Hot on Amazon’s heels, VMware expands cloud platform with desktop-as-a-service offering

hybrid-cloudThe cloud ecosystem is heading into a new phase of growth as the industry shifts its focus away from the lower layers of the stack to higher, value-added functionality. This turning point represents both an opportunity and a challenge for incumbent vendors such as VMware, which must find a way to match the pace of market leader Amazon or risk being left in the dust.

Bill Fathers, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Services at VMware, told SiliconANGLE last year that his company is trying to differentiate with its vCloud Hybrid Service. The platform, which recently launched in Europe, has the advantage of being fully interoperable with on-premise VMware environments.

Bill Fathers

VMware’s Bill Fathers

“Every enterprise client we speak to is already starting to experiment with public cloud, [and] they’ve always invested heavily with VMware to build private clouds, so the reality is clients are going to be living in a hybrid cloud environment,” Fathers said. “They want to get the best of both worlds,” he continued, “and we’re very focused on making sure they can now get the best of both worlds by having a public cloud solution that is entirely compatible with their private clouds.”

Seamless hybrid computing presents a compelling value proposition to enterprise CIOs, but the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, and VMware has a lot of catching up to do on the PaaS side of the equation. Undeterred by the enormity of the challenge, the vendor is pressing ahead and putting the puzzle together one piece at a time, starting off with desktop virtualization. .

.

Introducing VMware Horizon DaaS

.

The company today introduced VMware Horizon DaaS, a hosted Windows VDI solution that is available to customers now. VMware Horizon DaaS runs on vCloud Hybrid Service and enables IT to make business applications available to users beyond the four walls of their organizations. The launch follows the announcement of Amazon’s WorkSpaces service (which is not yet publicly available but is in Limited Preview). The launch of VMware Horizon DaaS also comes less than six months after VMware’s acquisition of Desktone, a Chelmsford, MA-based provider of desktop-as-a-service solutions that was regarded as a pioneer in the field.

path to the cloudWhat sets VMware Horizon DaaS apart from Amazon WorkSpaces is that it’s integrated with View, which means that admins can manage their on- and off-premise deployments from a single pane of glass. That’s a major benefit for large VMware shops, but may not be enough to win over smaller firms that don’t have to worry as much about sustaining existing VDI investments. VMware is leaving it to the channel to bridge the gaps, encouraging partners to bundle the offering with other value-added services in order to provide an alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach of Amazon Web Services.

“The world of end-user computing is changing dramatically,” Dave Grant, Senior Director of Product Marketing for DaaS, End-User Computing, at VMware, told siliconANGLE. “I think the latest stats are that over 50 percent of us are using three different devices to access stuff to do our job every day. There’s…this shift away from Windows applications to cloud applications, from physical devices to mobile devices. [While] that’s all been happening…the cloud option has been blowing through the roof.”

VMware's Dave Grant

VMware’s Dave Grant

“VMware has been leading at both ends,” Grant continued. “We’ve…been in the end-user computing business with our virtual desktop…and…then we acquired AirWatch…[so]…we’ve made a lot of investments around helping people with their end-user computing strategy. And then, on the other side, the company has also been investing in the hybrid cloud…[with]…the VMware vCloud Hybrid Service that we deliver, the Infrastructure-as-a-Service or Public Cloud.

 

“And so, what we’re announcing,” Grant said, “is the combination of both: a hosted, virtual desktop sitting on top of the VMware vCloud Hybrid Service. And this enables us now to deliver a company’s desktop and Windows applications out to any device, anywhere—to Android tablets, iPads, MacBooks, you name it. I’m sitting here right now on my MacBook; five minutes from now I can jump on my Chromebook and get the exact same desktop in the exact same moment that I was in—all hosted out of the vCloud Hybrid Service. We have full client support for Android, iOS, Mac, thin clients; we have Web-based access…[and]…an HTML 5 version.”

Sam Cross, Chief Technology Officer of IT outsourcing provider CompuCom, said that the service allowed his firm to simplify virtual desktop deployment and management for clients without requiring a major upfront capital investment. “VMware Horizon DaaS, wrapped with additional solutions from CompuCom, will enable customers to offload many of the desktop administration responsibilities for a truly hosted offering,” Gross said in a statement. “For CompuCom [who was named a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for End-User Outsourcing Services, North America], partners like this help us further strengthen our value to clients.”

VMware said that customers can now buy the VMware Horizon DaaS service directly from VMware, in addition to buying it from resellers and channel partners. “[Partners] can build their own cloud in their own public cloud with our platform,” Grant explained, “or they can turn around and resell this new service based on the vCloud platform. So it all depends on their preference.”

VMware Horizon DaaS is available starting at $35 per user per month (the same amount Amazon has said it will charge for Amazon WorkSpaces) through select resellers. .

.

Watch theCUBE’s interview with VMware’s Bill Fathers in its entirety:

.
Photo of Dave Grant courtesy of VMware.
Maria Deutscher contributed to this story.

About Suzanne Kattau

Suzanne Kattau (formerly Suzanne Harnos) is a veteran computer journalist based in New York. She has been on staff at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek, eWEEK, Software Development Times, and is currently Cloud Technology Editor at SiliconANGLE Media. She‏ covers consumer cloud (services, news, trends, etc.). Email her at suzannekattau@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneKattau. View all her posts at suzannekattau.com.