The popularity of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Workspace as a Service (WaaS) has continued to increase, as has the number of providers offering such services. DaaS/WaaS is split between two types of customers: the do-it-yourself (DIY) types and those who enlist the assistance of a service provider to implement and maintain these services.
Unfortunately, DaaS/WaaS is often marketed in an oversimplified way, using messaging such as “Provide your users with a virtual desktop in no time at all.” That’s fine if all your users need is the desktop itself, but how many users really require only a virtualized Windows 10 workstation?
Realistically, users need applications. Without them, the value of the vanilla virtual desktop is limited. Users need to access customer databases, accounting software, office productivity applications, collaboration and communication tools, centralized file repositories, and much more. As such, installing applications or enabling access to them is a critical piece of a virtual desktop implementation.
While virtual desktops can be provided via a premises-based solution, a key market for DaaS/WaaS is the small business market. The lower end of the mid-market also has some traction. Target businesses may include, for example, local law firms and service companies that need real technology solutions but just don’t have the people or desire to maintain them themselves.
The DaaS/WaaS solutions range from fairly basic virtual desktops with limited usefulness to ones that are fully loaded with applications. With each step of complexity comes greater functionality at a steeper price.
CloudJumper is a veteran provider in the DaaS/Waas space, and Workspot is a recent entry to this market. From a technology standpoint, not being first to market has a few advantages. The brunt of many of the hard lessons learned based on bleeding-edge technology have already been absorbed by someone else.
Workspot positions itself as the next-generation Citrix, but is it really? Although several former Citrix employees and a former VMware executive now get their paychecks from Workspot, calling it the next generation of Citrix VDI is a bit misleading. The comparison is largely based on the full on-premises model, without inclusion of the cloud offering. At the same time, Workspot says that it can provide the actual virtual desktops based on an on-premises hypervisor. The marketing message certainly lacks clarity.
Of course, Citrix can provide the full on-premises virtualization solution and has been doing so since the early days of WinFrame and MetaFrame. It was called server-based computing in those days, and it was the predecessor of virtualization.
Further, Citrix has been on the forefront of cloud-based virtualized applications and desktops. Citrix Cloud offers the control plane as a service and allows virtualized desktops and servers to be located either in the cloud or on-premises. As such, if an enterprise uses Citrix Cloud for the infrastructure components—e.g., delivery controllers and NetScaler—the XenApp servers and XenDesktop virtual desktops can also be housed on Azure or Amazon Web Services. Voilà, a full cloud solution! This solution allows an initial VDI deployment to be completed quickly either by a DIY IT department or as a consulting project.
In addition, Citrix Cloud can be deployed by a Citrix partner, who can provide the services required to install and maintain applications. Thus, from the customer standpoint, the Citrix Cloud solution can provide the complete cloud-based virtualization infrastructure as well as optional initial application deployment and ongoing services.
Workspot bases its offering on the RDP protocol, which is quite good but certainly not as robust as ICA/HDX from Citrix. While RDP supports most bandwidth requirements and basic peripherals, the capabilities of ICA/HDX are a key distinguishing factor for Citrix.
Workspot, as a late player to the market, has been able to build in what could be viewed as more tightly integrated features, such as two-factor authentication and mobility solutions. Unlike longstanding virtualization solutions, this avoids the need to bolt features onto an existing infrastructure.
The DaaS/WaaS market is expanding and becoming more challenging. Workspot faces strong headwinds from Citrix and VMware with regard to their on-premises and cloud offerings. In addition, providers such as CloudJumper have been tackling the DaaS/WaaS market successfully for several years, focused on both direct sales and private label VDI.