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Cisco takes on AWS with cloudy desktop-as-a-service plan

VMware and Citrix dive into DaaS for private or public clouds

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Works with VMware and Citrix to deliver DaaS from your bit barn or the cloud Cisco and VMware have responded to Amazon Web Services Workspaces desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) plan with their very own offering that can be deployed to private or public clouds.

The new offering blends VMware's recently-acquired Deskone with a Cisco Validated Design (that's Cisco-speak for a reference architecture) said to be capable of delivering 252 virtual desktops from a single UCS server. There's also a Citrix-centric version of the Validated Design.

The collaboration is being pitched at service providers keen to kick off a DaaS offering or organisations looking for a simple route to desktop virtualisation (VDI) delivered from a private cloud.

VMware's take on the new alliance is that it will help customers adopt the VDI they want – namely hybrid VDI blending private and public cloud.

Prices aren't mentioned, which is fair enough given it's hard to say just what it will cost for differently-sized rigs in different situations. But with AWS offering desktops at $US35 a month, pricing will need to be keen. Throw in the fact that Amazon AWS has latency-crushing network groomers and compute power galore to throw at DaaS and lesser public cloud providers will have an interesting time delivering a satisfying end-user experience.

Which is not to say it cannot be done. Cisco and VMware invoke the the names of Logicalis, Quest, Netelligent, Dimension Data, Adapt and ANS as the kind of organisation they see delivering DaaS. Managed services providers of the size those outfits are widely regarded as a very useful alternative to low-touch public clouds like AWS, because they offer scale, elasticity, customisability beyond pure-play public cloud and an easy-to-find throat to choke.

The list of providers above may even give Cisco an edge: its announcement features a couple talking about real-world experience delivering DaaS from the cloud. Dimension Data talks about doing it in New Zealand. AWS, by contrast, is in beta and declined your correspondent's request for Workspaces trial on the basis that latency would make the experience unpleasant.

Customers may therefore be the real winners here as the DaaS market coagulates around a leader and a challenger, a situation that often sees innovation hastened by competition and prices fall. ®

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