One of the final frontiers missing in the Cloud world of Saas, Paas and Iaas is Desktop Virtualization as a Service (Daas). Yes, I am referring to VDI, or the virtual desktop infrastructure.
The obvious applications that has already been “webalized” are E-mail, CRM or project management, just to name a few . But what about the other apps?
You are already familiar with video storage (YouTube), file storage (Dropbox or Box.net), and photo storage (Picassa or FlickR).
As well, you possibly use online photo editing software (like Pixlr), telephony (Skype or Google Phone) or Web Conferencing (sorry, DimDim will no longer be available after March 2011 due to the Salesforce.com acquisition).
All of these are Cloud apps.
Even the old fashioned way of bookmarking your favorite web sites or pages can be saved using Digg or StumbleUpon.
All you need is a browser and log in. That’s the cloud.
But with the average user owning 3 or 4 devices (laptop at home, PC at work, iPhone and iPad when travelling), wouldn’t it be nice to have a single instance of your desktop that is consistent across all platforms and devices? And available over the cloud through any browser with no special software to be installed?
Corporate users will be familiar with Microsoft Terminal Services or Citrix, which offers Terminal Services through an application, thin client, or even through a browser (ActiveX required). Other vendors include GoToMyPC, Microsoft RDP, LogMeIn, and VNC remote desktops.
Thus I am surprised there isn’t a bigger market for Desktop Virtualization as a Service. You can think of this as a glorified file storage application.
As long as your upload ability is not crippled, and at the mercy of “always-on”, low-latency networks, that will be the key for user adoption. Just like high speed Internet networks were available for the home consumer by the end of the 1990’s helped promote the SaaS industry.
Eventually, with the amount of SaaS variety, there will be less and less dependency over heavy weight apps for your laptop or PC. Year after year, the desktop has less apps being “Virtualized” because those apps are now being “Webalized”. I doubt PhotoShop or AutoCad will be fully in the cloud, but their lite versions do exists like Pixlr.
Examples of Desktop Virtualization
The one company that comes close is iCloud.
At the storage level, the first 3Gb is free, then additional storage fees start at 100Gb for $39/year.
But it is more than just a storage box. There are some basic applications and gadgets to make it a real Desktop Virtualization environment.
At a quick glance, it appears as a Linux flavour of a GUI desktop. A bit rudimentary, but it works.
It can also consolidate your all your emails or IM accounts, too.
But the real power behind Desktop Virtualization is the synchronicity between your desktop and mobile devices. If you have several scattered devices that you need to consolidate in terms of data, then Desktop Virtualization is the way to go.
If you have other suggestions for vendors, please list them in the comments section below.