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Managed Service in Search of a Market

There's a new term in the managed services space -- Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), and it's an obvious extension of the SaaS model. Desktone is a company that provides DaaS capabilities to service providers. Its customers, according to CEO Harry Ruda, currently include Verizon and Softbank Telecom.

Ruda characterizes DaaS as a service whereby users obtain their computing services through a remote connection over a network. The physical compute power, if you will, is delivered through a service provider and paid for on some usage basis.

In other words, users can access operating system and applications through a completely hosted system, and the service provider would be responsible at the back-end for storing data, upgrading applications, updating virus protection, among other activities.

Computing Power of a Utility
It relies on the whole concept of utility computing, in which compute power is delivered the same way electricity is -- when you want it in a metered fashion. DaaS proponents even promise that their service, like electricity, is instant-on, because there's no booting of an operating system.

I'm skeptical about a technology that even its proponents admit doesn't work well over wireless connections, when you consider that laptops now outsell desktops because of their ability to work even when users are disconnected.

However, proponents insist that by handing management of PC resources over to a service provider, companies of almost any size can cut maintenance and technical support costs, as well as increase security because the service provider can focus more on patches and virus protection.

Another pioneer in this new category, MokaFive offers a DaaS subscription service for $100 per user per year that uses a virtual machine, which they describe as "centrally managed but locally executed."

That means end-users can choose from among any number of devices -- laptops, Macintoshes, smartphones, tablets -- and have corporate data protected, but can still use their chosen device for other applications or personal information.

Evolution is Easier than a Revolution
The arguments and variations of DaaS go on and on. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the DaaS model may be the fact that it requires extensive re-thinking of one's infrastructure -- either by replacing desktop computers with disk-less computers or significantly upgrading the network bandwidth, or both.

In contrast to DaaS, most of the current "fill-in-the-blank" as a Service models have been tried and proven, because they're a logical evolution from existing operational models. My skepticism remains intact.