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With the vast majority of IT organizations still running Windows XP, it’s apparent that a significant upgrade opportunity lies ahead for the channel. What’s not clear is what form that upgrade will take.

While Microsoft still dominates the corporate desktop, alternatives such as the Apple Macintosh and Google Apps have clearly gained momentum. Microsoft, meanwhile, is pushing customers to adopt either the forthcoming edition of Windows 8 or its previous Windows 7 offering.

Even then, there are many options when it comes to deployment models. Microsoft has historically favored desktop deployments on a PC or laptop. However, as a variety of desktop virtualization options have become more viable over the years, many IT organizations have come to believe that the desktop virtualization option is now mature enough to adopt.

The three biggest providers of desktop virtualization offerings are Microsoft, VMware and Citrix. Microsoft is expected to push for a service based on the Microsoft Azure platform. VMware is marketing VMware Horizon View, and Citrix has signaled its intentions to deliver Windows as a desktop service.

To one degree or another, these vendors have been driving these alternatives as either something customers can buy directly from them or through one of their channel partners. The problem for the channel is that these delivery models create a potential conflict.

In contrast, a new Cloud Workspace offering from independenceIT provides a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) product that is being sold exclusively through the channel. According to Seth Bostock, executive vice president, Cloud Workspace gives channel partners a unique cloud platform option for deploying Windows desktops that they can take to any customer without fear of having to give up that account should one of the larger vendors decide to take that business direct.

Cloud Workspace gives channel partners the option of deploying more than 400 preconfigured applications on Windows desktops running on virtual machines from Microsoft, VMware or Citrix. The solution is also compatible with managed service management platforms from ConnectWise, Autotask and N-Able.

Bostock said independenceIT also supports HTML5 to provide access to applications, along with a defined set of APIs that will make it easier for developers to integrate multiple applications. He added that the company will differentiate itself by making DaaS easily accessible and delivering it using a simple, predictable pricing model.

“We’re a channel-only company,” Bostock said, “but what makes us really different is that we think deploying DaaS should be as easy and as simple as deploying a mobile phone.”

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.