The Rise of Workspace as a Service
In the last several months, a new class of cloud services known as workspace as a service (WaaS) has started to pick up momentum. Instead of thinking in terms managing desktops, these cloud services provide a more comprehensive offering that combines both the desktop and the applications that an organization might want to use.
The latest one of these offerings comes this week from CloudJumper, a spin-off of nGenx that provides both telecommunications and cloud services. With the launch of nWorkspace, CloudJumper is now looking for managed service providers to either resell or white-label a WaaS environment built on top of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) technology developed by Microsoft, said CloudJumper President John Helms. The existence of RDP makes it much simpler to create a WaaS offering that is much less complex to deliver than it would be using rival technologies from either Citrix or VMware, Helms added.
While desktop and application virtualization held a lot of promise, cost complexity challenges have resulted in minimal adoption of both forms of virtualization inside and outside the cloud. A big reason for that is that end customers in want something that provides them a better user experience than they themselves could offer using an internal IT staff to manage their existing desktops.
The number of organizations that might embrace WaaS is unknown. But for MSPs, that rise of WaaS comes at an interesting time. With more organizations migrating to cloud applications, such as Microsoft Office 365, the margins they make reselling a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application are razor -thin. WaaS enables them to offer a platform experience encompassing multiple applications generate higher margins.
There are already a number of WaaS alternatives. Helms said MSPs would be well-advised to take a hard look at the underlying data center environment being used to deliver a service—to make sure it's not just two guys with a server in a closet somewhere that can only support a limited number of concurrent users.
Of course, down the road it's possible that both Microsoft and Google will have ambitions in the WaaS space as well. However, in the meantime, the rise of WaaS should give MSPs another offering to add to their lineups that they can sell at a higher margin. WaaS also enables MSPs to embed themselves much deeper in the workflow of their customers than any desktop virtualization service ever could.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.