Editor’s Note: Originally published in February 2019, this snapshot overview of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) has been updated to reflect the latest information available for data discovery and legal discovery professionals as they consider remote worker enablement solutions. The information may be of special interest to organizations seeking to expand the reach of their workforces to take advantage of new business opportunities. The information may also be particularly useful for organizations preparing to proactively protect and preserve the health and welfare of workforces during travel-constrained times and in areas with group congregation concerns.
A Snapshot of DaaS
When considering eDiscovery services to support the delivery of collection, processing, and review capabilities to remote users, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) providers are becoming important contributors to the overall technology solution as they allow for the deployment of virtualized desktop experiences delivered to end-users on demand from remotely hosted locations. While the providers enabling the delivery of these virtualized environments to those in the eDiscovery ecosystem are typically not called out in the descriptions of the solutions they enable, understanding who those providers are is becoming increasingly important for those sourcing eDiscovery solutions for remote users as the underlying attributes and enhancements the providers deliver form the basis for comparing and contrasting the differences in DaaS-delivered capabilities from eDiscovery providers.
Defining and Describing DaaS [1,2]
In their November 2019 Market Guide for Desktop as a Service, the research firm Gartner defines DaaS as a service offering that deploys a virtualized desktop experience, delivered to a customer on demand from a remotely hosted location. Said in a different way, DaaS can be characterized as a form of end-user computing where the desktop instance is located in the cloud instead of on an on-premise server or on an endpoint computing device. DaaS is similar to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), with the main differentiating factor being that in the case of DaaS, the infrastructure is not housed by the company and not managed by the company’s IT staff. Instead, it is provided off-site, by a third-party cloud service provider in their own data center and the desktop environments are delivered to end-users on demand. Additionally, according to Gartner, DaaS providers typically can be divided into one of two categories. The first category is those providers that include the hosting platform as part of their service and the second category being those providers that exclude the hosting platform as part of their service.
Components of DaaS 
From a high-level perspective, the service components combined by DaaS providers to deliver their offerings include:
- Entitlement (A file that enables a virtual desktop to use some third-party application.)
- Desktop Delivery
- Desktop Imaging
- Facility Hosting
While in VDI environments all of these components are owned by a company’s IT organization, in DaaS environments the company typically only owns the entitlement and desktop imaging component with third-party cloud providers owning the desktop delivery and licensing components, and the DaaS provider owning maintenance, network, server/storage, and facility hosting components. The DaaS provider combines all of the offering-specific components, regardless of individual component ownership, as required to support customer needs.
Challenges of DaaS 
While DaaS provides many benefits over VDI environments, it does come with challenges that may include:
- Challenge of Business Continuity
- Challenge of Calculating Overall Costs
- Challenge of Licensing
- Challenge of Performance
- Challenge of Security
- Challenge of Storage Access
It is important for individuals evaluating DaaS-enabled offerings that extend eDiscovery capability to remote users to fully evaluate not only for the eDiscovery capability the offerings enable but also evaluate for the potential challenges they may introduce.
Benefits of DaaS [5,6]
Key benefits as shared by organizations and commentators on DaaS include:
- Enhanced Security
- Greater Agility and Responsiveness
- Greater Budget Predictability
- Improved Accessibility
- Improved Business Continuity
- Heightened Resilience and Reliability
- Increased Productivity
- Lower Operating Costs
- Reduced Capital Expenditure
- Tighter Alignment with Business Needs
While the total cost of ownership of DaaS offerings can vary from being higher than that of on-premise VDI to being substantially less expensive based on reduced CAPEX and lower operating costs, the benefits of DaaS make it an increasingly attractive option for eDiscovery providers seeking to extend and enhance the capability of their platforms for remote users.
Example DaaS Providers [7,8]
While there are many DaaS providers in the marketplace today, provided below is a short listing of key providers worth considering as potential offering enablers.
- Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com)
- Anunta (anuntatech.com)
- Citrix (citrix.com)
- Cloudalize (cloudalize.com)
- CloudJumper (cloudjumper.com)
- dinCloud (dincloud.com)
- Dizzion (dizzion.com)
- Effortless (effortlessoffice.com)
- Evolve IP (evolveip.net)
- Kivito (deskmate.cloud)
- Microsoft (microsoft.com)
- MTM Technologies (mtm.com)
- Nutanix (nutanix.com)
- OVH (ovh.com)
- Paperspace (paperspace.com)
- Tehama (tehama.io)
- Tilon (tilon.com)
- VirtualBox (virtualbox.org)
- VMware (vmware.com)
- Workspot (workspot.com)
 Gartner, Inc. (2019). Market Guide for Desktop as a Service. [online] Gartner, Inc. Available at: https://www.gartner.com/doc/3880012 [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
 Stratodesk NoTouch Desktop | VDI, Thin Client, DaaS, IoT. (2018). What is Desktop as a Service (DaaS)? [online] Available at: https://www.stratodesk.com/what-is-desktop-as-a-service-daas/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
 Gartner, Market Guide for Desktop as a Service.
 Bonuccelli, G. (2015). What is DaaS? | DaaS Challenges. [online] Parallels Remote Application Server Blog – Application virtualization, mobility and VDI. Available at: https://www.parallels.com/blogs/ras/what-is-daas/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
 Redcentricplc.com. (n.d.). 12 Benefits of Desktop as a Service. [online] Available at: https://www.redcentricplc.com/resources/articles/12-benefits-of-desktop-as-a-service/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
 dinCloud. (2018). DaaS: Giving Businesses the Freedom to Choose. [online] Available at: https://www.dincloud.com/blog/daas-giving-businesses-the-freedom-to-choose [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
 Gartner, Market Guide for Desktop as a Service.
 G2 Crowd. (2020). Best Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Software in 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/virtual-desktop-infrastructure-vdi [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].