There are so many compelling reasons why I joined Workspot; I want to share a few more with you this week. In my blog last week I discussed the changing dynamics of the Deskop-as-a-Service (DaaS) market that have resulted in Amazon WorkSpaces becoming the revenue leader, the challenges of solution complexity faced by legacy incumbents, and why a cloud-native architecture is essential. In this blog I’ll discuss the challenges around on-boarding and support, and I’ll explore the critical enterprise requirements that customers should consider in their journey to the Desktop Cloud.
PC as a Service requires business model innovation
Buying a physical PC is a pretty well-understood process. You order what you need, you receive your order, you realize value in a reasonable time frame and you may need some ongoing help. Of course, there is some friction in this model, but at least you know what you are going to get.
In contrast, with legacy on-premises VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), you never know how the process will unfold or what you’re going to get. You endure lots of upfront planning, implementation takes months, value realization takes too long, it’s hard to maintain, and meanwhile, operating costs just keep going up. If you knew all that was going to happen, would you do it? Of course not. But that’s exactly what did happen; customers had to take on all the risk of on-premises VDI implementations, and unfortunately, with so many project failures, unhappy customers are the result.
The good news is the cloud presents new opportunities to bring back the more familiar PC model – albeit new and improved! Think PC as a Service! At the center of this new business model is you – the customer – and everything is designed to achieve the outcomes you have specified.
The importance to customers of choosing a solution with a cloud-native architectural foundation, cannot be overstated. This is the key to simplifying customers’ lives. Let’s start with on-boarding. It should not take months to buy a PC, yet with legacy, on-premises VDI it takes months or even years to get it right, and with poorly architected DaaS offerings, getting your “PC” up and running often takes weeks. What really impressed me about Workspot was that we can get you up and running in a day. And we have so much confidence in the value our solution delivers to our customers that we offer a no-risk contract that enables you to deploy quickly, working side by side with us. Nobody else offers this because there is too much friction and cost in their approach and too much complexity in their technology to be economically viable.
One of my pet peeves as a customer was being charged for standard support I felt should be part of an offering. Imagine buying a car and then the manufacturer saying "please pay more for a standard warranty", yet in the software industry this is standard practice. As a vendor in a previous life, one of the most inefficient things I have witnessed is customers stuck in support or deploying software licenses. The legacy business model is to sell expensive support contracts and professional services add-ons to assist these customers. The reality is that many hard working and noble professional services and support personnel are spread thinly across too many products and accounts. This results in a poor-quality customer experience. However, support and professional services are healthy revenue streams for central business units not aligned to product business units. These vendors’ internal interests are not aligned with customer deployment success, which leads to customer frustration and lack of value realization. This is why the very best customers of legacy solutions are always trying to build relationships with executives, engineering and product teams directly so they can find ways to get around this broken model and get what they need.
While there are valid reasons for advanced professional services and many value-add opportunities for cloud centric partners, the legacy software business model and culture is fundamentally flawed, hard to change and does not represent the best interests of customers. It just doesn’t work in a service model. This is why Workspot takes a unique approach: Our Customer Success Program begins with risk-free contracts and free deployment services that are designed to get you up and running quickly, and standard support is included with our solutions.
Windows 10 evergreen desktops
Beyond architectural elegance and business model innovation, there are other enterprise customer requirements for the cloud. Let’s start with the elephant in the room, Windows 10. Amazon WorkSpaces does not offer Windows 10 on shared infrastructure. Amazon WorkSpaces only offers Windows Server with RDSH (Remote Desktop Session Host) and Desktop Experience turned on, or you have to bring your own license and use dedicated hardware for Windows 10. This scenario can take weeks to set up. You can see the frustration this causes customers here on the AWS forums.
This is important to understand, as there are second order consequences, highlighted in this excerpt from arstechnica.
Clearly Microsoft is evolving Windows Server quickly, similar to how they are evolving Windows 10 through faster release cycles. While there is no official statement, there is a lot of industry speculation on the future of RDSH on Windows Server. Does this really matter?
Yes! Regardless of what happens, it's likely that enterprise customers who stay with RDSH will have to stay on the LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) with the same Windows 10 branch if you want to stay in synch. If you don’t keep these in synch (i.e. your physical Windows 10 environment stays up to date), then you have to test your entire application infrastructure against multiple environments - increasing complexity. If you choose to fall behind then you don’t get to take advantage of new capabilities that may be important to business users.
This may have mattered less in the past, with separate teams for PC management vs. VDI/RDSH management. However, with the advent of Windows 10, there are now major updates twice a year, which compounds the problem since staying current is a continual process vs. a traditional migration every five to seven years. This is something all customers will need to address irrespective of solution choice, or they will find themselves dealing with a combinatorial explosion of complexity over just a few Windows 10 releases.
There is also industry speculation that Windows 10 may offer RDSH type functionality natively in the future. My personal opinion is, this is the most logical evolution to reduce application management complexity for customers. Fortunately, when you use Workspot, staying current is much easier – it's even more simple than keeping PCs and laptops current, yet still provides you with the flexibility to use RDSH with App Cloud. We call this evergreen desktops.
Evergreen desktops in the cloud make staying current at scale easy. You can do it with your own corporate image, persistent and non-persistent; Amazon Workspaces isn’t capable of doing this.
These aren’t the only enterprise requirements - there are many more, such as performance, visibility, multi-region and disaster recovery. We’ve proven that evergreen desktops built from the ground up as a cloud-native service make meeting all of these enterprise requirements possible. Evergreen desktops should be easy to order according to your specifications, easy to receive and set up, you should realize value quickly and not be penalized for needing ongoing help. The best place for the evolution of evergreen desktops is on Microsoft Azure. After all, Windows is now becoming part of a service called Microsoft 365, which opens up many future possibilities for evergreen desktops on Azure. It takes a different kind of company to realize this vision and that is why I am so excited to join Workspot.