AWS Public Sector Blog

Top five desktop-as-a-service trends in higher education

woman at a laptop

Educational institutions are turning to cloud-based solutions to enable anywhere, anytime access from any device. By using secure desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solutions to provide consistent applications on every virtualized desktop, institutions can reduce variable costs, remove capital expenditures, and achieve mission objectives.

In a recent webinar, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Partner Network (APN) partners SynchroNet and DLT discussed the changing landscape around cloud-based end user computing (EUC) in education, as well as Amazon WorkSpaces and Amazon AppStream 2.0.

Five DaaS trends seen in education are:

1)   Overcoming limitations of VDI

Many educational institutions initially turned to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to improve capacity and management. However, traditional VDI poses latency, agility, and elasticity challenges, as it can take weeks or months to scale physical resources. As VDI investments reach the end of life, institutions are looking for ways to simplify their desktop delivery strategy. By providing cloud desktops, institutions do not need to purchase, provision, deploy, or operate hardware.

2)   Thinking globally

As universities juggle maintaining distance learning programs, research offices, and offshore development teams, it can be difficult to provide a seamless experience with traditional, on-premises VDI – and the complexities multiply with each country and time zone. Research institutions can help researchers utilize resources in their environment and securely access data and toolsets, and allow the ability to terminate those resources when no longer needed. DaaS applications are available using an internet connection from any location – regardless of hardware or device.

3)   Adjusting for fluctuating student enrollment and program patterns

Each academic period, it can be difficult to accurately estimate the numbers of students who will enroll in a course or program. With managed desktops, institutions only pay for the desktops they need, removing the need for guesswork in advance or catch up after the fact. Fully managed EUC services provide support for remote users, temporary projects, remote, and distance learning. Users can work from anywhere in the world with a highly responsive experience. Because colleges now more frequently review and test new programs, cloud-based EUC is a cost-effective way to test, scale, and spin down programs based on enrollment trends – all without long-term lock-in.

4)   Transforming physical space on campus

Institutions are searching for ways to better use physical space on campus. As students turn to their own devices, traditional computer labs are seeing low utilization during much of the academic year. In turn, institutions are experimenting with new uses such a collaborative space, maker space, or general flexible space. Universities are searching for ways to deliver computer lab experiences directly to students in a cost-effective manner.

5)   Meeting evolving student and faculty needs

Research now shows that 95% of students come to campus with a laptop and a smartphone, and a majority cite their device as at least moderately important to their academic success. Institutions can enable “bring your own device” (BYOD) and allow students to access cloud desktops from any supported device and browser. This enables institutions to deliver a secure, responsive desktop experience that meets the needs of end users and helps turn a BYOD initiative into a reality.


For DaaS solutions for education, check out Amazon WorkSpaces, a fully managed service that provides a secure, managed, cloud-based virtual desktop experience to end-users, and Amazon AppStream 2.0, a fully managed application streaming service that allows you to centrally manage your desktop applications and securely deliver them to any computer.

Check out more on end user computing on AWS, cloud computing for education, as well as some customer success stories for Amazon WorkSpaces and Amazon AppStream 2.0.