Cost may not be key for Amazon’s Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

Amazon has a history of big-footing into markets when it is ready to impose lower price points and create concomitant, increased demand in a sector. Thus, with the introduction of its WorkSpaces cloud-based, desktop virtualization service last month, Amazon Web Services has increased interest in DaaS offerings. As with many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, however, it is the adaptability of a new technology delivery model, rather than cost savings, that may drive adoption in the market.

Other vendors have been cultivating DaaS. Dell has been expanding on its original desktop virtualization services for nearly three years, although its offering has gained limited traction to date. VMware was an early provider in the market that increased its commitment this fall by acquiring Desktone, a multitenant DaaS partner. AWS itself had previously partnered with Citrix in supporting its Xendesktop virtualization solution.

A beachhead for more SaaS offerings

Gigaom.com this week has a post from an AWS partner extolling the broader potential for AWS WorkSpaces. From this perspective, WorkSpaces becomes, if not quite a Trojan horse entree for AWS SaaS providers to provision and support their services directly in customer accounts, at least a beachhead by which support for additional SaaS applications becomes more feasible.

In turn, more DaaS demand

In this scenario, WorkSpaces becomes not just a springboard for more AWS-based vendors and products—the pull of those AWS-based products reinforces demand for the adoption of WorkSpaces as well. Thus, whether or not AWS bends the cost curve for DaaS, it can add value by integrating with and easing the delivery of AWS-based SaaS solutions. Amazon’s consumer-level marketing capabilities and brand power may also factor in the firm’s potential to impose DaaS on the SMB market, especially; but similar dynamics can be expected with DaaS for other SaaS platforms.

Questions on pricing

AWS has positioned WorkSpaces as halving the traditional cost for DaaS. Others aren’t so convinced: Forbes’ Gene Marks uses the experience of his own small business to challenge the claim. Actual 2014 deals will have to be watched to determine how much of a factor Amazon’s entry is on the direction of pricing in the market. But management, agility, and additional application support may prove greater factors in considering a virtual desktop deployment. This has already been the experience with many SaaS deployments in complex environments—where new capabilities and flexibility, rather than cost savings, are the benefits actually realized.

Changing dynamics and the ‘personal cloud’

Finally, as Jonathan Feldman points out in informationweek.com, the advent of server-independent remote storage presents another dynamic by which personal—and hence business—computing may take a twist in 2014. With Western Digital’s concept of the ‘personal cloud’, end users and organizations may have another, non-public cloud, means of providing remote data backup. Will this technology become significant for end-user configurations? And if so, will it begin to form a departmental counterweight to the potential loss of local control with centrally-managed desktop virtualization?

The rise of tablets and mobility have been the news in personal and desktop computing for several years; while virtualization has washed through the data center, enabled SaaS, and begun to impact networking. With the AWS announcement, attention may turn to the virtual desktop and its implications as a factor in more end-user computing environments.