Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) is really an amalgam of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and desktop applications as a service, where DaaS is the public or private cloud delivery of virtual desktops to users and where desktop applications as a service is the cloud delivery of applications to end user devices.
Desktop applications usually mean Windows applications that have been virtualized or that are part of a virtual desktop session that can be delivered to any end user device. The reported primary drivers behind WaaS are IT convergence, high cloud adoption rates, and BYOD programs.
Companies, especially small to medium-sized businesses, need to lower the high costs associated with end user computing, and the cloud and its associated as-a-Service offerings promise to do that. End user computing is not as simple as it used to be. For example, companies used to purchase or lease hundreds of desktop or laptop computers designated for end users. And either they came factory fresh with a pre-installed operating system and applications or they went to a Desktop deployment group for imaging and distribution. Every system looked like every other system. Images were consistent. Those hundreds of identical systems were deployed to users.
Then came the concept of bring your own device or BYOD.
This makes things a bit more complicated. Now you have a disparate, dissimilar, user-owned computing ecosystem that seems to have few rules or standards associated with it.
Business leaders realize that instead of standardizing the device, they must instead standardize the computing environment or standardize the applications that users access. Vendors have also recognized this need by supplying Android and iOS apps, web-based applications, and SaaS applications that allow users to access a common workspace on any device and from any location.
An IDC research report titled, "Worldwide Workspace-as-a-Service 2014-2018 Forecast", revealed that "the hosted WaaS market will grow from $282 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion by 2018, representing a five-year CAGR of 42.5 percent."
Users are also no longer required to be tethered to a stationary desktop computer. The mobility of laptop computers, tablet computers, and other mobile devices, including phones, have produced a highly mobile, location independent, extremely agile workforce. And workspaces have to keep up with users' need to work from anywhere and on any device.
My personal opinion is that the estimates are low for this rapidly expanding market. Consistent computing environments are now possible and now required for IT savvy employees who are always connected. The companies that make these services possible will succeed with businesses and with users. Those that cannot become agile or make the change to an aaS model will fade away.
Microsoft realized this trend and responded with Office.com. Intuit has done the same with its web-based Quickbooks offering. And Salesforce.com was the first to set up a SaaS CRM solution for its customers. Vendors have long realized that operating systems were less important than the applications themselves. And the BYOD generation couldn't agree more. The seamless interchange of information seems to be the only requirement for applications, regardless of device, vendor, or manufacturer.
A consistent workspace is the goal and users are on board with the concept. And I think that as long as vendors and providers can deliver a secure environment and compatible applications to a diverse array of devices, then users will embrace a bit of corporate swagger with little resistance.
What do you think? Do you think that a consistent Workspace-as-a-Service will replace the "Golden Images" of days gone by? Do you think that WaaS will accelerate BYOD program adoption? Talk back and let me know.
Four WaaS Vendors to check out:
*Research from Transparency Market Research - The Global WaaS Market and Workspace as a Service (WaaS) Market Expected to Reach US$ 18,375.7 Million by 2022 Globally
**IDC Research - Worldwide Workspace-as-a-Service 2014-2018 Forecast