Harry Labana: Why I Joined Workspot – Part One

Author: Harry Labana

Who are the Tier-1 DaaS (Desktop-As-A-Service) public cloud players?

Most people who implement legacy, on-premises VDI/RDSH solutions would probably guess that these same vendors are also the leading providers in the cloud since DaaS has been around for several years now. What I believe most people don’t realize is, Amazon Workspaces is at least ten times greater in revenue for DaaS than other vendors combined, on public cloud infrastructure. That’s pretty amazing when you step back and think about what has happened in just a few years since Amazon Workspaces was launched.

On-premises VDI/RDSH solutions from the leading players generated about $3B in revenue in 2017. When you really dig into the details of VDI analyst reports, you find that the growth rate for legacy on-premises solutions is in the mid-single digits. The larger, future growth projections are not due to growth in on-premises solutions, they are driven by a shift to cloud delivery models. On-premises solutions are now considered legacy and only receive incremental investment to sustain customers during a multi-year transition to the cloud. As a result, legacy providers are attempting to shift their focus to the cloud.

In contrast, I would estimate DaaS delivered from a public cloud captured about $500M in revenue in 2017 with a growth rate of around 30%. So conservatively, within three years, DaaS will capture over $1B annually. Amazon WorkSpaces has become the market revenue leader and relegated the legacy players to tier 2 in the world of DaaS.

But aren’t workspace suites the future?

Due to this shift and the fact that cloud revenue is still nascent for legacy players, we are now seeing ‘workspace suite’ license bundles from traditional players that combine enterprise mobility management and other wares with VDI.

These license bundles help drive customer up-sell and are a proven growth strategy. It’s a great way to show macro growth numbers to Wall Street and avoid explaining the details of slowing or nascent growth rates in portions of the suite. It also enables marketing to evangelize the promise of a broader platform that comes together through piece parts, that often just tick industry buzzword boxes.

From a practical point of view, it’s very difficult to create and implement a platform from piece parts sold as bundles. Customer value realization will need to be proved over time. The technical and cultural journey is a multi-year one to get right. A good example to illustrate what it takes is Microsoft 365. This has been years in the making with Office 365, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility and Security designed from the ground up and now starting to come together upon a sound architectural foundation that leverages many years of investments in Azure. It’s a massive technical undertaking that Microsoft invested in a long time ago that earns them the right to truly make a platform claim. It also requires a cultural transformation –  a different type of company to – get it right. Microsoft clearly understands this as demonstrated by their biggest organizational shake-up in years that’s moving them forward to focus on their strategy of ‘intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge’.

So while the traditional VDI/RDSH players will keep pushing into DaaS to thwart Amazon Workspaces, how successful will they be? Let’s dig deeper.

Building a cloud-native desktop service is a different game

Several years ago, before he was Microsoft CEO, I was fortunate enough to have a detailed conversation with Satya Nadella. One of the topics we discussed was cloud competition. I remember him saying something along the lines of, “Running IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) clouds at scale can only be accomplished by a few companies.” This was because the operational learning, skill, and discipline took years to develop through experience and needed a culture that kept it current. This is one reason I believe many early attempts at DaaS have failed, i.e. getting the IaaS infrastructure to work is extremely difficult and why leading DaaS providers are pushing to move to public cloud infrastructure.

However, if it were as simple as hosting something on public cloud infrastructure, wouldn’t DaaS already be a much larger market on the public cloud? There are many other factors to consider; I’ll highlight architecture today. In Part 2 of this two-part blog series, I’ll talk more about on-boarding, support and enterprise requirements that make Microsoft Azure a better choice.

A customer centric architecture is needed

For this discussion, Galls Law is very instructive:


As any practitioner can attest to, on-premises VDI is complex, costly and hard to scale. So logically, simply moving complex, existing architectures into hosted cloud solutions is going to have limited success and will very likely result in lots of service outages and be challenged at scale. Additionally, if your architecture has to serve the needs of both legacy on-premises solutions and public cloud infrastructure, you end up making compromises and adding more complexity.

For the cloud, the architecture has to be re-imagined. It has to be a cloud-native, multi-tenant, and globally distributed architecture that is designed for customers to achieve successful outcomes. To earn customer trust, simplicity has to be a core requirement to achieve assured availability and quick time-to-value.  As you can see from our CTO’s tweet, it took many years for Workspot to achieve 99.99% availability for 2017!


I’m most excited by our customer traction

I’ve touched upon the incredible growth market we are in and why I believe building a true service requires a ground-up approach with fresh thinking. Check! However, Workspot’s customer traction to date and growth trajectory is what sealed the deal for me. We already publicly showcase a diverse set of successful customers and there are plenty more who are delivering business outcomes in several solution areas such as Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC), Healthcare, Legal, Manufacturing and Education. I am excited to channel my many years of experience (or perhaps it’s better said that I’ll share my “battle scars” so you don’t have to make the same mistakes!) to lead the charge at Workspot as a customer-first organization that earns your trust. I look forward to connecting with you as we accelerate our journey to disrupt the status quo and delight millions of users with Workspot Desktop Cloud, App Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog, next week…