By now you may have heard of a new entrant into the Desktop-as-a-Service market, with VMware buying Desktone.  While I applaud the move that will help mature the market, I have to add some sobriety to their party atmosphere. Technology alone does not sell product – especially where the Managed Service Provider (MSP) channel is involved.

Putting it Bluntly – Support the Business!

VMware is hyping Desktone’s first-mover status (they weren’t – Citrix was there 3 years earlier), their unique technology (it’s not… just look at offers like TuCloud), and their partner base (only 40 at the moment).

To that last point, soundbites would have MSPs believe that VMware’s thousands of partners will instantly be able to stand-up and sell DaaS.  Our experience shows that vendors also have to provide the MSP with business assistance – planning, market guidance, sales training, support pointers  – if the offer is to succeed in the market.  The build-it-and-they-will-come mentality doesn’t work.

I question what VMware can accomplish regarding recruiting MSPs – and want to reinforce the business services that Citrix’s Service Provider Program (CSP) has been providing MSPs for years.

What it Really Takes to Succeed at DaaS

Scaling MSP partners from 40 to thousands is not trivial – and will take VMware considerable time. I’m guessing the 41st partner won’t want to be the guinea pig.

The following shameless promotion is what we’ve built for our CSP program. It’s an illustration of  what we’ve developed for MSPs’ business needs… and how we’ve helped accelerate thousands of MSPs into the DaaS space. Remember, providing a hosted DaaS service isn’t the same are providing a hosted Exchange server. While DaaS higher-value (by 1-2 orders of magnitude!) it’s a considerable shift in the business of marketing, selling, supporting. Not to mention a shift in the buyer/user.

The Business Framework we’ve built for MSPs takes into account the fact that most MSPs have existing business models that differ considerably from hosting DaaS services. They need to examine nearly all aspects of their business if they are to succeed. So Citrix provides

  • Business Planning and product strategy: Helping assess market potential, determine service portfolios & service definition, consider strategic partners (with whom to bundle services, etc.) and the overall business/selling/pricing model. None of these are trivial.  Even the initial service definition exercise is critical to playing-into the MSPs core competencies and customer base (See my Differentiate or Die post for more about building high-value differentiated services)
  • Technology and product foundations: More than just infrastructure – it includes support models, implementation partners, billing, tracking and onboarding automation. Consider the support issues alone: you may be accustomed to supporting your clients’ IT department with technical issues. But what happens when an end-user has a desktop issue? What happens when a new end-user needs on-boarding? These are indeed new revenue opportunities (they add value) but also new competencies you need to acquire.
  • Sales, marketing & operations: Including marketing planning, sales training, sales ops/compensation, go-to-market and demand generation approaches. Selling DaaS differs from selling a dedicated server… You’re often selling to the Line-of-Business manager in an SMB as often as you’re selling to IT. And you’re not just selling cost savings, but selling new capabilities such as BYOD, mobility, data security, etc. – often new sales training for your existing sales force.
  • The Service Delivery Experience:  Essentially the customer experience that includes discovery, trials, purchasing, on boarding, support models etc.  Putting technology in place is not sufficient; you need to on-board applications and users. There is a learning curve involved in using the new app/desktop model. All of these activities need to be considered.

Parting Thoughts, Take-Aways

If you’re an MSP looking to get into selling DaaS – you’re about to make a good move. But do so with as much information in-hand as you can. Be informed about the business changes you’ll need to make, and who’s best experienced to help you make them.

  • Be wary of vendors that require the use of their virtualization platform
  • Be cautious of vendors who have a spotty record channel conflict with MSPs
  • Have a bias toward vendors offering significant channel-building business resources
  • Ensure you examine the business as much as you do the technology

For more Information