binoculars.jpgIn my job at Leostream, I chat with MSPs often about desktops-as-a-service. These days most have gotten the hint that they need innovative ways to centrally manage desktops in the world of BYOD and mobility.  In situations where traditional VDI has been cast aside for being too costly and complex, cloud desktops are rising to the challenge.

When you’re considering adding DaaS to your MSP portfolio several questions will arise. Where is the DaaS solution hosted — in a private or public cloud? What platforms and devices are supported — Android, iOS, etc.? How do I handle licensing? There’s no shortage of information around the topic of cloud desktops.  For your reading pleasure, we cover all the basic questions and answers in our eBook on cloud desktops as a virtualization solution. As a primer to this post, please feel free to download a complimentary copy using that link.

Moving beyond the basics…what specifically do you need to have success with DaaS? As an MSP, there are some special requirements, most notably the need for management tools to help you track and organize customer activity.

From a practicality stand point, multi-tenancy is hands down the most important feature that you will need from a DaaS tool. Multi-tenancy provides an easy way to separate desktops associated with different customers.  This functionality allows you to administer desktops by easily registering new accounts/users and assigning desktops to those users. It also provides a 360 degree view of who’s using their desktop and for how long. This information can go a long way in simplifying your invoices. With information neatly itemized on the user and account level you can streamline and even automate the monthly billing process.

Multi-tenancy is the name of the game, but it’s not everything. There are several key requirements that are often missed by first-time MSPs considering DaaS. To help you operate your desktops-as-a-service program as smoothly as possible, we’ve listed out three of the common pitfalls. Here’s what NOT to overlook.

1. Addressing the scalability factor

What happens when your cloud desktops are in high demand? It’s a good problem to have, but only if you can address the influx appropriately. Can you easily scale out by adding new accounts and desktops on the fly? A real benefit of desktops-as-a-service is that it’s supposed to be on-demand. To fully live up to this expectation, you’ll want to be in charge of your own DaaS destiny. Some DaaS providers may require that you call up during business hours whenever there’s a surge in desktop demand. For a small percentage of MSPs, this might be okay. But for those who may need extra desktops quickly or over the weekend? Forget it. Creating, imaging, and deleting desktops should be a few short clicks away. Ensure you have what you need to scale.

2. Understanding the value of white-labeling

Whoever coined the expression “it’s not all about looks” clearly wasn’t thinking about DaaS. You see, having the ability to customize the branding of your desktop offering is key to avoiding confusion.  Some options for white-labeling can include changing colors and fonts, adding logos, tailoring log-in screens, languages, etc. Branding consistency is important and so is having the ability to control the appearance of your desktops-as-a-service solution.

3. Creating the desktop people want (and are willing to pay for!)

Now, this may seem obvious, but in order for your DaaS offering to get off the ground you must create desktops that people are actually going to use, right?  Because all end-users have different requirements, you’ll need plenty of options to create the optimal experience. I’m not saying that each and every desktop needs to be as unique as a snowflake, but there should be ways to tailor the end result. For instance, can you choose an operating system? Are any preloaded applications included? In terms of storage, do your end-users require more than 50GB —providing the appropriate memory and processing power is critical. Not only is this important from a usability standpoint, but also from a cost perspective. Make sure you default to the smallest instance size required to provide the performance your users need. There are lots of ways to be smart about controlling costs, especially if you’re hosting desktops in a public cloud. – Download Tip Sheet!

Hopefully I’ve got your wheels turning! If you have more questions, make sure to leave your comments in the section below.