While it may not be crystal clear how many employees might wind up permanently working from home, it’s apparent there will be a lot more than there were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, many IT leaders are reevaluating their cloud computing strategies as it becomes more evident that a much larger percentage of end users will not be well served by existing on-premises applications.

Naturally, that means a large number of applications will be migrating into the cloud. Less clear, however, is the degree to which desktops will be migrating into the cloud, as well. A survey published by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and Workspot, a provider of a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) environments hosted on Microsoft Azure, suggests the rate at which desktops will be moving into the cloud is about to dramatically accelerate.

Well over half the respondents (58 percent) said they expect DaaS will become the primary means of desktop consumption. Nearly 80 percent said they also believe DaaS, or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platforms, to be more secure than traditional desktops.

A full 88 percent of respondents also noted they were either interested or very interested in accessing VDI/DaaS images via smartphones and non-Windows devices.

Overall, the survey finds nearly 40 percent of respondents use DaaS today to some degree, with another 25 percent actively engaged in adoption.

Transition to DaaS has been coming

Citrix and VMware have been making a case for DaaS for years. It’s only been with the availability of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) on Azure that the whole concept started to gain mainstream traction. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of organizations embracing DaaS platforms to more securely enable employees to work from home is expected to increase significantly.

Obviously, that transition has major implications for managed service providers (MSPs). Most of their services are wrapped around endpoints located in on-premises IT environments. As those desktops shift toward the cloud, so too does the focal point for where MSPs need to deliver their services. The challenge, of course, is that cloud service providers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) already offer a variety of add-on services, for example, to secure desktops in the cloud.

MSPs are clearly going to need to up their game to stay relevant. Rather than simply focusing on the desktop, MSPs should incorporate support for applications to provide end customers with a complete digital workspace experience. In most cases, those digital workspace experiences will need to be customized for various vertical industry segments. A cloud service provider can go wide but they can’t necessarily go a deep as an MSP can when it comes to understanding workflows within an given organization.

In addition, many customers are still going to want a level of support and personal engagement that cloud service providers are not generally inclined to want to provide.

It will be up to each MSP to decide to determine which cloud service provider they want to rely on to deliver a basic DaaS capabilities. It is important to remember that a cloud service provider is only a means to a larger end.

Photo: Vladimir Zhoga / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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