NaviSite’s Sumeet Sabharwal on the evolution of desktop as a service

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At the back end of 2014 Sumeet Sabharwal, group vice president and general manager at NaviSite, penned a company blog explaining how the year had been “significant” for desktop as a service (DaaS) on a number of fronts. Maturation of technology, expansion of the provider landscape, and expansion of endpoint devices, such as the support of Chromebooks, have helped create a maelstrom going into 2015.

Speaking at Cloud Expo Europe Sabharwal expanded on this vision, and why a technology with such high potential had been struggling in recent years.

“It was positioned as everything for everyone,” he tells CloudTech. “It’s really aimed at very specific workloads, very specific use cases. We kind of figured that out by trial and error.”

The theory two years ago was ‘the desktop is dead, long live the desktop’, Sabharwal argues. But it’s for industry specific workloads; if a company had 200,000 employees, then it’s only around 5,000 to 10,000 that NaviSite would see fit to target with its cloud-based virtual desktop solutions, delivered through a DaaS model.

Maturation of technology is seen as key. IP protocol issues, latency problems and resolution difficulties were major issues, but aren’t as much of a headache now. Yet Sabharwal notes it’s still a highly complex system to get to work.

“It’s not child’s play,” he says, citing the issues of image management, desktop engineering and Active Directory integration. “What we realised from customers was just taking a platform alone and saying ‘here’s a platform, go make it work’ does not work. It’s complex, it’s hard work.

“All of that has to be done as a managed service – [customers] don’t have the inclination, expertise, wherewithal, so we’ve expanded our capabilities and streamlined that.

“That is where enterprises say ‘yep, I get it, now it’s great; I know there’s applicability and I struggle to make it work, now I’ve got the expertise to make it work,’” he adds.

Back in December Sabharwal noted how 2014 was the year DaaS “came out of the shadows of VDI” (virtual desktop infrastructure). VDI, however, is at an interesting path. As Ken Hess writes for ZDNet: “I remember a time when predictions were in the billions of dollars related to converting standard desktops to virtual ones. Funny thing is it hasn’t really happened.”

For VMware however, who work with NaviSite, the acquisition of CloudVolumes is an exciting development according to Sabharwal. “The ability to build virtual desktops on the fly with the end user data, the personalisation of Ops and being able to deliver persistent desktops...the economics further makes the solution much more palatable and affordable,” he says.

How do you see desktop as a service evolving? You can find out more about NaviSite’s solutions here.

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