Valovic on Virtualization

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Desktone Peels Back the Covers on Its DaaS Launch

Google "DaaS" and the first listing you'll get is "Doug Anthony All Stars" in wikipedia. In case you think you're momentarily blanking out, don't worry: it's an Australian musical comedy group. Then a little further down the page you can spot the "Tangawarra DAAS protection society". And please don't ask me what that is because I'm clueless. The DaaS I'm talking about is "desktop as a service".

There are many types of virtualization out there. It can apply to hardware, OS, network, I/O, storage, desktop and individual applications. Often when the term is used these days, the first thing many people think of is server virtualization and consolidation. While this is the low-hanging fruit for IT shops that have already made the leap, an important longer-term trend is desktop virtualization.

Desktop virtualization, which means delivering a desktop environment, including the OS and apps, from a server, has some good momentum. It's still early days of course but Gartner just came out with a report projecting that PC virtualization will ramp up from less than 5 million last year to 660 million by 2011. On the supply side, the industry took notice a few months ago when VMware acquired Thinstall and Foedus assets to strengthen their position in desktop.

Application virtualization focuses on specific siloed apps. But with desktop virtualization, full desktop capability can run off a centralized server using either thin clients or PCs. The benefits center on manageability, security, and cost savings. But hold that thought for a minute and then take the notion of desktop virtualization off prem by using a service provider such as IBM or AT&T and things get interesting really fast. This is Desktop-As-A-Service or DaaS.

An intriguing startup called Desktone is playing in this space and just launched its DVI product called the Virtual-D Platform. Editor Keith Ward, Peter Varhol and I recently spoke with Desktone CEO Harry Ruda. These guys have management chops. Previously, Ruda was CEO of Softricity which, you may recall, was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. And COO Paul Gaffney was the CIO of Staples. Citrix has an investment stake along with Softbank Capital. Merrill Lynch is a customer and both Verizon and IBM are strategic partners.

Desktone claims to be the only company that has a complete DaaS solution. The company argues that subscription is the way to go because of cost and complexity, pointing out that service providers already have the infrastructure to deliver DaaS. With the hosted model, they believe that desktop TCO can be reduced by $300-$800 per desktop per year. Keep an eye on these guys, look for an interesting potential tie-in with unified communications (especially if a Verizon or an AT&T is involved), and check out an upcoming profile we'll be doing in the next issue. Comments always welcome.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 04/21/2008 at 12:49 PM


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