This week saw the announcement of VMware’s DaaS offering—VMware Horizon DaaS—based around the acquisition of Desktone in October 2013. This arrival in the marketplace is significant for VMware in that it represents the first entry of a large technology incumbent into the DaaS marketplace.

The Desktone platform and the highly scalable broker that VMware pursued have been rebranded as VMware Horizon DaaS. This has actually been available from partners for a while (the partner-hosted model is different from getting it VMware-hosted), but now it can be obtained directly via the vCloud Hybrid Service, although this has a minimum requirement of fifty desktop endpoints. However, because Horizon DaaS allows partners to go to market with a full cloud desktop service, this would mean that the partners can market the product to smaller enterprises that don’t have that number of users.

It’s not entirely clear whether Horizon DaaS replaces Horizon View (which is the on-premises VDI offering that VMware has had for some time). I’d anticipate that eventually Horizon DaaS may evolve and replace View, or that the two products will merge merge to create one unified platform.

At the moment, though, VMware effectively has three options for DaaS: off-premises public cloud, on-premises private cloud, and now hybrid cloud. This combination of public and private cloud desktops is an industry first, although other providers—particularly Microsoft—may be quick to follow. Another advantage (particularly for larger firms) is the fact that the public and private instances can be managed through a single interface due to the integration with View.

Horizon Daas

Beating WorkSpaces into Workplaces

The main thrust, though, is the fact that VMware has beaten Amazon into the marketplace, despite Amazon’s having announced WorkSpaces over four months ago. Admittedly, VMware acquired Desktone rather than rolling out its own solution, but putting together the necessary pieces of the puzzle for marketing the product, as well as integrating with Horizon View, in a fairly short space of time is still something of a coup for VMware.

Amazon pitched its product as being the cheapest available, but VMware’s offering also sits at around the $35/month mark, well in line with that of WorkSpaces. However, Amazon does offer more memory and storage around its price points. Admittedly, there is little in point doing a full comparison until Amazon actually releases WorkSpaces—it is available in a limited preview currently—but it seems apparent that the two products are aiming at at least some of the same markets.

On the other hand, Amazon only offers Windows Server 2008 R2 re-skinned as a “Windows 7-style” desktop, whereas VMware is offering full Windows 7 and 8 desktops. This is a definite advantage to VMware—but this isn’t an exclusive thing. On its blog it mentions “we offer full Windows desktops…compared to other DaaS providers’ offerings that are limited to bare metal Windows server and RDS desktops.” Whilst Amazon and MS currently don’t offer client OSes, other providers (dinCloud springs to mind) actually do offer them, so it may be worth mentioning that this option isn’t an industry first for VMware, despite what its announcement seems to indicate.

The Future?

It will remain to be seen how well VMware can “harmonize” the Horizon DaaS and Horizon View platforms, and how well the model will work at scale. There is also the question of the response from Amazon, Microsoft, Citrix, and maybe even Google, as the other big hitters in the industry strive to get on board the DaaS train. In my opinion, both Microsoft and Amazon will be the biggest contenders, as they have more experience in maintaining cloud platforms. VMware has certainly struck a blow by being the first of the tech titans to market with this—but it’s not always he who hits first who hits hardest.

Read the press release here.

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James Rankin (19 Posts)

James has worked in IT since 1995, spending nearly ten years as a server engineer and systems administrator before choosing to focus heavily on user and application virtualization in late 2004. Based in the north-east of England, he runs his own consultancy focusing primarily on Citrix, AppSense, Microsoft and VMware technologies. He recently received the AppSense Community Advisor award for contributions to the online USV community.

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