Budget VDI Leader NComputing Joins DaaS Party

NComputing logoNComputing is joining the highly competitive Desktop as a Service (DaaS) business with an extension of its vSpace VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) platform that enables service providers to offer Desktops as a Service at a fraction of the cost of currently available services. At the same time, NComputing has announced that it has been selected by So-net, a member of the Sony Group, for its new DaaS service, which goes live across Japan today (May 21, 2014).

NComputing’s new DaaS platform builds on its existing vSpace shared desktop virtualization product with the addition of an overarching management and licensing layer that can control services for multiple independent tenants within each service provider’s cloud.

NComputing’s vSpace relies on operating system session virtualization, in which applications run on a single OS instance, like Citrix XenApp does, rather than offering full virtual machine isolation. This approach requires significantly lower resources than needed by full desktop OS virtualization, as used by Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View. At the same time, vSpace avoids the Microsoft-imposed VDI tax, which requires desktop OS–based systems to pay an annual VDA license fee to run a virtual desktop.

NComputing DaaS Service Provider Architecture
NComputing DaaS Service Provider Architecture

The low-cost approach to virtual desktops has provided NComputing with considerable success in education markets worldwide and has made it the world’s third-largest thin client manufacturer and market leader in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, as well as generating over 4.5 million vSpace license sales.

So-net chose NComputing’s vSpace SBC-based DaaS platform over VDI-based alternatives, citing the lower cost and higher margins that session-based isolation enables. Also influential in the decision was NComputing’s ability to deliver a localized end-to-end package that includes NComputing’s L-300 thin clients for customers looking for a turnkey desktop replacement package. So-net has developed its own management portal, Self Care, which allows its customers to automate the provisioning and management of  desktops. This management layer is part of a common infrastructure service accessible to all So-net customers; however, each tenant has its own isolated set of vSpace servers to provide physical separation of services. So-net is offering cloud desktops in the same $1–$1.50 per day range quoted by other DaaS providers; however, given the inherently lower cost of providing a shared OS instance and NComputing’s lower licensing cost when compared to VDI market leaders, NComputing should be able to achieve greater margins than alternative solutions. This cost differential is likely to benefit NComputing in its primary markets in APAC and Latin America, as will NComputing’s ability to use vSpace to deliver Linux desktops, which has a much larger market share in developing regions than it does in Europe and North America.

NComputing is opening up its new DaaS platform to other service providers both in North America and other regions in the second half of 2014, offering it as a flexible pay-as-you-go service allowing service providers to start small and grow their service in line with customer demand. The relative simplicity of the NComputing DaaS platform should appeal to smaller service providers, especially those with little or no past experience of implementing DaaS service offerings. Looking beyond this initial release, NComputing will be extending the platform to incorporate features from its forthcoming oneSpace workspace virtualization solution, which will allow service providers to extend their services to deliver Windows and Linux applications as well as desktops.

Extending the DaaS platform to a virtual workspace is a major point of differentiation for NComputing and its service providers. The prospects for cloud-scale application delivery have never been better. While DaaS is a very crowded and competitive market, fully flexible virtual workspace services are few and far between. The only real contenders today are those built on enterprise platforms that have been co-opted by individual service providers for the cloud. By incorporating oneSpace into its DaaS platform, NComputing will compete with Citrix Workspace Services from the outset. While pricing is not yet announced, it is safe to assume that NComputing will be pricing its solution significantly below that of Citrix. The only other real contenders at present are UK-based Centrex Software, which, while it took an early lead in virtual workplace solutions, has not yet directly addressed the service provider market, and possibly Glassware from Toronto-based Sphere 3D, which also claims multi-OS support.