One of the most common questions IT teams face when deploying virtually any type of resourcetoday is whether to host it on-premises or in the cloud. Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks. Deciding which one works best requires evaluating your specific needs.
To provide some guidance for making this decision, here’s a comparison of the pros and cons ofon-premises desktops versus Desktop-as-a-Service, or DaaS. Desktops are a good example of a widely used type of IT resource that can be deployed both on-premises or in the cloud.
THE ADVANTAGES OF DESKTOP-AS-A-SERVICE
Compared to on-premises desktops, cloud desktops that are deployed via a DaaS platform offerseveral notable advantages.
Perhaps the greatest is deployment flexibility and scalability. With cloud desktops, you can launch a new desktop in minutes. There is no need to go through the long process of acquiring hardware, installing software on it, and delivering the machine to an employee before he or she can start working.
Likewise, if you no longer need one of your cloud desktops, a DaaS platform like DesktopReadylets you shut it down just as quickly as you set it up. Not only does this save money by allowing you to stop paying for desktops you no longer need, but it also mitigates the security risks and management burden that you’d face if you had to keep track of physical desktops that are not inactive use.
Another key advantage of DaaS is that it allows your users to access their desktops — and the applications and data they host — from anywhere and at any time. They don’t need to be physically present in the office to do their work.
Granted, on-premises desktops can sometimes be accessed remotely as well. However, they typically require users to set up and log into a VPN, whereas DaaS platforms like DesktopReadycan be accessed quickly and easily through any modern Web browser. By taking the VPN out ofthe equation, DaaS provides a simpler, pain-free experience for employees.
DaaS allows you to streamline budgeting, too. Because you pay a fixed, predictable fee for eachcloud desktop you use, you can easily anticipate your costs ahead of time, and avoid unexpected major expenses related to your desktops. Consistent budgeting is more difficult withphysical workstations, which may require a major hardware replacement or upgrade with little notice.
From a security perspective as well, DaaS offers several advantages. It eliminates the risk that employees will lose their computers and expose sensitive data stored on them. DaaS also makes it easy to consolidate and centralize sensitive data in a secure, cloud-based environment, mitigating the risk that employees will download private data to their personal devices or store it in insecure ways on local devices.
DISADVANTAGES OF DAAS
The DaaS advantages described above make cloud desktops a great solution for many businesses today. However, DaaS is not ideal for every type of use case. There are situations where continuing to use on-premises workstations is a better option.
One important disadvantage of DaaS is that it requires a high-speed Internet connection. That’s not a major barrier for most modern businesses, which have reliable access to high-performing Internet connections. But if you operate an unusual type of business, such as one where employees are routinely located in remote areas without high-speed Internet, DaaS may not work well for you.
A second disadvantage of DaaS is that it requires a learning process. Your employees will have to get used to accessing their desktops through the cloud, and they may have to learn some basic new tools in order to log in. Of course, there is a learning curve when adopting any type oftechnology. Unless your organization faces especially steep challenges when it comes to adapting to new processes, the effort required to migrate to DaaS will pay off.
Determining how to provision cloud desktops may be another disadvantage of DaaS, dependingon which DaaS platform you use. You may not know how many vCPUs, memory and so on youremployees require, which can make it challenging to select the types of cloud desktops you need. On the other hand, some DaaS platforms, like DesktopReady, provide preconfigured selections tailored to different types of use cases, which avoids the guesswork in picking the right configuration.
A final key disadvantage of DaaS in some cases is software licensing. If you already own licenses for running Windows and other software on your on-premises desktops and you can’t use those same licenses for your cloud desktops, you’ll end up having wasted a lot of money onlicenses you can no longer use. Here again, however, not all DaaS platforms are subject to this limitation; some, including DesktopReady, allow you to apply licenses you already own to your cloud desktops if you wish. (You can also obtain new licenses as part of the cloud desktop package if you prefer.)
Compared to on-premises workstations, DaaS offers a range of significant benefits, including deployment flexibility, predictable budgeting, simplified access, and security protections. But DaaS also poses some challenges, such as the requirement of having a reliable Internet connection and determining how to configure your cloud desktops. These challenges can be addressed easily enough through most modern DaaS, but they’re still important to consider before selecting a DaaS offering.
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- License investment: If you’ve spent thousands of dollars purchasing Microsoft Office licenses for your local PCs, you may not want to abandon that investment by switching to G Suite or Microsoft 365 instead, where you will need to pay new subscription fees.
- Cost: Putting aside the issue of prior investment in licensing, Web-based office software usually requires subscription fees that, in the long run, may exceed the total cost of ownership of on-premises alternatives.
- Learning curve: Your employees are probably experts in using on-premises applications like Microsoft Word. Moving them to Web-based alternatives will require teaching them new applications and new paradigms for storing and accessing data. You may not have time to teach all of your workers these new skills without disrupting business operations. Your IT team, too, may not be as well-equipped to support a new type of office platform.
- Security: When you use Web-based office platforms, it becomes harder to isolate sensitive data or choose to keep it offline. Files that your employees create in a Web-based office environment are typically stored on shared virtual drives that, depending on how you configure security settings, may allow users to access each others’ documents, or even expose data to anyone on the Internet.