There are a few different ways IT can manage and deploy Windows 10 desktops, but the best approach is up for debate.
To get a clear picture of the future of Windows 10 desktops, three experts squared off last month in a debate-style webinar titled "Three Experts Duke it out for the Best Way to Deploy Windows" from the Citrix User Group Community.
Theresa Miller, founder of 24x7 IT Connection, backed deploying Windows 10 desktops using the desktop as a service (DaaS) model. Aaron Parker, a solutions architect at Insentra, an IT services company in Australia, championed cloud-based management for on-premises Windows 10 desktops. Steve Greenberg, president and principal architect at Thin Client Computing, explained why some IT pros would choose to manage on-premises Windows 10 desktops with traditional management tools.
Deploy Windows 10 desktops in the cloud
IT pros can deliver virtualized Windows 10 desktops using VDI, but this approach still requires them to manage all the back-end infrastructure and take the lead on security.
Many people see the cloud as the future, so it's not surprising that turning to DaaS for Windows 10 desktops is something organizations might consider. There are more DaaS options now than ever, including Microsoft's own offering, Windows Virtual Desktop.
With DaaS, users can access Windows 10 desktops anywhere, from any device. The way they access their desktops in the office is the same as if they were at home. If a disaster occurs, the desktops are housed safely in the provider's data center rather than on premises, so users can still get work done.
"It doesn't matter which device I have, I can always get at my desktop," Miller said in the webinar. "[In case of a] hurricane or fire, if your workstations are in the cloud, there's business continuity. You're empowering the user to do their job no matter what's going on in the world around them."
DaaS also delivers benefits by taking back-end infrastructure management and security off of in-house IT professionals' plates. They can instead focus on more value-driving tasks.
"There may be some learning curve, but it does eliminate some of that stuff that keeps us working nights and weekends," Miller said.
Manage Windows 10 with cloud services
Even if an organization isn't ready to deploy Windows 10 desktops with a DaaS provider, IT can still use cloud-based tools such as Microsoft Intune or Citrix Cloud to manage Windows 10 desktops.
The main benefit of cloud-based management tools is that they allow IT to provision users' devices over the air, Parker said. All IT has to do is send the device from the OEM to the user, who can take it out of the box and enroll it.
"The user can just boot the PC and they've got their email address or their user name on the device; they just have to enter a password," Parker said.
IT pros can also deliver apps more simply by making them available for users to download from an app store such as the Microsoft Store for Business. In addition, once users' desktops are up and running, IT can deliver updates to them through a cloud-based management platform without handling the actual device. And IT can do all of this regardless of where the devices are; they do not need to be connected to the company network.
This approach allows IT to shift its focus from devices to users. Instead of worrying about whether every device a user works with is compliant, which can be a headache and limit device choice, IT can simply make sure the person using the device is truly who he says he is.
Keep everything on premises
The cloud may sound like it's all sunshine and rainbows, but the reality is, moving Windows 10 desktops or management to the cloud is not the simple lift-and-shift operation many vendors claim it is. In reality, public cloud architecture is a deep and customized platform, and each provider's offering is different, Greenberg said.
"It's like being given a blank data center," he said. "You have to configure networks and security, all the connections ... have to be considered and in place before you deploy."
Cloud cost savings are not always what an organization expects, either.
If IT chooses to deploy Windows 10 on premises, the data, apps and users are all in one spot, which leads to optimal performance. In addition, many organizations have line-of-business (LOB) apps with customized code and databases. These apps have been in place so long that sometimes nobody in the organization currently knows exactly how they work. If IT separates older LOB apps from the data, it could cause problems.
Keeping Windows 10 desktops and management on premises also means IT retains control over the deployment.
"You can check your network, you can debug it, you can add CPUs at will, you can buy new servers when and how you need to," Greenberg said.