I’m sure IT professionals, editors & analysts went “wow” when AWS announced a low price-point for WorkSpaces VDI, and when VMware more announced an (even lower) price-point for their Horizon DaaS VDI (nee, DeskTone).

Pricing is the latest “shiny object” capturing everyone’s attention: Finally, a “cheap” price for a virtual desktop! Who wouldn’t love the fact that a price bar has been set for VDI/DaaS?

But I know how marketing works  (“dangle that shiny object and you’ll get attention…”). But I also know how pragmatic marketing works, and how important real-life customer use cases factor in. And my conclusion about all of these low-price DaaS claims?

Low price does not equate to high value.

True, infrastructure costs are an important component of any hosted service. But it’s like looking at the auto chassis as the basis for the cost of the car… what you’re really valuing are the features, body, add-ons, etc.  So let’s take a look at the reality of using hosted DaaS, what the source of real value is, and you decide whether a new and incredible new bar has really been set.

Tips about Real Daas Value Sources

  1. Don’t forget about the apps.
    Recall that a bare desktop isn’t very useful unless you have applications to use with it. Whether they’re basic productivity apps, specialized business apps, groupware etc., don’t forget that you need to pay for these. And remember to include antivirus too.
  2. A bare desktop workspace may not be all you need.
    Just delivering a barebones VDI desktop is often not sufficient to create a mobile workspace. Most users in a mobile context want to bundle the mobile desktop with mobile “follow-me” data services, device management, and other services such as unified communications. So again, the desktop is just a handy “container” for use with other services.
  3. Do you even need a desktop?
    There is a very large and growing school of thought that observes the “desktop as a container” is past its usefulness. Most apps we use on our portable devices exist and are used in an “a la carte” style – devoid of a desktop metaphor.  So sometimes the VDI metaphor (and infrastructure is not even necessary or applicable.
  4. Don’t forget about the support!
    A barebones infrastructure cost is not “finished goods” and does not represent the real cost of deploying a desktop. Just because a technology provider puts a service online doesn’t mean it’s supported… and I mean end-user support.
  5. The need for “Last Mile” customization/verticalization
    As above, barebones infrastructure is typically not of use by the average enterprise.  It needs to be modified to fit security or compliance needs. It needs special line-0f-business apps. Those apps may require integration w/other enterprise apps. There may be needs for device integration (think: Medical facilities). All-told, a basic desktop infrastructure cost won’t account for these additional needs.  Needs only an industry-specific Service Provider, System Integrator or other channel partner often provides.
  6. Provide an awesome user device experience!
    Lastly, don’t assume that basic VDI has the ability to provide an awesome user experience regardless of device, size, keyboard vs. touchscreen, network bandwidth/latency, graphics/video type, etc. Don’t assume that every virtual solution will work well with local peripherals.

Some sober words for Cheap VDI:

Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely cases when work styles do in fact warrant use of basic low-cost VDI desktops. Think seasonal employees, test and development, etc.. And  IT (or a service provider) simply has to be willing to administer to them.

And, if you’re a DaaS provider…

…Which reminds me: Let’s say you’re a provider trying to choose what horse to bet on. To you I say: Unless you want to compete in a commodity market, focus on the value and differentiation you provide as part of your desktop offer.  And also take into account

  • Does your technology vendor enable you a choice of public clouds to leverage in addition to your own infrastructure?
  • Can your tech provider allow you to use any major virtualization platforms?
  • Do you have flexibility in multi-tenancy models? Can you vary isolation vs. density vs. performance?
  • Do you have a choice of services beyond desktops to meet any customer use case? Device management? Follow-me data?

All food-for-thought when you find yourself only gazing at a price tag.

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