Stop searching! See all the different Workspace solutions for Microsoft Azure in this Digital Workspace and DaaS Cheat Sheet – version 2.0 – 22 questions answered here

At the beginning of November, I’ve presented most of the comparison information at the E2EVC Virtualization event in Athens, Greece. It took a lot of time to gather all the information, with always the thought in mind to share it first with the attendees during my presentation and after with the Community. Are you an IT Administrator, Architect, IT Manager or CIO and currently searching for a new Digital Workspace / DaaS strategy? You might want to read this article – this might answer some of your questions!

“The year of the Digital Workspace and DaaS”

I already mentioned in one of my previous articles – in my opinion, this and the next upcoming year(s) will all be around the Digital Workspace and DaaS, and not the year of VDI where some people waited, and still waiting for… There is a lot of movement going on in the EUC space, and I hope to give you better insights to get a good understanding of all the products that are available on Azure, and it’s major differences. VDI is definitely not dead, but it’s not the primary focus anymore. See the broader picture – the complete Workspace experience becomes much more important for your end-users – and VDI is just a piece of the puzzle.

In fact, several organizations and well-known Market Guidances predict that the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Market is Growing a percentage of +50% by end of 2023. This is the reason why I think it will be “The year of the Digital Workspace and DaaS”!

Keep in mind – because it’s based on Cloud, innovation is stronger than ever. Most of the vendors are releasing new features first in the Cloud. So the answers presented right now could technically be old in just a couple of days!

How it all started

Almost 6 months ago, I’ve had started thinking about the idea to present about all the different workspace solutions in Azure. There are a lot of them, but which solution fits best for my use-case, or business needs? Staying at the same product in a digital world – or better say Public Cloud scenario can be an easy and simple decision if you stay at your current vendor solution, although therefore maybe not the most cost-effective as well as a simplified solution. There might be a chance that another product can do just the same for your business needs. Where do you want to gain from an on-premises to a Cloud perspective, is it only in costs – then you’ll probably fail. Some important question could be…

(re)Think about your use-case, is it still the same as years ago, or are your needs asking for a different approach? Are some – or perhaps all my apps already running as Software-As-a-Service (SaaS) instead of Published Apps? Where can I use a Unified – Workspace – Portal to create the single pane of glass experience for my end-users to my SaaS apps, published apps, and Desktops? Ask yourself the question where you want to be in the next 5 years with your Desktop environment, what solution will fill your needs – and is it only costs-driven or is the simplified way of setup, management and maintaining part way more important?

During the process of information gathering, I found huge differences between them that are worth sharing in your decision making moments, whether it’s based on costs, due to other specifics technical needs or perhaps maybe because of regulation. Making a good move right now can save you big time in the next 5 -10 years!

This is just the beginning

Small ideas end in big things, that is what I’ve learned in the past years as a community contributor. I’ve started this document with only 5 questions, and during the process, more questions came up. This document will be a reoccurring item, with more and more answers included. 

“Big things often have small beginnings”

When you are interested in technical insights about the products mentioned in this article – see here a list of all the workspace related walkthrough articles I wrote in the past.

The vendors

Obviously, Citrix is the current (on-premises) market leader right now, with on the second place VMware. Followed by others, such as Workspot, Nutanix – Frame, and Parallels. The upcoming new player is definitely Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), which Microsoft announced as Control Plane Platform-As-a-Service (RDmi evolved – the future of the Remote Desktop platform) within Azure at last Ignite, 2018.

Citrix already announced a Hosted Shared Desktop solution based on Azure Virtual Desktop, so Citrix will become the first official Microsoft Direct Cloud Service Provider (CSP), The first joint cloud service to be delivered is a simple, integrated “Desktop-as-a-Service” (DaaS) solution that is integrated with Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop. The big advantage for Citrix is the privilege to use the AVD backplane platform as well as the new Windows 10 Enterprise – Multi-User Operating System – from your own Azure subscription as well as one subscription provided by this partnership! Who’s following next? 

“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress”

Furthermore, important to mention – VMware and Citrix were “and still are” always strong competitors, although during VMworld Europe – VMware released the support of Provisioning Services on their vCloud platform as Citrix Ready partner. Is this a new strategy, both vendors helping business with their journey to the cloud? See below the answer from both CTO’s of Citrix as well as VMware. And yes, that red like is from me, because this is the way how we need to deal with customers in the future!

This one is very interesting as well – We probably all have seen that Nutanix acquired Frame a couple of months ago. A very strategic move from Nutanix, as they always were relying on other vendors, such as Citrix and VMware to deliver Virtual Desktops on Nutanix’s own AHV hyper-converged platform. I expect that Frame will integrate with AHV soon, and will become a 1-1 solution for AHV with a Hybrid approach, such as with Azure and Amazon. Will this be the end of the strong partnership with Citrix – or will Citrix approach this the same as the tweet above from, let’s wait and see.

Update – Nutanix announced support for Nutanix Xi at their Nutanix .NEXT event back in November. Nutanix Xi is their own Cloud platform which is completely running on AHV hyper-converged infrastructures. The shift to make this available as well for “on-premises” AHV hyper-converged infrastructures will have an impact on the market and their joint Citrix consumers, this one will have my attraction in 2019.

Anyway, I really look forward to how the market share looks like next year with all the movement going on. And it’s great to be active in this space right now, that’s for sure!

Why Microsoft 365 becomes more important

Most businesses are currently leveraging Office 365 services, starting with Exchange Online, followed by services like SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Skype and probably ending with Microsoft Teams. The next transformation from normal perpetual to a subscription-based licensing model will be Microsoft 365 – the same licensing model as for Office 365, however now more focused on the infrastructure management side. Microsoft 365 includes services such as Windows 10 OS desktop licensing, Intune for (physical) Endpoint Management and Azure AD Premium with all the Conditional Access capabilities for security as well as Azure Multi-Factor Authentication options.

“DOS is the fundament for Windows, and Windows will be the fundament of Microsoft Azure

The following quote reminds me of how fast we are going (and some of you already did) to leverage Azure Cloud Platform Services. Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure is free to use for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, and F1 license models, combining this with Windows 10 Enterprise – Multi-user can be a good strategy path to leverage Azure Cloud services in a cost-effective way for your business, taking advantage of the services that are already included and paid in the Microsoft 365 monthly license.

A closer look at the field

We at VDILIKEAPRO released the State of the Union EUC 2018 survey at the beginning of this year, which is filled in by almost 800 independent people around de globe. Some of the results are a good starting point for unbiased insights of the market right now. We’ll – of course – do another survey based on this question next year. But, if you’re curious about the results of this year’s 2018 state of the union survey, you can see the outcome below.

Which SBC session broker solution is currently deployed on-premises? (not publiccloud!)

Within SBC, it’s clear that Citrix is in the lead. However, there is a notable decline of Citrix usage since last year. In 2017, more than 70% of respondents used Citrix — the 2018 survey reflects a drop down to 64%. VMware horizon has drastically increased from 8.3% in 2017 to 16.79% in 2018. Microsoft-only RDSH environments are being used in 11.2% of the scenarios which is a small increase compared to 2017. The small percentage of Workspot usage mildly increased to 3.7%. Dell vWorkspace and Parallels RAS usage is minimal, close to 0%.

“Will you use, introduce or change to public cloud VDI/SBC (Remote Apps/DaaS)?”

34% of the participants are either already using or plan on changing to public cloud Desktop as a Service / Remote Application as a Service solutions. The majority (47.61%) of the respondents will determine what to do next while 19.90% aren’t interested in public cloud VDI/SBC. In a cloud-first and mobile-first world, many organizations see solutions from Amazon, Citrix, Frame, Microsoft, VMware, or Workspot as great solutions to deliver applications and desktops from the public cloud.

The two charts are parts of the VDILIKEAPRO state of the VDI and SBC union survey, which is free to download over here.

And, here it is, the first Digital Workspace and DaaS Cheatsheet! Version 2.0!

Updated on 11.01.2019 – The moment you’ve been waiting for. I’ve created 22 questions important questions in one view – cheat sheet. All the answers are verified by the vendors. Please use it during your discovery and Digital Workspace transformation to the Azure Public Cloud, at decision-making moments, or just to expand your own knowledge on this space! Obviously, not all the differences are listed in this comparison, use it in your own advantage and hopefully it helps you to put you in the right direction. If you are (more) interested in technical insights about the products? See here a list of all the workspace related walkthrough articles I wrote in the past.

NoteThe things marked as red are not released right now, but way too important to keep away from the comparison. And as said at the beginning of this article, the information is an ongoing story of improvements, so the information could be old in the next days…

*The order from left to right has nothing to do with either market share, amount of features or personal preference.

Download the Workspace and DaaS Cheat sheet here as PDF

I hope this helps to have a better understanding of the different options.

Hope to see you back soon – and feel free to leave a comment if you’ve any questions.


Christiaan Brinkhoff