OK, so many of you have seen this picture circulating around the web recently and the point beyond the humor is that many Mac users also need access to Windows applications because there isn’t a Mac or web based application available or the Mac version lacks the full features of the Windows version. Not a slam to Mac users/lovers just a reality to common applications like Quickbooks or even addins for Salesforce.com.
- Client Hypervisors
Traditionally some have run applications like Parallels or VMware Fusion (see a comparison here published by Parallels) but these require a separate virtual machine running on your Mac. These applications are not for the non-technical user since they require installation of their virtual machine on your Mac along with a full Windows installation. And yes, there’s the license of their app along with the rather expensive full Windows OS license cost as well.
- Hosted Virtual Desktops
A hosted virtual desktop approach may be a simpler approach since there is no client hypervisor to install and no Microsoft OS installation or license cost. Yes, there are separate DaaS (Desktop as a Service) costs but access from the Mac is a simple browser login making it very simple for Mac users. The hosted virtual desktop is also available from multiple devices including Macs, PCs, iPads, and Android tablets making the application access available from anywhere and not just installed on a single device.
Real world examples
Many of our customers at ICC Global Hosting are using their Macs to access their hosted virtual desktop or hosted application and for most of these their Mac is their primary but not only device with commonly a secondary iPad device for mobile or home use. In some cases these are BYOD users who prefer to use their own personal Mac at home but more often just people who have selected a Mac as their primary device at work and need to get to core Windows based line of business applications or applications that only run on Internet explorer. I have previously discussed the benefits of a Hosted IE browser, “Running Internet Explorer on your iPad or Android Tablet for Apps that require specific browser settings”.
Gartner study sites hybrid cloud growth
In the October 3, 2013 FierceCIO article “Hybrid cloud deployments on the way up, says Gartner” author Paul Mah cites the recent Gartner study where Gartner’s analyst, Thomas Bittman, states “nearly half of all large enterprises will have a hybrid cloud deployment by the end of 2017.”
Bittman also states, “While the majority of midsize and large enterprises will build and deploy private cloud services over the next few years, private cloud will only be used for specific, appropriate services.”
What’s a hybrid cloud?
According to SearchCloudComputing ”a hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally. The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities.”
Hybrid clouds are great for Hosted Virtual Desktops and Hosted Virtual Applications?
Now that the Cloud is not a new concept and Enterprises are starting to adopt use of the Cloud, organizations are choosing the best solution for wide adoption. Most organizations cannot make the numbers work on an internal VDI implementation, and why would they if they can go buy DaaS as a more cost effective solution and focus their internal resources on higher value key applications. Common line of business apps are better hosted in the Cloud. The ease of implementation without acquired assets more than justifies the Cloud for line of business apps. Often, a LOB manager can make a Cloud decision with little or no IT involvement which is a win for everyone. Some large internal applications, for example ERP, are often so customized and delicate they’re better off running in a private cloud or on-site.
Our customers have seen tremendous advantages in using Hosted Virtual Desktops and saved tons of money compared to building their own VDI. We commonly host LOB Apps as Hosted Virtual Applications which eliminates the need for building servers, getting IT approval, and keeps the application purchase decision in the LOB’s hands.
Small and medium businesses have already figured this out
Enterprises have been slow to adopt the Cloud and commonly the ones to misconstrue virtualization or co-location as the Cloud. I have previously written about this but Enterprises are starting to catch-up. Of course Gartner doesn’t generally write to or about the SMB or SME markets but many of these smaller organizations have found tremendous value in the Cloud with Hosted Virtual Desktops and Hosted Virtual Applications.
It’s great to see analysts predicting hybrid cloud growth but the key thing here is Enterprises are finally adopting the Cloud.
Why Small Businesses use Managed Service Providers
Small business runs on technology and in many cases it’s the technology that gives them a competitive advantage over their larger competitors so there’s a high value for IT and IT support for small businesses. However, most small businesses can’t afford a full time employee to manage their computers and servers so they turn to a local Managed Service Provider (MSP) to do what most people refer to as “Break / Fix” services. In other words, a person they can call to fix something when it breaks. That’s a pretty reactive approach and often by the time a computer breaks the business owner is in the lurch for a quick fix and may have already lost his data when the computer broke.Then at the mercy of the repair guy, the fix is always an unexpected and unwelcome expense. So the MSP industry has evolved to also provide a maintenance agreement to remotely monitor your computers to help predict when something may be going wrong and in some cases fix things without coming to your office and crawling under your desk.
So for the small business owner, the MSP is now engaged and watching out for them and paying the MSP for both the “Break / Fix” plus the maintenance agreement. Certainly more proactive but still stuck in the cycle of having desktops and servers in the office with updates, upgrades, and hardware replacement that needs to be done. And don’t forget the concerns about your business stopping when the server crashes, the power fails, or there’s some other emergency in your building. Things that keep you up at night.
Along Comes the Cloud
Cloud Computing is a topic at every trade conference and small businesses have been leaders in adopting the Cloud. As I have previously written, SMBs are embracing the Cloud, “SMBs are Winning the Cloud with Cloud Mobility while Enterprise Cloud Adoption Laggers“, and even more so are start-ups, “Start-ups use DaaS to start their business in the Cloud“. Just imagine the business agility a start-up has if they have no investment in servers and give their employees the choice of working from a PC, Mac, or any device they want to use. The biggest benefit of the Cloud is purchasing only the resources you need and getting rid of on-site servers and all of those server related things that keep you up at night. If you have a “server room” like the one in the picture, you could eliminate the tangle of wires and extension cords by moving to the Cloud. No more concerns about back-ups, power, security, or buying a new server. You may also gain some storage space.
What Your MSP Isn’t Telling You
What your MSP may not be telling you is you can simplify your life, reduce your exposure, increase your security and business continuity, and even reduce you costs by dumping your servers and moving your applications and desktop support to the cloud. This may not be good news for your friend the MSP since there will be less “Break / Fix” work to be done and much less management. For most SMBs the server in the closet is running Microsoft’s Small Business Server which is running a domain controller, Active Directory, Exchange, and acting as a file server. In addition, there may be a couple of applications like QuickBooks, CRM, or some other line of business application. This can all very simply be moved to the Cloud and none of this needs to be on-site. Once this is moved to the Cloud, these applications and your users won’t be tied to the office either with all of the applications security available from a Hosted Virtual Desktop on any device over the Internet. Your data and back-ups will all be managed in a secure data center and with the data center redundancies you don’t have to worry about servers crashing or ever buying another server, ever! All of your applications and desktop support managed in the Cloud by a Cloud Service Provider. Security, business continuity, and less stress all allowing you to sleep better at night.
Is Cloud Computing Right for Your Business?
Determining whether or not Cloud Computing is right for you is not too complicated and in a previous post, “How to Select a DaaS Provider“, I discussed some of the things to consider. However, your MSP might not be the best person to ask if they are not equipped to provide Cloud services. If they were the ones who turned your closet into a server room, you may need to look for a Cloud Service Provider who is used to managing clients from a data center. Hosted Virtual Desktops and Application Hosting can all be provided in the Cloud from a data center and you can eliminate servers and on-site support.
If you’d like to consider whether the Cloud is right for your business, please contact ICC Global Hosting at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website, at www.iccglobalhosting.com, to learn about how we have moved other small businesses to the Cloud.
ICC salutes the many Georgian telecommuters.
Once again this year we’d like to join the The Clean Air Campaign in promoting telecommuting across Georgia, and everywhere. The Fourth annual Telework Week runs from August 19th to 23rd, 2013. Over 260 Georgian companies have joined the effort to promote the benefits of telecommuting.
Attend a local Georgia Telework Summit event near you.
64% of managers surveyed agreed telework provides their organizations with a competitive advantage. Why? Because telework is a business strategy that can improve productivity and morale while reducing facilities costs. While companies like Yahoo! are suspending their programs, employers in Georgia are expanding their efforts, with access to free resources via Georgia Commute Options to help start, expand or refresh formal telework programs. Attend a summit to learn firsthand about the best ways to start or expand a telework program at your workplace. Hear from public and private sector employers about unique strategies that made their programs succeed. There is no cost to attend either event. For more details and registration go to http://www.gacommuteoptions.com/Employer-Services/Telework-Compressed-Work-Week-and-Flextime-Consulting/Telework/Support-Georgia-Telework-Week-2013.
Enable Telecommuting with Hosted Virtual Desktops
Of course the key to telecommuting is providing your employees with the tools to be productive from their home office and what better way than with a Hosted Virtual Desktop. A hosted virtual desktop provides a telecommuting employee with secure access to their full desktop, corporate applications, and all of their data for their home computer, laptop, or tablet. So whether your company supports full-time telecommuting, part-time telecommuting, or just a BYOD program for the occasional telecommuter, a hosted virtual desktop is a cost effective and secure solution.
ICC Global Hosting Supporting Telecommuters
Many of our customers’ employees telecommute as do many of ICC’s employees to some degree. We host desktops for several virtual companies, companies without a centralized office, and a see the demand for mobility and telecommuting as top drivers for our growth. For those of you considering a telecommuting program, ICC can help you with:
- Secure remote access to all applications and data otherwise available inside the office.
- A scaleable approach to offer our services for those who need it. You don’t have to virtualize everyone at once. You only pay for as many as you need.
- No upfront costs for infrastructure so you can start small and grow as you want one user at a time.
- A consistent end user experience. The hosted virtual desktop looks just like your office desktop which means no additional training.
- We can support almost any user device so you don’t have to buy everyone a laptop and we can support PCs, Macs, and tablets.
Leveraging the Cloud for Telecommuting
The employer incentives and employee benefits are great for everyone participating in telecommuting programs. Jump start and simplify your telecommuting program through leveraging the Cloud and using Hosted Virtual Desktops.
Using Cloud Based Desktop Applications to Meet Changing Life Styles in the Staffing and Recruiting Industry
Repost from Bond International Software, Inc. Blog from 7-10-2013
Using Cloud Based Desktop Applications to Meet Changing Life Styles in the Staffing and Recruiting Industry
Guest Blog by Mark Moeller
As with most industries the staffing and recruiting industry has seen many changes to their employees’ life styles with more and more workers working from remote offices, telecommuting, or just needing access to their applications from their tablet, PC, or Mac at home. The days of working in the office from 9:00 to 5:00 and the day ending then are becoming more the exception than the rule.
More and more applications are now moving to the Cloud – “applications running in a secured datacenter and accessed via the Internet”. This makes sense for the changing life cycles of many workers and adds a layer of security for your data by keeping the data in the Cloud and not sending data to a potentially unknown or personal device. While Cloud based applications are great, the Cloud based desktop provides the convenience of all of your applications, shared data, and e-mail all accessible from one secure place and from any device anywhere you want it.
Though our partnership with Bond, ICC Global Hosting provides Bond customers with Cloud based desktops which can provide access to Bond applications along with Hosted e-mail, Microsoft Office applications, and shared storage. This solution designed for the staffing and recruiting industry delivers a centralized desktop with all of your applications and data from essentially any device and from anywhere you have a reliable Internet connection. ICC’s Cloud based desktops have a secure connection to Bond applications and all of the end user data and e-mail is secured in our data center preventing data loss from failed back-ups, PC theft, or personnel changes.
ICC’s Cloud desktop simplifies the day to day management of PCs and applications in the office and supports the changing life styles of staffing and recruiting professionals. If you’d like to learn more about how about how Cloud desktops can add flexibility and security for your firm, please contact your Bond Sales Representative or ICC at email@example.com.
Mark Moeller is Vice President Business Development for ICC Global Hosting.
Security is Best in Layers
As all security experts will tell you, security works best in layers. While two-factor authentication is not a new technology, it seems that more and more Cloud and web based applications are using two-factor authentication for that additional layer of protection upon login. The time has come for users to consider two-factor authentication for their Hosted Virtual Desktop.
Yes, we are all aware of the many security advantages of a Hosted Virtual Desktop in isolating the data within its own virtual container and preventing data from being saved locally, but the biggest risk is with your users. User name and password security has become a growing risk as end users use the same logins for multiple sites. The loss of login credentials can potentially now be used for unauthorized access to multiple sites. Two-factor authentication can give end users that extra layer of protection upon login.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
The easiest way to understand two-factor authentication is how your ATM card works. You have something you know, your PIN, and something you have, your ATM card. In order for the ATM machine to authenticate that it’s you, you need both the PIN and the card.
Your Phone is Your Best Token
Over the years there have been lots of two-factor authentication vendors for authenticating your computer login, most of which have issued the end user with a token. These tokens have been small physical devices such as a key fob or USB device and in many cases a “soft token” which is basically a small application on your PC.
Of course all apps have gone mobile and now the most logical token for most people is their phone. What else are you sure to have with you at all times and a phone token is one less thing to carry or lose. In the sample screen to the right is an example of an iPhone token app. In this case, I entered my user name and password to login into my Hosted Virtual Desktop which then immediately sends a login request to the app on my phone. The user name and password are something I know and the “approved” login request on my phone is something I have. Very simple. With ICC Global Hosting’s two-factor authentication this phone token is available on any smart phone device and can also call you at a designated phone number or text you a more traditional passcode. While there is a small additional per user per month fee for this service, there’s no big up-front cost or large minimums of users.
Who Needs Two-Factor Authentication for the Hosted Virtual Desktop?
Two-factor authentication is common in lots of industries such as Finance, Healthcare, and Technology and could also help secure BYOD devices. In reality, with the loss of user names and passwords becoming more common it could be advisable for almost any customer to add two-factor authentication to their Hosted Virtual Desktop.
Office 365 now available for the iPhone
It was announced today that you can download the FREE “Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers” app in the iTunes App Store. Wow, just what everyone’s been wanting. Office on all of their mobile devices.
Oops, not so fast! This free app only works if you have a subscription to Office 365 and only works on your iPhone. Too bad if you wanted that for your iPad and of course it’s not available for any Android device. You can read more of the details in Gary Krakow’s article in TheStreet’s “Microsoft Office for iPhones, Not iPads”.
Lots of demand for Office on Mobile Devices
There is of course lots of demand for Office on mobile devices and I’ve written about that before “MS Office Coming Soon to the iTunes App Store”, over a year ago. The thing that the guys in Redmond just don’t get is that people want to use Office on their tablets and excluding tablets (except for Microsoft’s Surface) is lame since I really can’t edit a PowerPoint presentation on my iPhone. The iPhone screen is just too small. Well, they probably get it but just aren’t willing to allow it yet even though it might help Office 365 sales.
Office on your Hosted Virtual Desktop for any Tablet or Device
So if you want to have access to your files and run Office on your iPad or Android tablet the best bet is still a Hosted Virtual Desktop. Whether it’s for a BYOD user or just a mobile user you can have a full Office Suite, access to all of your files, and your line of business or proprietary apps. A full Windows desktop, on any device, anywhere, and without an Office 365 subscription.
Office from Multiple Devices
There have been lots of apps developed to open and some to edit Microsoft documents and there’s even some native support on the iPad now to open a Word or other Office documents. The key to this from what we see at ICC Global Hosting is our clients use more than one device and want the same easy to use Windows desktop to access all of their Apps and files without a bunch of hoops to jump through to upload and download files or figure out how different versions of Apps work on different devices. Hosted Virtual Desktops keep it simple so even the non-technical user can be productive without a computer degree or help from their son or daughter.
Protecting Microsoft’s Licensing
We’ve all seen or heard of the friend of a friend or download site where you can get an “Office License” which we all know is not a legit license for your device. Microsoft has to be very careful with their software to make sure they get paid for their technology and they should get paid. Hosted Virtual Desktops come with 100% legitimate licensing so you can rest assured that the apps you want work and are supported, and that you’re doing the right thing. Similar to Office 365 this is all part of your monthly Hosted Virtual Desktop subscription.
Microsoft Office for your Tablet or any Device
So if you haven’t tried a Hosted Virtual Desktop, give it a try on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or even Linux desktop. You’ll be able to run all of the Office applications plus any other application that runs on a Windows desktop.
For more information about ICC’s Hosted Virtual Desktops, including Office, please contact us at sales.iccgh.com.
Announcement from Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services
In the April 24, 2013 InvestmentNews article from Davis D. Janowski titled “Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services to offer completely cloud-based desktop to RIAs” Janowski writes about Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services’ announcement of a cloud-based virtual desktop offering for financial advisers. The Fidelity IWS announcement claims to be “the first of the four major custodians” to offer such a service for Registered Investment Advisers, even though RIAs will have to contract for this service separately with the services provided by a third party service provider.
ICC Global Hosting providing Cloud-based Virtual Desktops for RIAs since March 2010
While I certainly agree that a Hosted Virtual Desktop is an ideal platform for a RIAs, Fidelity IWS’ announcement is not new news for RIAs wanting to take advantage of Hosted Virtual Desktops for their business. ICC Global Hosting has been providing Hosted Virtual Desktops for RIAs since March of 2010 and in our sixth year of providing hosted virtual desktops, aka, DaaS. Of course, ICC does not claim to be the only service provider for RIAs but we have been serving RIAs for three years. The possible news in this article may be that Fidelity IWS is “the first of the four major custodians” to offer this type of service.
How RIAs have Benefited from ICC Hosted Virtual Desktops
In our three years of providing Hosted Virtual Desktops to RIAs our customers have benefited greatly from our service with the key benefits of:
- Cloud Mobility and BYOD support – RIAs like many small business owners have become mobile entrepreneurs and need to have access to their data and applications wherever they go; whether it’s to a client meeting, working from home, or away on vacation needing to address an urgent client emergency.
- Fixed and Lower Costs – ICC’s Hosted Virtual Desktops are provided at a fixed cost so there are no surprises upgrades, or hidden support fees. Oh, and ICC’s Hosted Virtual Desktops for RIAs cost much less than quoted as a target price by Fidelity IWS in this article.
- Complete Desktop Service with Flexible Options – ICC’s Hosted Virtual Desktops for RIAs include options for Microsoft Office licensing, Cloud storage, Hosted Exchange and access from any device including PCs, Macs, iPads & iPhones, and Android devices.
Hosted Virtual Desktops an Ideal Solution for Investment Advisers and RIAs
David Janowski astutely and accurately reported the many benefits of a Hosted Virtual Desktop for Investment Advisers and RIAs in his InvestmentNews article. In reference to Hosted Virtual Desktops for RIAs, Edward O’Brien, of Fidelity IWS says in the article, “we envision it as a place advisers can go to get everything they need to run their businesses.” At ICC Global Hosting we have already seen the benefits first hand for our RIA customers over the past 3 years and look forward continuing to grow with our RIA customers. However, keep in mind this is not a new service and I would encourage any RIA to shop around for your Cloud services. Not all service providers are the same and there can be some big differences in services and pricing.
I have previously written about How to Select a DaaS Provider which includes a customer quote from a financial services industry executive which may be helpful in your path to selecting a Hosted Virtual Desktop provider.
Webinar - April 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 EDT
Reducing the cost of VDI with Hosted Virtual Desktops. ICC Global Hosting presents a webinar to discuss Hosted Virtual Desktops as a solution to reduce the cost of virtual desktops, VDI, and provide access to a corporate desktop and data from any device including PCs, Macs, thin clients, iPads, and other tablet devices.
Utilize Desktops as a Service, DaaS, to provide all the benefits of VDI without the infrastructure, staff, or maintenance expenses.
Join us for an informative webinar to discover how you too can lower the cost of VDI.
Starting a business in the Cloud
Most people can agree on the benefits of Cloud technologies (except for those “server huggers” out there) but some recent experiences have made me realize why anyone starting a new business is in the ideal situation to run their business 100% in the Cloud. Since start-ups aren’t burdened with the choice of “doing things the way they’ve always done them”, they can take full advantage of running their business in the Cloud from Day 1.
Unique business requirements of a Start-up
Start-up businesses are hatched from a great idea, limited funding, and an individual(s) with entrepreneurial spirit. These start-ups have the advantage of being able to turn on a dime and in their first 3 years of business will often change directions several times. Because of this, they have some unique business requirements:
- Limited Capital – most of these businesses are started with limited personal investment which means they need to invest their precious dollars in their business and not the infrastructure to run a business.
- Rapid Changes – in order to adapt and refine their market or business start-ups need to leverage the latest technologies without being locked-in to any technology.
- Rapid Growth – is the goal of most start-ups but their growth is unpredictable. Start-ups need the ability to ramp-up and ramp-down quickly.
- The Fewer Vendors the Better – juggling multiple vendor relationships is time consuming so the fewer vendors providing bundled services, the more time available to focus on the business.
- High Tech image is important – if a start-up wants to look ahead of their competition the latest technology helps them look the part. Tablets and Macs will impress a start-up’s customers more then legal pads and Dell laptops.
Why use DaaS for as a Start-up
Start-ups can benefit in many ways by starting their business in the Cloud using DaaS including:
- No upfront investment for infrastructure – DaaS is an OpEx solution with a pay as you go for what you need model, eliminating sunken capital in servers, hardware, and technical staff.
- Flexibility – to grow as you need more users, with the ability to add and change applications that are hosted as SaaS without long-term lock-ins to specific technologies.
- DaaS is a managed solution – which includes a Windows desktops, basic desktop applications including Microsoft Office, shared and secured file access, hosted Exchange for collaboration, and back-ups managed by professionals. A bundled one vendor approach.
- Any Device Anytime – gives a start-up the ability to use the latest mobile devices while also providing access to the same applications and data from their PC or Mac. Use multiple devices based on your location or preference.
Examples of Start-ups using DaaS
At ICC Global Hosting we have seen numerous examples of start-ups utilizing our DaaS services in industries such as staffing, music distribution, travel agencies, and financial planning. These small businesses have the same unique needs of all start-ups and ICC’s hosted virtual desktops have given these start-ups a bundled solution of services, without any up-front capital investment, and all of the flexibility they need to grow their business. Please feel free to contact us at www.iccglobalhosting.com for more information and good luck with your new business.
Desktop Computers are vanishing like the Horse and Buggy. It’s now all about the App and Mobile Devices
Desktop PCs less popular than ever
There are some interesting statistics and graphs in yesterday’s USA TODAY article “Desktop PCs less popular than ever”. The numbers are truly staggering and it’s no wonder Michael Dell is trying to take Dell private before the whole PC market evaporates and Dell stock goes to zero. If you don’t believe that, take a stroll through your local electronics or computer store. I recently walked through the computer area of a local Best Buy and literally found 6 desktop computers on display and 3 of those were low profile devices. The remainder of the computer section was filled with laptops, Ultrabooks, and some Windows 8 all-in-one PCs. Of course the “cool” section was Apple and in-between were the Chromebooks.
Hobbyists and Gamers – the first and last desktops
When the personal PC market started the first owners of the boxed-up circuit boards called a computer were owned by hobbyists and gamers which may be attested to in the early chapters of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. In my next stop on my computer shopping trip I went to Frys to see what they had and found the same 6 or so desktops along their big selection of giant Alienware desktops, the dream of any hardcore gamer. Mostly laptops, Ultrabooks, and tablets were in the rest of the computer department.
Where did all the computers go?
We are all more dependent on computers and applications than ever, but so long desktop PC. It’s now all about the App and Mobile devices. Yes, there are still desktop PCs and laptops in the office, particularly where the network and security administrators are still in BYOD denial, but where do you access most of your Apps? My laptop has been sitting on my desk for the past 2 years and when I leave the office or travel, it’s my trusty iPad in hand. No wonder tablet sales are skyrocketing which PC sales are plummeting.
It’s all about the App
Once again, it’s all about the App! And that’s where hosted virtual desktops and hosted virtual applications become so important. We all still depend on those common desktop applications with spreadsheets, documents, and presentations. Every prospective client I talk to have a handful or more core business applications which tend to be client server based applications and key to their business. They all want and need the common desktop apps, their core business apps, and want to use them from any device with a consistent look and feel. This presents a perfect use case for a virtual desktop or published application and a great opportunity to leverage the Cloud and use a hosted virtual desktop or hosted virtual application.
Your Cloud Mobility strategy
The change in desktop computing is occurring faster than anyone predicted and all IT leaders will need to have a Cloud Mobility strategy to define how they will securely provide application access to multiple devices per user, various mobile devices, and BYOD devices. The days are gone for building an IT perimeter around a network, and old thinking with old technology will not compete in the near future. IT leaders will need to define the process to access applications inside and outside of their network and stop trying to manage devices while focusing on managing their applications and data.
Some interesting data from the VMware SMB Blog
To give credit to the source of this data, this was published in the VMware SMB Blog on October 18, 2012.
Small to mid-sized organizations want desktop virtualization
Their survey found, “over 60% of small to mid-sized businesses with up to a 1000 employees were planning to roll out or evaluate VDI this year.(2012)”
The same study found that, “from these same customers that cost and complexity were two of the biggest challenges that they were facing when it came to rolling out VDI more widely to their end users.” So, another way of looking at this is the majority of these respondents would like to use desktop virtualization but thought it was too expensive and too complex.
VDI is just too complex and expensive
The study continues to find that, “ the OpEX savings can be 3-5X that of physical environments, historically the sheer cost and complexity associated with getting virtual desktop infrastructure up and running has been difficult for many IT shops to justify.”
Top challenges in managing end users
Ask any IT manager and they will all agree managing end users is difficult and the study found the following:
The answer is Hosted Virtual Desktops
The VMware SMB Blog presents a technology bundle based solution but I would suggest a service based solution. Why not turn to the Cloud and DaaS instead of taking the complex and expensive direction of building VDI in-house.
Let’s face it, the reason VDI is so complicated and expensive for SMBs is that they don’t have the resources or volume to gain any economies of scale. This is a perfect example of using Cloud computing to provide an on-demand and scaleable solution. Let’s go back and consider how hosted virtual desktops, aka DaaS, could address IT’s biggest challenges as identified in the survey.
- Maintaining security and compliance – DaaS providers host virtual desktops from secure, audited, data centers which in most cases far exceeds what a SMB has for their own. ICC Global Hosting’s hosting center has been SSAE-16 certified as are many other providers. How many SMBs data centers can meet these standards?
- Lack of people/resources to do everything that is being asked – All organizations have some limit to their resources and this is particularly difficult for a SMB. Utilizing hosted virtual desktops eliminates building or maintaining desktop virtualization competency in-house and engages the DaaS provider’s experts who do this everyday.
- Finding enough budget to refresh hardware and end point devices – Hosted virtual desktops can use essentially any end point device. In most cases DaaS customers use their existing end point so no new budget is required for end points. Also, the SMB only needs to pay for as many hosted virtual desktops as they need and can add them incrementally for a simple budgetable amount avoiding any upgrade or growth budget “surprises” which are common to in-house VDI deployments.
- Application/OS patching and updates – A hosted virtual desktop provider may provide patches and updates. Patches and updates are included as part of the service at ICC Global Hosting with patches and updates first tested and then installed during a maintenance window which eliminates untested patches and updates from being applied automatically or by a well intentioned end user.
- Supporting a wide range of devices – Hosted virtual desktops are supported for virtually any end point device and since the access is generally over the Internet remote access is built-in without any additional VPN devices or bandwidth to the SMB’s office. This gives the SMB and their end users the flexibility of access to their desktops anywhere and from any device.
- Managing users across remote locations – Hosted virtual desktops provide a centralized computing platform so data can all be stored in the provider’s Cloud storage and accessed by the end users from anywhere. Remote offices, teleworkers, BYOD, contract employees, and mobile users are all supported as part of the service.
A great study but with a different conclusion
OK, so you are reading the Hosted Virtual Desktops Blog and surprisingly I have come to the conclusion that hosted virtual desktops are the right answer.
As with all things, there is not one solution that is right for everyone. However, I hope you will consider the findings of this study and my comments in considering a Cloud approach to desktop virtualization.
Windows 8 was released last Friday, October 27, 2012.
If you missed the release of Windows 8, don’t worry it will be around for some time. Of course there were no reports on the news of people waiting in line to buy their new PC with Windows 8. No frenzy or massive media coverage. Not quite the fanfare of the latest Apple device.
According to Gartner, ”there are no compelling business imperatives to drive legacy devices in business toward Windows 8,” says Gartner Senior Vice President of Research Peter Sondergaard. Large Enterprise deployments aren’t expected until 2014.
Read more: No widespread deployment of Windows 8 by enterprises until 2014, says Gartner – FierceCIO:TechWatch http://www.fiercecio.com/techwatch/story/no-widespread-deployment-windows-8-enterprises-until-2014-says-gartner/2012-10-26#ixzz2AhwrG0Py
The fact is that most large Enterprises are still running XP, few if any used Vista, and now the question is whether or not to skip Windows 7 in favor of just going Windows 8.
The Operating System just doesn’t matter anymore
With the growth of client server and web based applications upgrades to the operating system just don’t matter and with Desktop Virtualization and Application Virtualization neither the end point device or operating system matter. It’s now kind of like the OS on your smartphone; it gives you the core functionality to run the device but to the end users all that matters are the Apps. That’s kind of ugly if you’re Microsoft having spent billions of dollars developing Windows 8 and makes Google look a bit ahead of the game for offering a Free OS with Android.
Hosted Virtual Desktops, BYOD, the Cloud, and your new Windows 8 PC
So as you order your new PC with Windows 8 pre-loaded, don’t worry you can still access your core work applications with your hosted virtual desktop. You’ll still be able to telecommute and take advantage of BYOD with you employer’s BYOD program. Compatibility won’t be an issue. As Windows 8 integrates with the new Microsoft Surface and Microsoft based smartphone you’ll just have more end point device choices for your Virtual Desktop and Virtualized Applications. All good things and all supporting the growth and reliance on the Cloud.
So where’s the excitement
Sure your new laptop will most likely come with Windows 8 but the OS just isn’t that exciting any more. As long as you can get to your e-mail, browser of choice, and a few key applications that’s about 99% of what matters. The real excitement is the overall trend in computing to allow access to these applications anywhere and from any device.
A recent survey conducted by Citrix, and published by Network World concluded that:
One in three Americans surveyed said they believe “the Cloud” is related to the weather, the top response given when asked to define the term.
Only 16% responded correctly that the cloud is a computer network used to store, access and share data from an Internet-connected device.
So, the flip-side of the first response is that two-thirds of Americans recognize the Cloud as something to do with computing, applications, or just some technology thing. That’s really not too bad.
For the 16% that had a clear understanding of what the Cloud is, that’s pretty good too considering in most organizations the largest percentage of users are consumers of technology and not the managers or purchasers of technology.
Hosted Virtual Desktops are of course delivered via the Cloud whether the end user knows that or not. In the end most end users just want to do their jobs and don’t care where their applications or desktops run, they just need it to work and don’t care if it’s called DaaS, Hosted, Virtual, Published, Cloud, or anything else.
At ICC Global Hosting, we were recently working with a client to put together a marketing document to help our client sell to their franchisees, an upgrade to replace aging PCs with our hosted virtual desktops. Since our client’s franchisees are not typically very technical by nature, “technology consumers”, the benefits of the upgrade were the most important factors to sell the franchisees. However, Cloud delivery was the most important factor to our client, a “technology manager”.
Sure, “the Cloud” is a technology buzzword for many but a very real requirement for the technology managers and purchasers who rely on the Cloud as a delivery platform.
References – this survey was conducted by Citrix and published by Network World on August 29th, 2012 by Brandon Butler, at http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/082912-weather-cloud-262040.html.
Georgia Telework Week: August 20-24, 2012
Details of Georgia Telework Week quoted from The Clean Air Campaign http://www.cleanaircampaign.org/Your-Workplace/Telework-Compressed-Work-Week-and-Flextime-Consulting/Telework-Week-2012
August 20-24 marks the third annual Georgia Telework Week. There are more than 600,000 teleworkers in metro Atlanta and even more across Georgia. Employers and commuters alike can make a big difference in the region by supporting teleworking – at least another 245,000 more commuters could telework if their employers established a program.
Consider some of these facts:
- Georgia is among the most wired areas in the nation, giving us a competitive advantage for telework over other major metropolitan areas. Due to our changing workforce and technology, more jobs today can be accomplished remotely.
- Atlanta has some of the worst commutes in the country, with lost productivity of more than $2.5B annually due to traffic. In contrast, studies show that employees who telework can be as much as 20% more productive than their office-based counterparts.
- In many areas across Georgia, more than half of all smog-forming emissions come from the tailpipes of cars. Teleworking is a highly cost-effective pollution strategy, as each mile not driven to the office represents another pound of pollution not emitted into our air.
Enabling Teleworking in Georgia and Everywhere Else
Many employers and many employees would like to embrace teleworking but these employees are tied to their office computers and do not have sufficient capabilities to perform their job remotely on a full or part-time basis. Sure, these employers would like to participate in the Green commitment to their community but cannot justify buying new laptops and remote access technology for these workers. The answer may be in the Cloud and with a popular concept known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
BYOD for Teleworking
First, let’s define BYOD and as with most technology descriptions, there are those who debate the details, but let’s start here.
BYOD programs allow employees to select their own computing device or bring their own computer to work while accessing their employer’s supported desktop environment, applications, and data.
Some BYOD programs are designed to allow the employee to select and purchase the device of their choice with a stipend from the employer, but the vast majority of these programs really address allowing their employees to access their desktop resources from their iPad or home PC/Mac. In either case, BYOD is an excellent method to allow and secure access to the employer’s network and the employees needed programs and data.
Hosted BYOD for Teleworkers
With Hosted BYOD an employee can gain access to a virtual desktop that connects to their employer’s network and their required applications and data while securely keeping the employer’s valuable data on their network. Unlike issuing employees with laptops, the data is only allowed to be saved on the employer’s network securing data and accessing the network with an encrypted connection. Hosted BYOD enables the employee to use virtually any device including their home PC, Mac, iPad, or Android tablet.
Hosted BYOD is based on virtualization technology and sometime called VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) or DaaS (Desktops as a Service). The key to an employer wanting to offer BYOD for teleworkers is that Hosted BYOD is provided in the Cloud and is a simple, scalable, and rapidly deployed approach without any capital expenditure. As a Cloud service, Hosted BYOD is an operations expense with a monthly cost and no new on-site infrastructure expense. Sure, lots of organizations are considering building BYOD internally but with huge capital costs to be incurred with Mobile Device Management (MDM) products and costly infrastructure. (I have previously written about, BYOD a simpler approach than MDM to accessing your applications with iPads and tablets.) To learn more about ICC Global Hosting’s Hosted BYOD, please check our website at http://www.iccglobalhosting.com/BYO.shtml.
The Clean Air Campaign
ICC applauds The Clean Air Campaign and supports the Telework Summit on August, 22nd. To learn more about The Clean Air Campaign and how to get started with your Telework program, visit their website at http://www.cleanaircampaign.org/.
Why 4G LTE Matters
If you haven’t tried a true 4G network yet you’re in for a surprise similar to when you went from a dial-up to broadband Internet connection. Without getting into the fine details of cellular networks, let’s just say 4G is really really fast and a game changer to mobile users. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was getting 18 Mb/s download speed on my iPad sitting in the Moscone Center from Verizon and my co-worker was getting a similar speed on his Android phone with his AT&T connection. Our LTE connections sure beat the speed of the over used wireless provided at the event. No, this wasn’t just a localized fluke of bandwidth. I get the same results sitting at home in Atlanta and saw it traveling to Boston. Again, 4G LTE is really really fast.
Great News for Hosted Virtual Desktops
Consistent end user experience is the true determining factor for a hosted virtual desktop. Apps supported, ease of printer and peripheral use, and centralized support all don’t matter if the end user doesn’t have a great end user experience. 4G LTE provides the connectivity for that kind of consistent great end user experience and as the 4G LTE networks continue to expand their service and service areas, it all just gets better. Now our customers using their tablets or mobile devices can get the same experience they expect in their office without having to find a local free wireless hotspot. 4G LTE can liberate mobile users and untie them from the Starbucks and Panera networks. Oh, and the 4G LTE connection is much faster than the throttled down Starbucks and Panera free Wi-Fi connections.
Impact of 4G LTE on BYOD
As I’ve written before, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been a big driver for hosted virtual desktop usage and with the increased connectivity performance end users can gain even more benefit from BYOD. BYOD gives users true Cloud Mobility and nothing has driven this more than the iPad and other mobile devices. As smartphones all move to 4G LTE data connections BYOD will become truly ubiquitous and just a commonly expected service from an IT department.
Free Wi-Fi a thing of the past?
With the proliferation of 4G LTE slower oversubscribed free Wi-Fi Hotspots could go by the wayside as most mobile users have their own faster connection in their pocket and the free Wi-Fi amenity provided by countless hotels, restaurants, and even retailers like Home Depot become outdated.
Hosted Desktops in some cases replaced by Hosted Apps
For many mobile users access to specific applications is more important than access to a complete hosted virtual desktop. With 4G LTE connections a mobile user can have the choice of a full hosted virtual desktop or hosted application without compromising on the quality of service. At ICC Global Hosting we have successfully provided our clients with access to their mobile desktop or applications and with 4G LTE it’s just like their access from their local area network.
Coming Soon to your Mobile Devices
If you haven’t made the move to 4G LTE yet, give it a try. You’ll be surprised at the speed and the performance of a Hosted Virtual Desktop or Hosted Application on 4G LTE and the flexibility of truly anytime anywhere access to your applications and data.
Selecting a Desktop as a Service Provider and what to look for in a provider.
Your selection criteria will vary based on your particular business and use
case but there are several common factors that anyone should consider in selecting a DaaS provider. From my experience in selling DaaS and hearing my customers’ questions I would recommend the following.
1. DaaS Service Provider Focus
This may sound a bit obvious but with the growing popularity of DaaS there are lots of new “providers” jumping into the market. Some of these new providers are just getting their feet wet and you could find yourself as their guinea pig client. We have seen several IT consultants adding DaaS as a side offering most likely one that one of their clients pushed them into. If it’s not their primary focus the support is not their top priority and the huge investment required to provide DaaS isn’t there for your growth or on-going performance.
We’ve also seen a growth in wholesaling DaaS to IT Resellers from so called “White Labelers”. These white labelers allow resellers to sell their DaaS service but call it their own and when you call your reseller for support they have to in turn call the white labeler for the actual support, thus potentially doubling the response time and confusion in resolving issues. Working directly with the DaaS provider will enhance your support and in most cases save you money.
2. High Quality End User Experience and the Right Technology
This may seem pretty obvious but there are some different technologies being deployed to provide DaaS. In the end, your DaaS deployment will be measured as a success or failure by the end user experience and most of that comes down to the performance or speed of applications and streaming media. Older technologies using terminal services or RDP just will not measure up for users used to a PC experience and your DaaS users will expect to be able to access their desktop from home or on Macs, and always on iPads. If a DaaS provider cannot support streaming media and all kinds of devices, particularly iPads, run – don’t walk.
The right technology matters too and you don’t have to be an expert to know what is right. A credible DaaS provider should be using the latest in storage technologies, servers, and software and including things such as back-up, some form of high availability, and all of the core desktop applications including anti-virus. Just ask what versions they use, what is the latest version avialable, and what’s their policy on upgrading and keeping current. If you’re considering DaaS you don’t want to have to know all about the technologies; you just want to be sure your provider is on top of it.
3. Scalability and Flexibility
DaaS is a Cloud service and should be a scalable, extensible, and on-demand service. You should be able to add new users quickly and without prolonged set-up time or cost. A DaaS provider should always maintain excess capacity to accommodate customer growth or new customers on-boarding. If a DaaS provider has to ramp-up so you can ramp-up that’s a problem.
One size fits all is not a good solution for DaaS. Sure there need to be controls and even most users should be locked down for security and to prevent use of unwanted or unlicensed software, but your DaaS provider should be able to support any application you can run on your PC now. Your DaaS provider should also be able to lock down your hosted virtual desktops as tightly as you want and even provide different levels of lock-down for different groups of users. You will also have your Power Users to support and your DaaS provider should be able to support a power user with additional capabilities.
From a Customer’s Perspective
In a recent Network World article reviewing DaaS providers, one of ICC Global Hosting’s ISV customers was kind enough to comment with his viewpoint of how to select a DaaS provider and his thought process in selecting ICC. The italicized section below is his direct quote.
As an Independent Software Vendor ISV, RedBlack Software has made its applications available via DaaS for over 2 years now. After spending a great deal of time to find the right DaaS partner we came upon ICC Global Hosting. ICCGH was recommended to us by one of the competitors in this review because they couldn’t provide the level of focus and support we demanded.
Some factors for ISVs to consider:
1) Does your potential DaaS partner understand your vertical enough to craft a solution that meets the needs of your clients? If they cannot or will not take the interest to listen, understand and learn – dump them.
2) Can they meet the support requirements to insure an attentive client experience when the client needs support? If they don’t demonstrate this with the first 5 clients by exceeding the call of duty every time there is an issue – dump them.
3) Do they understand the concept of support hand-off? If they finger point – dump them.
4) Can they articulate to your client prospects why they add value to your product platform? If not – dump them.
For those of you looking to partner with a DaaS provider as an end-user:
DaaS is a tool and like all tools they can either help or hurt you. The skillsaw(c) revolutionized the building industry. But many people have cut their thumbs off too. DaaS is a tool in your pouch. Use it appropriately in your overall business strategy and you can build some winning combinations that will help:
1) Improve your DR strategy
2) Increase mobility for otherwise luggable hardware and software technologies
3) Help insure a reasonable secure remote access method for iPad and other tablets to enterprise applications
4) Give your business strategy a booster shot in the mobility arm
5) Builds scaling power into your enterprise
We have nothing but great things to say about ICC Global Hosting. Their staff is very knowledgeable and a joy to work with. They have been around for donkey’s years and have the stability our clients expect. Their infrastructure is second-to-none, all enterprise class servers. Many of our end-users could never afford to even think of deploying in such an environment on their own. ICC provides them with the enterprise level hardware, software and knowledge scale that large enterprises expect.
After 34 months of working experience RedBlack is and continues to be a pleased partner in all respects.
Peter Giza | VP Business Development
Consider desktops in the cloud for BYOD - Five DaaS vendors deliver Windows desktops to any end user device
Network World released their review of DaaS providers today titled “Consider desktops in the cloud for BYOD, Five DaaS vendors deliver Windows desktops to any end user device,” written by Tom Henderson of ExtremeLabs. To begin with, it was a compliment to ICC Global Hosting to be selected as one of the providers to be tested and we enjoyed working with Tom in his review. I was first approached by XtremeLabs on behalf of Network World in November and agreed to build a test environment for their review. After some interaction with Tom Henderson and my team the test environment was turned over in January and the testing began. By the way, thanks to the ICC Support team for a great job setting up the test environment and for their efforts working with XtremeLabs. I can never say enough good things about our support team.
DaaS or Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD)
The review correctly states that, “If you have an iPad3 and a Bluetooth keyboard, you’re in. Mac? You’re in. An old and wheezing Windows XP patched-to-death machine? You’re in. The machine used to access a DaaS session is largely irrelevant to the session’s use.” This accessibility to a hosted virtual desktop from any machine is one the key benefits our customers enjoy everyday and applies to a variety of use cases including the mentioned BYOD scenarios but is more commonly the answer for desktop replacements, management of remote offices/employees, and Cloud Mobility
The ICC Pros
In the review, Network World lists the Pros to ICC Global Hosting as “very fast, easy local resource control.” We are very proud of these comments since we go to great lengths to provide a very fast network and great end user experience. In fact, this is a top priority. We offer our clients and prospects a speed test from our hosting center to specifically show them the kind of response time to expect from their office or home network eliminating any latency guess work or uncertainty. We were also glad to hear that we had easy local resource control since we believe a key part great end user experience is the ability to print without complications and to have access to things such as dual monitors, USB drives, and other peripherals that end users commonly need.
The ICC Cons
“Plain vanilla experience,” may have actually been a “Pro” and not a “Con” since we were asked to provide a basic uncustomized desktop experience for this test, so the standard on-boarding experience could be observed. All of our customers start out with plain vanilla and we add the hot fudge, bananas, whipped cream, nuts, and the cherry to give them the exact solution they need. Starting out with the core Windows 7 desktop experience and layering hosted and installed apps is our normal proven process.
We knew other service providers were also being tested but none of us knew who the other tested providers were until today. That seems fair for an unbiased test and I have to say that we were in very good company. As with any service, competition makes us all better, and I am confident ICC Global Hosting can compete toe to toe with any of these providers.
Again, we were in very good company in this test and below are ExtremeLab’s test findings. I do not know the detailed test criteria (I did ask) nor is the test criteria printed as part of the review but let’s agree the scores are pretty close and everyone has their own “secret sauce” that makes them special.So, did I want a 5 out of 5 score? Of course I did. But, what I can promise is that ICC provides an excellent service, at a very competitive price, and we are committed to providing great end user experience for our customers. ICC’s Citrix XenApp based service delivers hosted virtual desktops and hosted virtual applications to our satisfied customers everyday.
Reversal in Technology Leadership from the Enterprise Market
Traditionally large Enterprise organizations lead the way with new technologies and drove innovation. But due to the current technological renaissance, SMBs (small & medium businesses) are adapting to the changes quicker, embracing the benefits, and now driving technical innovation which was once the Enterprise’s domain.
Patrick Gray writes in his recent article, “The SMB technology renaissance” for the TechRepublic, “Not since the advent of the (relatively) low-cost personal computer that first allowed smaller businesses access to computing capability have we seen technologies that were once the domain of Fortune 500 behemoths become available to smaller companies. Not only are the technologies available, frankly smaller companies are better poised to leverage many of them than their larger brethren.” Gray attributes this change in leadership to the Cloud and Mobility. I believe SMBs are leading in Cloud, Mobility, and the combination of the two – “Cloud Mobility”.
Technology Agility in the Cloud is Lead by SMBs
By definition “Business Agility” is the ability of a business to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. Defining the Cloud is not as easy but let’s assume that the Cloud is on-demand, flexible, computing resources. These Cloud resources come in lots of variations from Software as a Service (SaaS) with applications such as Salesforce.com; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with servers and infrastructure to rent from providers like SoftLayer or Amazon AWS; or fully managed desktops as Desktops as a Service (DaaS) or hosted applications from service providers such as ICC Global Hosting. Regardless of the type of Cloud service an organization wants to consider, SMBs have choices from multiple vendors that can rapidly provision Cloud applications and services. This becomes a business decision driven by a business need and not a technology purchase since in most cases these Cloud services don’t require any hardware purchases. It’s pretty simple for a SMB to buy Cloud services but for an Enterprises it gets much more difficult as they consider integration with their legacy systems and fighting the internal politics of using an outsourced Cloud technology.
Mobility isn’t Just E-mail, it’s About BYOD
Mobility is the second driver to this technological renaissance and let’s face it, mobile Apps are everywhere. Users expect access to their Apps and data from any device and anywhere and they aren’t just looking for e-mail. The BYOD craze isn’t so much about companies giving employees a choice of a company owned device, but more about giving access to corporate assets to an employee owned device whether it’s their home computer or more likely their iPad, tablet, or smart phone. Gaining access to these Apps isn’t trivial, particularly for large Enterprises with hundred of legacy applications. Again, another win for the SMBs since they typically don’t have the huge investment in company wide systems that need to be integrated and the political need to support the internal data center assets and personnel that a Cloud based solution might replace.
Why SMBs are Leading the Cloud
SMBs are leading in Cloud adaptation since they do not have the huge data center assets and staff to support and it’s a simple and quick decision to buy the latest Cloud application or service without regard to committed capital expenditures. Enterprises had an advantage in the past from having these assets, staff, and expertise in-house but now the latest applications are typically available as a Cloud service and available in a “by the drink” cost model. The Cloud adds tremendous business agility for SMBs with SMBs easily making the transition while Enterprises struggle with “turning the battleship”.
Why Enterprises are Failing with Cloud Adoption
Enterprises are failing with Cloud adoption due to the internal politics of moving IT to the Cloud, integration problems with Cloud based technologies, legacy systems that make any changes difficult or expensive, and the perceived concern about the loss of control or security in the Cloud. Again, these big systems, big corporate data centers, and big IT staffs were all Enterprise IT advantages of the past but in this time of rapid change the Enterprise can’t keep up. Some of these Enterprises are creating Cloud Strategies with their old world mentality of buying more technology, like virtualization, and building out their own private Clouds that they own and manage on their own networks. But let’s face it, many of these faux private Clouds are just business as usual in a new rack.
SMBs Winning in the Cloud with Cloud Mobility
Cloud Mobility, the combination of Cloud computing technologies and access from Mobile devices, is the biggest computing win today and the SMBs are “killing it”. SMB’s have widely embraced these technologies. Just look at the high adoption rate of core applications like e-mail, CRM, and accounting. It’s pretty rare for us to run into a SMB that hosts their e-mail. Why would they? This is also rapidly becoming the case of more and more of their other business Apps for things like order entry/tracking, medical practice management, document management, financial portfolio management, and many more.
At ICC Global Hosting we are helping SMBs host their Apps in the Cloud and even the independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to provide their Software as a Service (SaaS) as a hosted application. It’s really all about the App and SMBs have found the solution is delivered by Cloud Mobility. Hosted virtual desktops, hosted applications, or even just hosted Microsoft Office applications are simple ways SMBs are winning the Cloud with Cloud Mobility.
Monday’s Announcement - Dell Buys Wyse
In case you haven’t heard, Dell announced on Monday that they are acquiring Wyse. Wyse has long been the market leader in thin clients and from my personal experience, Wyse is an excellent company with great products, and Dell is lucky to make this deal. More details of the announcement:
- Dell Buys Wyse to Continue Evolution to ‘Not Really a PC Company’ - PCWorld
- Dell Buys Wyse Technology To Expand Cloud Offerings - InformationWeek
- Dell Is Buying Its Way Into The ‘Post PC’ Era - Business Insider
Virtually all the articles are very positive about this move by Dell and position this as a great move to the Cloud and an acknowledgement of the death of the PC.
Thin Clients are the Ideal Device for a Virtual Desktop
Virtual Desktops still require an endpoint device whether it’s a thin client, re-purposed desktop, Mac, or mobile device. Thus, the core benefit of access to your desktop from anywhere from any device. However, the thin client has some unique benefits over all of these other devices since the thin client gives the end user their full keyboard, monitor(s), and access to all of their peripherals but in a very compact, energy saving device with little or no endpoint configuration or settings. At ICC Global Hosting we like to refer to using a thin client as a way to reduce or eliminate the “desk side” support since there’s really no configuration the end user should or needs to deal with. Every time we’ve shown prospects the thin client with one of our virtual desktops they love them and go nuts when they see the full desktop go from powered off to live in 10 seconds or less. Can’t do that with their current PCs.
What Wyse Brings to Dell
Wyse’s contribution to this deal are pretty obvious; a great product line, top market share, valuable patents, and a generally well run organization with great people.
How Dell Enhances Wyse
Dell’s contribution to this deal, other than cash for the Wyse stakeholders, are a bit more subtle. First, Dell has a huge distribution, specialists in almost every vertical market, and clients everywhere which will give any company large or small a comfort of knowing Dell is behind the product. Second, Dell has mastered production and squeezes every penny of cost out of the process thus offering very low cost hardware. One of the most common problems we have in positioning Wyse into new accounts is the buyer’s perception that they are getting less than a PC at about the same cost. We of course argue they are getting more through a better ROI, longer life cycle, and power savings but people in the end still think these things should be less expensive. Third, Dell has very deep pockets to invest in the advancement in Wyse’s technology. Wyse has been very successful in development of their products but more R&D money at a time when virtual desktops are taking off could be very timely.
The Devil’s in the Details
Yep, all this sounds good but Dell will need to effectively merge the companies together while taking steps forward in the market place. That’s not an easy task for a large company. Don’t forget, HP acquired Neoware in 2007 and today there’s almost no sign of Neoware’s technology. I suspect this will be very different with Dell and Wyse since Dell has only been OEMing a competing thin client compared to HP having a directly competitive product with Neoware.
Great News for Virtual Desktops
This is great news for desktop virtualization, hosted virtual desktops, DaaS, and Cloud computing in general. Dell has now acknowledged that thin clients are the next wave of end user computing and there’s no better combination than the thin client with a virtual desktop. Not everyone can effectively use an iPad, tablet or ultrabook and for those Enterprise task users or SMB organizations which make up a huge percentage end users, this is going to be great. Dell has also made other recent announcements concerning DaaS and SMB security with the acquisition of SonicWall. This is also great news for hosted virtual desktops because as more of these virtual desktop technologies are deployed it increases the whole market raising opportunities for everyone in the industry.
The OnLive Controversy
For those of us in the hosting business there’s been quite a dust storm kicked-up by the gaming site OnLive regarding their hosted desktop offering which appears to be a blatant Microsoft licensing violation. At the center of the controversy are the way Microsoft licenses desktop OS’s and how hosting providers can host Microsoft Office. There have been lots of articles written about this so I won’t rehash the facts. If you want to read about the details, I’d recommend reading an article by Gabe Knuth titled “Gasp! Turns out OnLive really isn’t in compliance with Microsoft licensing!” Gabe explains it quite well.
I don’t think anyone will be camping out in Redmond or anything quite so severe but there is a growing movement of service providers considering offering similar hosted desktop services in violation of Microsoft’s licensing on the premise that if Microsoft isn’t going to force OnLive to comply with the licensing agreement, and more importantly pay the subscription fees, then no one should have to comply and pay the fees. Of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the endless staff of Microsoft lawyers that are likely already silently engaged in this battle and just waiting for the order the order, ATTACK. So who really wants to take on this legal burden? Well, there are a few.
“Cloud Friendly” licensing
So the bigger issue isn’t really complying with Microsoft’s licensing agreement since after all they do have the right to enforce their licensing and we should all expect to pay something for using their software. The real issue is a Cloud Friendly pricing model for service providers that is fair for the provider and fair for the end users. The current Windows 7 licensing model requiring end user Software Assurance, separation of systems preventing multi-tenant environments, and VDA is just too complicated and too expensive for a service provider or end user to cost justify. There are tremendous benefits of desktops as a service (DaaS) but the current Microsoft licencing requirements are Cloud Un-Friendly and prohibiting the growth of DaaS.
Why this matters to all organizations and end users
Many people haven’t heard or DaaS or hosted virtual desktops. So what’s the big deal here? The big deal is the movement of end users using their applications and data anywhere from any device, and the consumerization of IT. That sounds like a lot of Marketing double speak but the reality is that we live in a “there’s an App for that” world where end users expect to just download an App somewhere and magically connect to all their stuff. The huge demand for access to all of these Apps across all platforms and on mobile devices is today and it will take years for IT to rewrite their legacy applications to meet this demand. The hosted virtual desktop or DaaS, is often the perfect solution for IT to meet this demand quickly and cost effectively. These Cloud based desktops work very well and need an OS, and need a Cloud Friendly licensing model from Microsoft.
Mounting pressure for a new licensing model
The pressure is building for a changed Microsoft licensing model and there are a few indicators that there may be change in the wind. First, there are a few of those radical hosting providers that are willing to “Occupy Microsoft” and disregard their Microsoft license agreements. This may not be the best way for them to ingratiate themselves with Microsoft but it does opportunistically create some publicity around the controversy. Buyer beware though since when the dust settles it’s not going to be good for the end user when the service they thought they were buying no longer exists. Software Assurance and VDA are currently end user license responsibilities and may end up as an unexpected bill from Microsoft to the end user. Second, Microsoft lowered its licensing costs for Office 365 this week so if they found their Cloud based licensing costs too high, it’s hard for Microsoft to charge service providers more for Office than the Office 365 prices. (More about the lower Office 365 prices at “Microsoft chops Office 365 enterprise prices by 20 percent“. Third, some of the Office applications are coming soon to the iTunes App Store. OneNote has already been released for “Free” and we’ll have to see how the other apps are priced. I previously wrote about this at “MS Office Coming Soon to the iTunes App Store?“
It’s undeniable that Cloud computing is here and growing at an incredible rate. The Cloud is changing how software vendors price and license their software. I believe we will soon see Microsoft address the licensing violations of OnLive and others but hopefully this will be more than a legal action and cause Microsoft and the hosting industry to come together with a Cloud Friendly licensing approach that’s fair for all parties.