Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops? - Brian Madden - BrianMadden.com
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Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?

Written on Jun 20 2011 9,055 views, 7 comments


by Brian Madden

We've discussed third-party hosted cloud-based desktops-as-a-service quite a bit in the past. My general consensus has been that while they make sense in certain cases, the logistical and technical limitations mean that third-party hosted desktops will probably be a minority for the near future. (I said they weren't ready yet as recently as March.) But what's interesting is that the past few months have seen an explosion of offerings in this space.

And I'm not talking about those interesting-yet-quirky browser-based desktops (here and here) or the future desktop (small "d")--I'm talking about gold old-fashioned monolithic Microsoft Windows-based (Big "D") Desktops, accessed from a third-party provider via a remote display protocol.

Just take a look at all the companies who now have offerings here: (Seriously, half of these are new in the past 30 days.):

(By the way, Desktone has a trademark on the term DaaS, which is why you see all these weird things like vDaaS and wDaaS.)

So what do you think? Is the third-party cloud-based hosted desktop market ready for an explosion? Or is this industry primed for an implosion?

My personal view is that we're not yet ready in any kind of major way. I just don't think the technology is ready enough for most users to be far away from the place where their desktops run. Remote protocols over Internet connections just don't support the unlimited graphics, peripherals, and speeds that we need today. Sure, you could argue that these cloud-based desktops would be a good fit for a subset of desktops--like only the physical desktop (i.e. non-laptop) users with simpler needs, but that's the argument that I'm making. These things are great for simpler environments and to play with (and they make for good DR sites), but they're not for everyone today.

On the other hand, if you can come up with a good reason as to why your desktop should run in a datacenter, then I'm all for getting that desktop the hell out of your datacenter and into a cloud provider. Let them deal with all the mechanical crap so that you can just focus on your apps and data. Yeah, I know that moving the desktop off-site requires a lot of work, like figuring out authentication and data storage and maintenance. But I truly believe that the actual hosting should be done offsite somewhere. And of course if you want to move your desktop into a datacenter, then you're probably motivated by something other than saving money. (After all, if you just wanted to save money, then why would you take what could be done on a $300 piece of hardware and move it into a datacenter where you have to pay for cooling, heating, bandwidth, virtual desktop licenses, etc.

To be clear, though, I still feel that the limitation right now is technical. And I feel that we'll ultimately overcome it enough so that 100% of Windows desktops are running in the cloud. But I don't we're ready for that right now. So why are all these companies here all of the sudden?

 
 




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Daniel Bolton wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Mon, Jun 20 2011 3:42 AM Link To This Comment

I agree that “we’re” not ready yet. Some governance/compliance issues (that maybe internal politics) but mainly technical and in MY case cost. Due to our excellent hardware/software discounts, cloud based desktops and RDS sessions are 6,7,8 times (if not more) the cost of ourselves hosting internally. That’s hosting, not end-point cost and internal networking outside of the data centre. I’m willing to bet each desktop and RDS session has a lot more horse power behind it too!

But if that applies to “me” then other people in my sector, healthcare and local government (UK anyway) will find it cheaper to internally host and if they say otherwise then they have bad relationships with a, their IT staff and b, their suppliers. Also maybe their outsourcing their IT provision because they have money to burn.

Ok so what about private sector? You’re (hosting providers not Brian) telling me that $1 per day for a hosted desktop (not inc MS license costs, management, etc , etc, end-points) is still cheaper than hosting internally? Something is f**ked up there then! One of the guys who left here to work for an unnamed bank last year shared the cost of their Citrix XenDesktop (In a very heated argument about why he uses Citrix and not vWorkspace) infrastructure and the costs were about 4 times that of mine but still cheaper than hosting externally. Also the cheeky bast**d is getting a better CISCO discount than we are for networking!

@Brian you mention authentication so basically AD… So what does that mean? We have to have a replica with the hosting provider too? A tunnel opened into our network? Trusted domain host externally? What about user management, app deployment, virtual apps? Will we need all these hosting externally too? Costs are in creasing if we do.

In their current state I see "cloud" desktops in more of a DR situation for mission critical “users”/functions and small use cases (local libraries, internet cafes, etc). Or maybe when you can’t actually host them in your own data centres for whatever reason, space, power, etc.

Why the sudden boom? Well simple, lots of hype around the “cloud” at present and their all trying to cash in on the perceived action. I think cloud desktops will become a realistic reality in the not to distant future. I guess it’s good to get a footprint early.

Oh, you also missed http://tucloud.com/ from your list of “all the companies”.

virtkiller wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Mon, Jun 20 2011 11:34 AM Link To This Comment

Say whatever you want about vWorksplace vs. Citrix just like you always do Daniel.  vWorkspace isin't the worst thing in the world...However, there are many reasons why the majority of the companies above are using HDX/XenDesktop over anything else.

I feel comfortable running a remoting protocol/solution that's been proven and optimized over two decades.

Harry Labana wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Mon, Jun 20 2011 12:42 PM Link To This Comment

If you don't want to outsource your entire desktop and application operation to a cloud provider then I'd agree hosted desktops are niche. I'd hate to use a remote hosted desktop to connect back to my internal app infrastructure since performance and predictability will be poor with the hop of the remoting protocol and then the additional hop back to the apps. Putting your hosted desktop infrastructure close/next to your application infrastructure makes the most sense.

Hosted apps in the cloud for focused use cases make a lot more sense IMO.

Daniel Bolton wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Mon, Jun 20 2011 12:59 PM Link To This Comment

@virtkiller Whats that got to do with the price of eggs? or this post for that matter? :)

Mike L. Chase wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Sat, Jun 25 2011 4:00 AM Link To This Comment

I know virtual desktops have finally arrived.  I'm writing this comment from a virtual desktop via the Internet. I and thousands of others literally live on it all day and it can use Office 2010, many other apps and even surf youtube at 1080p fullscreen on up to 6 monitors.  95% of usb devices work.  I can print to corporate and even my home printers (which are on HP jetdirectards on my home network).  No VPN required.   dinCloud.com virtualized En Pointe, a company which has thousands of users in multiple countries; from personal experience its a very addictive experience having an always on desktop that can be accessed via any device (windows, mac, linux, ipad, android, etc) from anywhere and runs lightning fast -- even at 1800 miles away.  VMware and Citrix won't get you there; dinCloud optimizes Microsoft RDP and RemoteFX by 62%.   I believe Desktone and IBM use Verde, which I think is better than Citrix but is still Linux based and again, Microsoft Windows owns the desktop.   VMware View is  based on a protocol they don't even own (Teradici PCOIP).  Citrix is costly and complex; I was recently at an event where the Citrix advocate literally said to the crowd "you won't save money but who cares, you're getting 20 new features".  huh??  dinCloud can build their Microsoft-centric solution in their public cloud OR your private cloud (your datacenter) and for $0 CAPEX (no money out of your pocket).  That's huge because real costs are about $22M for every 5000 users on VDI.  Infrastructure isnt cheap.  dinCloud is the FIRST and ONLY Cloud Provider offering not just virtual desktops, but servers, apps, storage, voice, video and connectivity in the Cloud.  dinCloud has 20 user doctors offices on it as well as multi-national companies who host their servers, desktops, phone etc there.  If you have at least 1 foot in the Cloud you can do things you could never do on your own (DIY) anyway like rent applications on a per user per month basis (i.e. Microsoft Office 2010, visio, project, you name it).  As we all know, Microsoft licensing is a whole maze of its own and if a Cloud Provider tells you to just use what licensing you've got d move it into the Cloud, they are misinformed.  dinCloud's relationship and rollout with En Pointe gave it access to 1 of the top 4 Microsoft Large Account Resellers (LARs) and there's only 13 in the USA (how many of are those are Cloud Providers?!).  Don't get bit by a Microsoft fine, true-up or other licensing snafu.  Meanwhile zero/thin clients just don't work.  Try surfing youtube on one, simple example but it says volumes about where most desktop solutions today are at.  Yet dinCloud has a thinPC (not thin client, thin PC) device which is $268 and supports dual monitors out of the box (I use one at home and at work).  dinCloud also has an offline desktop for when you can't be connected to your online desktop but need to keep working anyway (and will sync to cloud when connectivity is available later).  Plus, most virtual desktop solutions today are pretty basic whereas dinCloud offers a complete solution (microsoft OS licensing, anti-virus, malware, ips/ids, patching, backup/recovery, monitoring, alerting, encryption, mutlifactor authentication, user metrics, dns/dhcp/ip adress mgmt, helpdesk, so much more) and from leading companies in the industry who agreed to per user/per month pricing which is about 1/5 the cost of perpetual licenses if you do it yourself.  And since you can stick the dinCloud solution in your datacenter or in the cloud or both, there's few excuses left not to do it.   It's that or you're stuck solving your own set of 64 major problems required to deliver VDI infrastructure and HVD (hosted virtual desktops) any 1 of which will kill your entire project.  So I think to be successful in Cloud you have to find a company like dinCloud that was building physical datacenters for over 17 years, can handle Microsoft licensing, provides the entire next generation datacenter portfolio of services in either a public/private cloud (or both), and has a guaranteed result.  Personally, I was ready for a virtual desktop 5 years ago but wasnt going to jump unless it was as good or better. I'm not willing to give up any functionality just to get a new fangled toy.   I'm glad I finally have one and can honestly say I rely 100% on it to get my work done and it works like a breeze. dinCloud brought in 25 major vendors to make it happen in a unified solution that is years ahead of VMware, Citrix, Virtual Bridges VERDE and everyone else.  When's the last time you saw anyone cooperate in this industry?  And therein lies the problem..... but virtual desktops today via the LAN, WAN and Internet? fast? cheap? built onsite or offsite where you need it?  and it just works? YES!!!!  

Mike L. Chase wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Sat, Jun 25 2011 4:28 AM Link To This Comment

check it out - dinCloud's HVD (hosted virtual desktop)

www.youtube.com/watch

Mark Moeller wrote re: Are we seeing a resurgence (or just a surge) in cloud-based SaaS desktops?
on Tue, Jul 5 2011 4:31 PM Link To This Comment

As a service provider offering Hosted Virtual Desktops, I can tell you that we are seeing a surge in interest and demand for our services.  It's hard to call it a resurgence or we would have seen a lot more hosted desktops in the past.

I agree the industry has been struggling with finding the right and reliable technologies to provide a HVD, and we have tried most of them. However we now have a very reliable and scalable platform that provides customers an excellent end user experience and the multi-tenant scalability for ICC to build a profitable business model.

We can all argue that a HVD is not the right solution for all use cases but for the majority of users it's an enhancement to their data security & accessibility and the best way to support access to desktop apps from any device.

The main cause for the transformation of in-house VDI to Hosted Virtual Desktops (DaaS if you like) is that it has been proven that a service provider like ICC can provide a virtual desktop quicker, better, and cheaper than all those over budget, over schedule, and failed in-house VDI experiments.  It's the classic outsourcing sales process and for those people willing to look at desktop virtualization with an open mind, a hosted virtual desktop is the right solution right now.  SMBs are searching for a way to simplify desktop support while granting access to resources from more platforms and BYO initiatives.  VDI makes their heads spin and hosted virtual desktops simplifies desktop support while supporting more devices.  that's a Win Win in anyone's book.

I'm personally hoping the HVD surge becomes a tsunami.

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