An industry that started with the moniker, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) that many now call 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 word “desktop” you’re inclined to think the technology is all about the desktop.
In fact, the technology provides a window into the server infrastructure and creates individual profiles on a server that act and look like a desktop to the end user. All the computing and automation, however, 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.
So, the change in the terminology is welcomed and long overdue, based on what the technology actually delivers.
Channel Adoption Lags
Now, regardless of what you want to call it, many industry pundits have been trying to predict when the technology will go “mainstream,” leading to massive adoption.
While technology moves faster and faster, it still takes time for new concepts to gain 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.
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 backup disaster recovery (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 were doing it was 2011.
Then we became very aggressive selling against tape backup and insisting our managed clients have a BDR solution because the economic model worked and it was the right thing to do for the client.
Today, over 95 percent of the MSPmentor 501 offers a BDR solution to their clients, making it the No. 1 product offered by MSPs in the world, with Datto taking the most market share in the category.
But if you had told me back in 2009 that BDR would eventually beat out RMM (93 percent penetration in the MSPmentor 501) for that No. 1 product spot, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I probably would have called you crazy.
After all, RMM really made possible the MSP recurring revenue model.
Signs of Momentum
So now that we have some perspective on the time it takes for a 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 virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – which people still do.
Many service providers learned more about it in 2012 and 2013, but most really didn’t start selling it until 2014.
Today, according to the latest MSPmentor 501 data, 52 percent of providers offer DaaS, with another 15 percent saying it’s a growth area for them in 2016.
As for the market leaders, IndependenceIT leads the way, leveraging its Cloud Workspace® Cloud Management Platform (please note, we did not count their software-defined data center [SDDC] management or app service management licenses in this analysis).
Itopia has the most market share among 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 as 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 No. 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 hosting ecosystem, you should check out HostingCon, July 27-30.
I know I will be there talking about it.
Jim Lippie can be reached via email at [email protected].