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Cloud Expo: Article

Three Ways to Sell Desktop-as-a-Service

And how a provider can create its strongest allies

Cloud service providers are up against several key challenges when it comes to selling desktop virtualization technology. An understanding of the benefits of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) rarely exists, and licensing concerns - and their rising costs - are not going away any time soon. Knowing the do's and don't of selling desktop-as-a-service before diving in can solve problems on the front end while ensuring adoption of DaaS occurs in companies of all shapes and sizes.

1. Turn IT administrators into allies, not opponents.
Among the myriad reasons enterprises cite for turning to desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) technology, a few prove instrumental in driving its adoption. When evaluating the decision drivers behind DaaS, it is important to consider what the actual motivators behind a switch away from traditional desktop computing may be, and who it is that must be properly motivated. While some of the most progressive executives of small and mid-sized businesses may themselves be the driving force behind such a switch, it is worth noting that these are not typically the individuals interacting with DaaS providers. On the other hand, those who head the IT department of a company have many potential motivators for spearheading a switch from traditional compute to virtualized hosted Windows desktops. The time, energy and frustration DaaS can spare those who actually administer end-user compute for organizations with dozens - or hundreds - of desktops can be significant. If these individuals are sufficiently aware of the benefits they stand to accrue through a switch to more efficient DaaS technology, it follows intuitively that such heads of IT organizations would be among the strongest advocates for such a shift.

Interestingly, these factors bring into consideration another reality. Providers of cloud-hosted DaaS often find they are interacting with an individual who often does not bear the direct economic cost of his actions. The IT head who would implement DaaS stands to gain all of the benefits and none of the direct costs of the technology. In such situations, the financial decision maker who bears the direct cost thus becomes the primary bottleneck to progress and technological advancement. Evaluation of these factors brings this discussion to its ultimate point:

IT administrators, and the Cloud Hosting Providers who would sell DaaS to them, quite often find themselves with uniquely aligned goals; both parties stand to directly benefit from the technology, and both must sell its merits to those who bear the direct cost of implementation. Cloud providers who are to successfully propagate desktop virtualization technology must hold in esteem these IT administrators as the allies they are. Ultimately, the most successful providers will market their technologies to enterprises through - and not to - their IT departments.

DaaS provides many advantages in flexibility, control, and agility to enterprises with large end-user compute requirements. These advantages may be realized across the board - in terms of increased efficiency, higher availability, and ease of scaling. Additionally, DaaS makes anytime, anywhere access available across a wide spectrum of user devices, driving enhanced productivity. These are all points that can - and must - be spoken to as part of a successful strategy to drive virtualization technology. Those who can speak best to the individualized needs, requirements, and existing pain points of an enterprise's end-user compute pool are those who know their organizations from the inside out. An enterprise's IT department knows the idiosyncratic requirements of their particular organization better than anyone and can therefore best speak to these points in advancing DaaS adoption. These individuals also often have the strongest personal motivators for seeing its successful implementation.

It is not surprising that DaaS would have strong advocates on both sides of the market. Providers must be careful, however, not to alienate those who would otherwise be their greatest allies. Some in IT may fear this technology as undermining their necessity. Much to the contrary, desktop virtualization is a tool that enables, not eliminates, IT departments. This technology makes IT personnel more effective, and thus more relevant. DaaS technology brings unprecedented flexibility and control to the IT specialist, empowering him and giving him greater impact than ever before. The provider of quality virtualized desktops that understands these tenants at their core, and the needs of its customers, is the provider that will enjoy the greatest success in coming years.

2. License customers properly - VDI does not eliminate or replace a license burden.
When signing on new customers, transparency is paramount. It is essential that the service provider supply an accurate representation of licensing costs and be entirely clear about what these costs do and do not cover. Dislike it as we may, desktop virtualization in no way eliminates the need to properly furnish the end user with accurate Microsoft licensing for Windows desktops. Do not deceive your customers when it comes to Microsoft licensing. While it may come as a surprise to some that this point need be made at all, poor licensing practice seems to be an all-too-common trend emerging in the industry. Suspect providers downplay, or avoid mentioning at all, the additional costs of licensing that customers will incur beyond the DaaS subscription itself. Do not be swayed by those suspect service providers offering license free or "rented" license subscriptions.

3. Don't focus on cost. Focus on quality.
So, you have on board a new client with 100 virtual desktop licenses. Now, can you guarantee the client the highest degree of uptime and reliable, consistent access to its hosted desktops? The answer should be a resounding yes. At the end of the day, the availability of your cloud infrastructure will prove the most important consideration for a business customer. The cost of your customers' losing productivity is very high. Payroll for a 100-person company on average is $35,000 per day. If those employees can't work because your VDI cloud is offline, there will be problems. Quality here is key - you may be able to acquire customers with an attractive price, but you will lose them just as quickly if you can't back up your price with availability of service. With promises of increased availability and easier administration, DaaS can be a double-edged sword. Increased availability is only realized when the provider can back its promises. For this reason, the cost of a DaaS subscription comes second in importance to its functionality. The real cost - or savings - of VDI comes as a function of its quality.

More Stories By Marshall Lincoln

Marshall Lincoln is a Cloud Marketing Analyst at 8x8, Inc. (NASDAQ:EGHT). 8x8 is a provider of cloud virtualization services, under the Zerigo brand, with public and enterprise-grade solutions for Desktops as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Cloud Virtual Private Servers and Virtual DNS. 8x8's Zerigo Hosted VDI enables businesses to capitalize on the myriad user benefits inherent to VMware's View with a simple, proprietary user-interface and on-demand desktop provisioning.

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