Comparing VDI to DaaS for Your AEC Company

18 April 2022Architecture and Engineering, Digital Transformation, IT ServicesDaaS, innovation, VDI



In the Applied Software Tech Talk webinar “Is VDI the Right Solution for Your Company?” Jason Schmidt and Doug Dahlberg talked about virtual desktop infrastructure as an easier and more cost-effective way for companies to manage their computers. With VDI, the desktop computer environment is separated from the physical computer by using virtual machines that are hosted on a centralized server on-premises or in the cloud. Instead of working on individual PCs or laptops, employees can connect to a virtual PC using another device. Management of the PC is done from one location, and people aren’t chained to their desk.

Fluffy white cloud hovering above person's hand with connected points of light and blue triangles streaming toward it as in DaaS


VDI enables a mobile workforce. It simplifies employee workstation and application setup, reducing the time and expense required. The host computer has all the latest updates and does the heavy work, so employees can use less expensive, lower-end workstations.

The AEC industry is large, but it’s still a niche. Architecture, engineering and construction computing needs are different than other industries. While it may be a minor challenge for other types of business to virtualize, CAD and architectural apps are more difficult. Someone on your staff needs to be familiar with VDI and make the deployment successful.

VDI can be on-premises or in the cloud, which is called Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Functioning as a huge data center, the cloud makes many options possible if you have internet access. Both VDI and DaaS offer:

  • Better productivity.
  • Uniform versions and matching user experiences.
  • Flexibility, so anything works from any location at any time.
  • Security, with many machines controlled/protected rapidly.
  • Efficient upgrades, with more resources in the background.

To decide whether VDI or DaaS would be better for your company, consider the features.

flat map of the world overlain by connected points of light and two icons of white outlined clouds

VDI Features

With VDI, you are essentially setting up your own cloud on-premises.

Your IT department deploys and configures servers, builds operating system images and implements a strategy to deploy virtual desktops. Most VDI deployments require time to build, test and measure performance.

VDI requires ongoing licensing payments to the company you choose. For on-premise VDI, that might be:

  • Citrix
  • Hyper-V
  • VMWare

You will also need to license the AEC applications your employees use.

There will be an initial capital investment (cap-ex) for hardware. This will include network components like servers and storage, as well as the workstations. These could include laptops, tablets, smartphones, and thin clients – computers without hard drives and operating systems. VDI hardware needs to be located in its own secure, cooled environment.

A skilled administrator is needed for supporting VDI. Their salary is part of the operating expense (op-ex) of the VDI. The administrator needs to be knowledgeable about desktop computer tech, storage and virtualization – one host running multiple “guest” operating systems.  

DaaS Features

DaaS, or Cloud VDI, offers medium-level cost, low complexity, and medium to high performance and scalability. Whereas it can take time to get a VDI environment fully functional, DaaS is immediately available upon login with the provider. It is either subscription based or billed on a pay-per-use basis, depending on the provider. Examples are:

  • Workspot
  • Amazon WorkSpaces
  • Azure Windows
  • IBMCloud

With DaaS, the provider furnishes the IT staff. Licensing is included with the usage fee. Management is included, except to deploy the service on-premises or enable special capabilities for your team. Op-ex is understandably higher than with VDI, but capital investment in equipment is much lower. The op-ex is predictable.    

With DaaS, your company doesn’t have to own the hardware to make work in the cloud possible. As long as you have the appropriate bandwidth for internet access, the cloud is reliable. Required connection speeds can vary from 200k for knowledge workers to 2Mbps for each person who works on intensive graphics. Because this solution is quick, scalable and reliable, cloud-based workstations are an attractive option.

It’s recommended that you test alternative solutions with real users and administrators so you gain insight into advantages and disadvantages before you negotiate and integrate.

To learn more, reach out today to the experts of the Applied Software Digital Transformation Team.



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