In the future, will DaaS desktops be a “free” value-add from cloud providers?

The margins on DaaS desktops are already razor thin for many providers, which they compensate for with volume. But as the amount of compute power we have rises, density (or the number of desktops we can run on a given amount of hardware for a similiar price) also increases.

The margins on DaaS desktops are already razor thin for many providers, which they compensate for with volume. But as the amount of compute power we have rises, density (or the number of desktops we can run on a given amount of hardware for a similiar price) also increases. This could mean more margin per desktop for the provider, but it could also mean that the providers can deliver desktops so cheaply that they could almost be given away.

Ok, so no business is going to just give desktops away—there has to be something in it for them. So what if Amazon or Microsoft, for instance, used “free” desktops as a way to draw in customers looking to move other services to the cloud. As an example, Microsoft could say “Use Office 365 along with Exchange, plus use two of our other offerings, and we’ll give you Azure RemoteApp for the rest of your applications for free.”

In a way, this is like renting a venue for a conference or wedding reception. For a show like BriForum, we don’t pay to rent space, we pay to buy food and coffee. And if we buy enough food and coffee, the rooms are “free.”

The incentive for the providers is to get companies to buy into a cloud platform, and if offering pissy little Windows workloads for nothing is enough to get organizations to move their infrastructure and platform services to the cloud, that model just might make sense. Sure, the world tries to resist lock-in, but how many of you went out and bought that VDI solution that works with all the hypervisors and all the protocols and all the thin clients? You know the one…

...oh right. We’re locked in.

Frankly, in a move to the cloud who wants to spread their IT services across multiple platforms or service providers? Think of all the management consoles! Lock-in is just part of the game, and it has been for years. Microsoft, Amazon, VMware, Google, Citrix, and others could do this or something like it to incentivize people to join their platform.

From a customer’s perspective, there are still so many physical Windows desktops that it’s probably not likely to happen today, but think about what happens as more of our critical applications move towards cloud services (or at least move away from being native Windows apps). Solutions like Azure RemoteApp become more appealing, and if you can get it for free by buying into the whole stack as part of your cloud migration, what’s the harm?

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I love this idea, especially since desktops don't really "do" anything on their own.


Seems like Microsoft would make the most logical sense, which of course means that we'll never see it.


Maybe we can get it from Shell or BP. "Free Desktop with every 8 gallon fuel purchase?"


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I see it slightly different. They can use DaaS as a way to hourly charge for the use of applications. For example,  I want to edit a video using Adobe Premiere and After Effects but I edit a few videos in a year. I can then connect to a DaaS that charge me for the hourly/daily usage instead of buying a product or subscribing to monthly plans.


Obviously we are not discussing here the bandwidth and performance required to edit and move videos back and forth. That's another story.


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My mind jumps to "hey kid... your first hit is free..."  :)


There is an interesting fine point here - If *ALL* an enterprise wants is a desktop that they (their IT dept) will manage, maybe an AWS is the way to go.  And AWS knows fair well that it makes sense for customers to co-locate data and apps in the AWS cloud too. So offering a "free" tip-of-the-sales-arrow (loss-leader) makes great strategic sense because it will drag all other types of billable resources.


However the AWS's of the world can't offer "business-ready" desktops -- i.e. in the model above, the customer IT department makes the DT ready for line-of-business use by equipping it with apps etc. and maintaining those images.


But the "free DT" model falls down where you have smaller businesses who are not able (don't have the IT expertise) to maintain their own DTs.  That's where partners will probably play a role. We're seeing smaller businesses (that don't have an IT staff) look to smaller DaaS players to provide/maintain those "business-ready" desktops for them.  


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@Gabe, I think the desktop can be free, but the money will be made it selling the management and service to make then as Ken say's business ready. Problem for Citrix is that they are not in the desktop management business and their app management strategy is just XenApp publishing. Microsoft does not do s h i t. VMware horizon 6 is a just a crappy XenApp and they have no desktop management strategy, except for ThinApp which is good for about 20% of apps. So we far away from enough value to bother even if offered free.


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