Recent announcements from Amazon (and others) brought Desktop as a Service (DaaS) into the spotlight again (GigaOm coverage here). Amazon Workspaces’ DaaS announcement brings a major vendor into the remote desktop virtualization space. (All of these buzzwords basically mean that people use virtual desktops — for example, a complete Windows installation — that they can access on a variety of devices in a variety of locations. Since the desktops are virtual, they’re run from a server, eliminating the need for dedicated hardware, but making an Internet connection essential.)

While Gartner’s Gunnar Berger points out that “Many DaaS service providers have been offering near identical services for years,” Amazon’s prominence brings new visibility to the segment. In fact, a related piece suggests that the Amazon DaaS solution can save almost 60% vs managing virtual desktops in-house.

So there are definite advantages to this kind of desktop anywhere approach that go beyond an updated view of the old “network appliance” approach. The key question, however, is what’s in it for developers?

DaaS means the richness of desktop apps may continue. And that the enterprise “control” of desktops, access and custom applications — the bulk of development projects — may continue. For developers, it suggests that enterprise apps — the majority of applications built in the world, still — can continue to draw on the extensive set of capabilities and connections they now enjoy. What’s the alternative? One-size-fits all HTML5 Web apps, or complex multi-platform desktop/mobile apps. Developers will still have to create mobile apps, but for enterprise solutions a DaaS could mean easier deployment and maintenance of line of business (LOB) applications.  (Check out our latest mobile study for the trends we see in mobile HTML5 interest.)

Andi Mann’s argument in response to Gunnar Berger’s piece also raises interesting questions. While it’s worth reading the whole thing, one highlight is this:

It also seems to me that DaaS in any case solves a short-term problem that not that many people have today, and fewer will have tomorrow. Startups in particular are much more interested in BYOD solutions than VDI solutions.

From my perspective, a virtualized desktop solution in an enterprise — less so a startup — holds a lot of promise to work around BYOD challenges. Need the full capability of the enterprise LOB app? Use any PC to log into your virtual desktop. Need a subset because you’re mobile? Use the custom mobile app.

I’m sure DevOps teams see advantages for an enterprise desktop that will run on a wide variety of devices in a DaaS mode. DaaS streamlines provisioning, maintenance. And it streamlines deployment, possibly security, and app compatibility.

What’s your take on DaaS?

image from AWS re:Invent Event Stream