An industry that started with the moniker Desktop as a Service (DaaS), that many now call itself Workspace as a Service (WaaS), has become commonplace in the world of IT management. But, what’s with the different names and how many inroads has the technology really made?
First, the reason for the name change is because people finally realized that Desktop as a Service was a misnomer. When you hear the work desktop, you’re inclined to think the technology is all about the “desktop”, but it’s not. In fact, the technology provides a window into the server infrastructure and creates individual profiles on a server that act like and look like a desktop to the end user, but all the computing and automation happens at the server level.
Furthermore, if you’re employing the right software, then you’re able to host, deploy and orchestrate applications from any public or private cloud, allowing service providers and IT administrators to manage a complete workspace. The change in the terminology is welcomed and long overdue based on what the technology actually delivers.
Regardless of what you want to call it, many industry pundits having been trying to predict when the technology will go “mainstream” and when we’ll see massive adoption. While technology moves faster and faster, it still takes time for new concepts to take a strong foothold, especially in the channel.
People are generally averse to change, so gaining massive adoption is a process.
First you need to change the minds of the service provider, second you need to produce an economic model that makes sense for the service provider and then it’s up to those service providers to sell the new idea to their end clients. That can be a long cycle.
Let me provide an example of the cycle from a personal perspective. As a former leader of an MSP, I remember hearing the term BDR in the context of a product offering for the first time in 2008. At Thrive Networks, we didn’t start to sell a BDR solution until 2009. By the time we really understood what we’re doing it was 2011 and then we became very aggressive selling against tape back-up and insisting our managed clients have a BDR solution because economic model worked and it was the right thing to do for the client.
Today, over 95% of the MSPmentor 501 offers a BDR solution to their clients, making it the #1 product offered by MSPs in the world with Datto taking the most market share in the category.
If you had told me back in 2009 that BDR would eventually beat out RMM (93% penetration in the MSPmentor 501) for that #1 product spot, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I probably would have called you crazy. After all, RMM really invented the MSP recurring revenue model!
Now that we have some perspective on the time it takes a for technology to gain traction in the channel, lets return to the WaaS discussion. The first time many service providers heard of DaaS (now WaaS) it was 2012 and at that point people were confusing it with VDI (which people still do). Many service providers learned more about it from 2012-2013, but most really didn’t start selling it until 2014.
Today, according to the 2015 MSPmentor 501 data, 52% of providers offer DaaS, with another 15% saying it’s a growth area for them in 2016.
As for the market leaders, IndependenceIT® leads the way the with most 501 companies leveraging its Cloud Workspace® Cloud Management Platform, (please note, we did not count their SDDC management or app service management licenses in this analysis) and itopia has the most market share with those 501 companies that leverage a complete end to end WaaS platform. That said, it’s still a wide open space with more competition entering the fray every quarter.
Even though we have more data on the market then we did even last year, many questions still remain. Will WaaS eventually see the type of adoption BDR has enjoyed over the last few years? And if it does, who will emerge has the market leaders? Will we ever see a WaaS provider with a billion dollar valuation like Datto? What we do know is that the emerging technology now has a more appropriate name and continues to make progress with many service providers and their SMB clients.
Who knows maybe in 2020 WaaS will be the #1 channel product for service providers on the MSPmentor 501.
If you’re interested in learning more about WaaS and how it’s becoming a part of the service provider ecosystem, you should check out HostingCon July 24-27th. I will be there talking about creating a successful cloud strategy, which for some businesses could include WaaS.