Hosted Windows Desktops Meet Open Source
Consider the following scenario: mindSHIFT, a Microsoft Gold Partner, is pretty excited about Windows 7’s scheduled Oct. 22 launch. Yet mindSHIFT also is launching a cloud service that blends hosted Windows desktops with open source applications. Is this the start of a bigger trend across the IT channel?
mindSHIFT’s NextDesktop cloud starts at $39,99 per user per month and includes a lengthy list of application options — everything from managed security to Microsoft Windows to Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. Wait a minute: How did OpenOffice — the open source applications suite — get in there?
Call it a sign of the times. Microsoft continues to build its own cloud services (Windows Azure, Business Productivity Online Suite and Office Web, among others). Some channel partners will leverage those services. Other channel partners are looking for ways to diversify and build their own branded managed services around Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange 2010 and Dynamics CRM. And third-party solutions providers, such as Parallels, are launching tools to help VARs and SaaS providers speed their hosted Microsoft application deployments.
No doubt, mindSHIFT continues to work closely with Microsoft. The company is a Microsoft .Net fan. But the days of VARs spending all their time focused on Microsoft-centric solutions are over.
Competing and Cooperating with Microsoft
When The VAR Guy visited mindSHIFT a few weeks ago, the company raved about Windows 7’s stability, user interface and overall speed/performance. Yet mindSHIFT continues to hedge its own business bets — on traditional desktops and on hosted desktops. The NextDesktop cloud service, which offers OpenOffice as an applications option, is proof of that.
The VAR Guy suspects quite a few VARs are gearing up to make similar hosted and SaaS moves.