DaaS, the service provider handles all infrastructure maintenance, software updates, and security patches, reducing the need for in-house IT support and lowering overall IT maintenance costs.
  • Scalability and flexibility: DaaS provides the ability to scale resources up or down based on demand. This is particularly beneficial for accounting firms that experience seasonal variations in workload. Instead of purchasing additional hardware to meet peak demands, firms can temporarily increase their DaaS subscription, paying only for what they use. This flexibility leads to more efficient resource utilisation and cost savings. Some providers operate their own DaaS meaning they can automatically increase resources at no additional cost during peak demand periods.
  • Reduced downtime and increased productivity: DaaS providers typically offer robust infrastructure with high availability and disaster recovery solutions. This minimises downtime and ensures that accountants can access their virtual desktops reliably, leading to increased productivity. In contrast, traditional setups might suffer from hardware failures or other issues that can cause significant downtime and lost productivity. An on-premise server is vulnerable to theft, fire and flood risks, whereas DaaS providers such as Cloud2Me, store their hardware in multiple, Tier-3 data centres, which have enhanced security, fire protection and flood mitigation built into them.
  • Simplified licensing and software management: Managing software licences in a traditional desktop environment can be complex and costly, with the need to purchase, renew, and track licences for multiple devices. DaaS simplifies this process by including software licences as part of the subscription. This not only reduces the administrative burden but can also result in cost savings through bulk licensing agreements negotiated by the DaaS provider.
  • Energy and space savings: Traditional desktop setups require physical space for hardware and consume significant amounts of energy. By moving to a cloud-based DaaS model, firms can reduce their physical footprint and lower energy consumption, leading to cost savings on office space and utility bills. This is especially true for DaaS providers like Cloud2Me that use energy efficient data centres to store all their hardware.

In summary, DaaS offers significant cost benefits over traditional desktop setups for accountants by reducing capital expenditure, lowering maintenance and IT support costs, providing scalability, minimising downtime, simplifying software management, and reducing energy and space requirements. These benefits make DaaS a cost-effective solution for modern accounting firms.

What kind of costs are involved with a DaaS offering?

A Desktop as a Service (DaaS) subscription typically involves several types of costs, which can vary based on the provider and the specific needs of the business. Here are the primary costs involved:

Subscription / user licensing fees: The core cost of a DaaS offering is the monthly or annual subscription fee. This fee usually covers access to the virtual desktop infrastructure, including the hardware resources (CPU, memory, storage) and the virtualization software needed to run the desktops. While some providers will charge on a ‘resources used’ basis (which can be risky as costs often start low but can balloon over time), most will charge on a per user (as Cloud2Me does) or per virtual desktop basis. Some providers charge their licensing fee based on the type of user (e.g., standard user, power user) and the resources allocated to their virtual desktops, while others (such as Cloud2Me) have a fixed price for all user types and simply automatically reallocate resources from low-usage users to high-usage ones.

Software licensing: While some software licences may be included in the subscription fee, additional costs may arise for specific software applications required by the business. For instance, licences for productivity suites (like Microsoft Office), accounting software, or specialised applications may incur additional charges.

Storage costs: Depending on the amount of data storage required, there may be additional charges for storage beyond a certain quota. This can include costs for storing user profiles, documents, and application data. Some DaaS providers such as Cloud2Me allocate a set amount of storage space per user but aggregate it across all users within a clients business. This way, users who may require lots of storage space (i.e. Senior Partners) can ‘borrow’ from less resource hungry users (i.e. Junior Associates).

Data transfer fees: Some DaaS providers may charge for data transfer, especially if there is significant data being moved between the virtual desktops and other cloud computing offerings or on-premises systems. Others, such as Cloud2Me, do not.

Support and management fees: While basic support is often included, some premium support services, such as 24/7 support or dedicated account management, may come at an additional cost. Cloud2Me offers premium support services (such as telephone support from UK based engineers) as standard. Some providers also offer managed services for an extra fee, where they take on more comprehensive management of the desktop environment.

Security features: Enhanced security features, such as advanced threat protection, data encryption, and compliance monitoring, may not be included in the base subscription fee and could incur additional charges. Cloud2Me offers enterprise grade firewall and antivirus protection as standard. Two-Factor-Authentication (2FA) and enhanced email scanning for spam and maleware are available as optional extras.

Customization and integration: If the business requires custom configurations or integrations with other systems and applications, there might be one-time setup fees or ongoing costs associated with maintaining these customisations.

Bandwidth costs: In some cases, particularly with heavy usage or in environments with limited bandwidth, there might be costs associated with increased bandwidth consumption required for the virtual desktops to function efficiently. For most small to medium sized accountancy practices, anything faster than a FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband connection is usually sufficient.

By understanding these cost components, businesses can better evaluate the total cost of ownership for a DaaS solution and ensure it aligns with their budget and requirements.

What do you need to be looking for from a good DaaS provider?

There are certain criteria you need to consider when evaluating whether a particular DaaS provider is the right choice for your organisation:

Latency and network performance: Having a decent internet connection (FTTC or better) is a must for DaaS to work well, but it’s also important to understand what your Round-Trip Time (RTT) is likely to be – the time it takes for a data packet to travel from the user’s device to the virtual desktop infrastructure and back. Lower RTT indicates better performance. If your DaaS provider have their servers in a different country it’s users, this could result in significantly reduced performance. This is especially important to know as some DaaS providers rely on hyperscale cloud providers (like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud etc) which run servers globally. Unless they have specifically requested a certain geographical region, your virtual desktops may end up being hosted on a different continent!

Resource allocation and utilisation: This is the percentage of CPU and memory resources being used by virtual desktops in order to run certain apps efficiently. Effective resource allocation ensures that desktops perform efficiently without overloading the servers. As mentioned above, some DaaS providers rely on hyperscale cloud providers and so have to purchase and resell these resources depending on their end clients’ usage. Certain accounting applications can be extremely resource intensive, especially during busy seasonal periods such as January or April in the UK. Other DaaS providers (like Cloud2Me) maintain their own hardware in dedicated data centres, and so are able to cope with resource allocation and utilisation more effectively.

User experience: Linked directly to resource allocation and utilisation, user experiences on things like ‘login time’ and ‘session stability’ can vary considerably between different DaaS providers.  It is important to ask about how systems are monitored and by whom. As well as this, DaaS providers should be transparent in when they last had a system outage, performance issues or a malware attack. A quick google search will also usually validate what kind of reputation a DaaS provider has when it comes to user experience.

Persistent desktops: A persistent desktop is a type of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) where each user is assigned a dedicated virtual desktop that retains all their custom settings, applications, and data between sessions. This means that when a user logs off and then logs back in, they will return to the same desktop environment with all their changes intact, similar to a traditional physical desktop. Some of the key features of persistent desktops include personalisation (users can personalise their desktop environments with specific settings, virtual apps, and files), state retention (any changes made by the user, such as installed applications, desktop layout, and document edits, are saved and will be available the next time the user logs in) and dedicated resources (see above). Persistent desktops offer a balance between the flexibility of virtual desktops and the familiarity of traditional desktops, making them an excellent choice for users who require a stable, personalised computing environment. By maintaining state and personalisation across sessions, persistent desktops provide a seamless and efficient user experience, which is critical for productivity and user satisfaction.

Security, compliance and Service Level Agreements (SLAs): A good DaaS provider should be able to detail what systems and protocols they have in place to encrypt data and protect against unauthorised access. They should also be able to demonstrate adherence to industry standards and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO/IEC 27001, to ensure data security and privacy. Finally, what SLAs do they have in place? This should include information on their uptime and availability, as well as their guaranteed percentage of time their DaaS service will be operational. High uptime and availability are crucial for business continuity. SLAs should also detail what their response and resolution times are (the time it takes for support teams to respond to and resolve issues). Faster response times improve overall service quality.

Integration capabilities and scalability of DaaS

Integrating Desktop as a Service (DaaS) with existing IT infrastructure (or migrating to DaaS)  involves several critical steps to ensure seamless functionality and security are maintained – they include:

1. Assessment and Planning

2. Selection of DaaS Provider

3. Network and Connectivity Setup

4. Integration with Existing Systems

5. Security and Compliance

6. User Training and Support

7. Testing and Validation

8. Full Deployment and Optimization

We go into more detail on these steps within this blog post:

DaaS also offers companies the opportunity to scale rapidly and not have to worry about upgrading their in-house IT infrastructure. Because a DaaS provider already has these built out, at scale, accountancy practices are able to add users at relatively low cost and short notice. This can be particularly helpful if a business is growing through acquisitions!

Potential challenges when adopting DaaS

Adopting Desktop as a Service (DaaS) can offer numerous benefits, but businesses may encounter several hurdles during the transition. Here are common challenges and considerations, along with solutions or tips to mitigate these issues:

1. Initial Costs and ROI Concerns

Hurdle: While DaaS converts capital expenses to operational expenses, the initial costs of migrating to DaaS and ongoing subscription fees can be a concern.

Solution: Perform a detailed cost-benefit analysis to understand the long-term savings and ROI. Highlight the reduced costs in IT maintenance, hardware upgrades, and improved productivity. Start with a pilot project to validate the financial benefits before full-scale deployment.

2. Security and Compliance

Hurdle: Ensuring data security and compliance with industry regulations can be challenging in a cloud environment.

Solution: Choose a DaaS provider with robust security measures, such as data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular security audits. Ensure the provider complies with relevant industry standards (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA). Implement additional security policies and conduct regular compliance checks.

3. Network Performance and Latency

Hurdle: DaaS performance can be affected by network latency and bandwidth limitations, impacting user experience.

Solution: Invest in high-speed internet connections and optimise network configurations. Utilise network optimization tools and work with the DaaS provider to ensure data centres are geographically close to user locations. Implement Quality of Service (QoS) policies to prioritise DaaS traffic.

4. Integration with Legacy Systems

Hurdle: Integrating DaaS with existing legacy systems and applications can be complex.

Solution: Conduct a thorough assessment of current systems and identify compatibility issues. Use virtualization and application packaging tools to ensure legacy applications run smoothly in the virtual environment (turning them into virtual apps). Most importantly, work closely with a DaaS provider that has experience of running, maintaining and integrating accountancy applications.

5. User Acceptance and Training

Hurdle: Resistance to change and lack of familiarity with the new system can hinder adoption.

Solution: Develop a comprehensive change management plan that includes communication, training, and support. Provide training sessions and resources to help users understand the benefits and functionalities of DaaS. Encourage feedback and address concerns promptly to foster acceptance. Again, a good DaaS provider should be able to provide advice and assistance in this area.

6. Performance and Resource Allocation

Hurdle: Ensuring adequate performance for resource-intensive applications can be challenging.

Solution: Identify the specific performance needs of different user groups and allocate resources accordingly OR use a DaaS provider (like Cloud2Me) that does this on your behalf.  Good DaaS providers should be using performance monitoring tools to track and adjust resource usage dynamically. 

7. Vendor Lock-In

Hurdle: Dependence on a single DaaS provider can lead to vendor lock-in, limiting flexibility and negotiating power.

Solution: Choose a DaaS provider that supports open standards and interoperability – especially when it comes to application support. On the software side, develop a multi-vendor strategy where possible, and ensure that data and applications can be migrated between providers if needed.

8. Downtime and Reliability

Hurdle: Any downtime in the DaaS service can significantly impact business operations.

Solution: Ensure the DaaS provider offers strong SLAs with high uptime guarantees and quick resolution times. Implement redundancy and backup solutions to minimise the impact of potential outages. Regularly test disaster recovery plans and ensure all data is backed up securely.

By addressing these common hurdles with proactive planning and strategic solutions, businesses can smoothly transition to DaaS and maximise the benefits of this flexible and scalable desktop solution.

Conclusion

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) holds significant transformative potential for accountancy practices aiming to modernise their operations. By adopting DaaS, accountants can leverage a flexible, scalable, and secure virtual desktop environment that aligns with the evolving demands of their profession.

Here’s a recap of the key benefits and how DaaS could fit into your strategic IT planning:

Enhanced Flexibility and Mobility: DaaS enables accountants to access virtual desktop environments from anywhere, at any time, using any device. 

Cost Efficiency: By converting capital expenditures into operational expenses, DaaS reduces the need for significant upfront investments in hardware and infrastructure. The subscription-based model allows for predictable budgeting and aligns IT costs with actual usage.

Scalability: DaaS provides the ability to scale resources up or down based on seasonal demands and business growth. This is particularly beneficial for accounting firms that experience peak periods during tax season or need to support temporary project-based teams.

Improved Security and Compliance: DaaS providers offer robust security measures, including data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular security updates. This ensures that sensitive financial data is protected, and regulatory compliance is maintained.

Simplified IT Management: The DaaS provider manages infrastructure maintenance, software updates, and security patches, reducing the IT management burden on in-house teams. This allows accounting firms to focus on their core business activities rather than IT maintenance.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: With built-in redundancy and backup solutions, DaaS enhances business continuity and minimises downtime. In the event of hardware failures or other disruptions, virtual desktops can be quickly restored, ensuring continuous operations.

Check out our Hosted Desktop page for more information on how we can help your accountancy practice grow, or contact us here to ask for a quote or demo.

Why Cloud2Me?

Completely UK based Cloud and tech support

We carefully manage every stage of the setup and migration

Partnerships with the very best, including Citrix, Microsoft, Dell and more

Hundreds of longstanding, happy clients

IT tech support with genuine compassion and care

3 years in, see how Gilbert Meher Recruitment has benefited from Hosted Desktop.

Scope of works:

Exceptional platform uptime

Superb technical support

Zero security concerns

Facilitated business growth

Share This