Workspace as a Service, or WaaS for short, is a type of virtual desktop that gives employees access to their office applications and data from anywhere at any time regardless of geography using the device of their choice (i.e., desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones).
It represents the latest step in the evolution of office applications from on-premise (i.e., servers, workstations, software) to cloud-based “as a service” solutions.
WaaS platforms come with everything that’s needed for a person to take care of office-related tasks. That includes things like anti-virus software, backup capabilities, productivity apps such as Office 365, accounting software and much more. (CloudJumper, a WaaS provider, has more than 2,200 applications in its solution, for example.)
WaaS is especially ideal for a small business that can’t afford the internal resources and infrastructure to manage IT services on their own.
According to Max Pruger, chief sales officer at CloudJumper, who spoke with Small Business Trends via telephone, the technology is particularly attractive to companies that have elastic demand for labor or that use a remote workforce.
“Accounting firms, for example, balloon in size during tax season hiring freelancers, many of who work remotely,” he said. “Firms shrink down to normal size afterwards, and we can turn off access to these remote staff immediately.”
How Does WaaS Work?
From an employee standpoint, use of WaaS is straightforward.
Employees log into the WaaS provider’s service from their device using a remote desktop client and are presented with a virtual desktop environment that looks and works just like their computer at the office.
For service providers, configuring WaaS isn’t complicated and takes as little as a few minutes per workstation or device.
Growth of WaaS
Growth in the use of WaaS is on the rise.
Transparency Market Research (TMR), a market research and consulting firm, stated in a recent report that the global WaaS market will expand at a high 12.10 percent CAGR over the period between 2015 and 2022. TMR expects expansion in the education and health care sectors to be even higher, at 13 percent and 12.9 percent respectively.
“The rising use of industry-specific virtualized applications in these industries will drive the demand for WaaS solutions,” the report said.
TMR also indicated that the market, which had a valuation of $7.4 billion (USD) in 2014, is expected to rise to $18.3 billion by 2022.
What are the Benefits to Using WaaS?
The number of benefits associated with WaaS use is impressive and includes:
Increased Employee Productivity
WaaS solutions enable employees to be more productive and capable of accessing critical applications and data regardless of their geographic location.
Enhanced Work-life Balance
Employees can work from home periodically or when the need arises (to take care of a sick child for instance) without suffering from inferior technology. WaaS providers keep software updated, and the user experience is the same.
Consistency of Environment
Each employee has access to the same applications as everyone else, “whether they are new or have been with the company 20 years,” Pruger said.
“The cost to support devices from the end user perspective is almost nil,” Pruger said. “WaaS providers do all the management on the backend and virtual desktops don’t build up as much junk as the physical machine.”
He added that companies should never have to buy a server again, only to have it depreciate in 3-5 years year or become obsolete even sooner.
“Most companies want to move from capital expenditure to operational expenditure,” he said, and use of WaaS supports that goal. “Now companies have predictable, fixed IT expenses per employee.”
WaaS services complement corporate strategies for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), an approach that is heavily in demand by employees, especially Millennials.
“Employees can bring any device they want because all it’s going to be is a conduit to their desktop in the cloud,” Pruger said.
He mentioned that CloudJumper clients affected by the recent floods in Texas benefited from BYOD and remote access.
“Thanks to WaaS, employees who were unable to get to their offices could work from home using their computers,” he said.
Eliminated IT Hassles
WaaS brings all the company’s desktops to the cloud, eliminating IT hassles. This includes:
- Cloud storage;
- Backup and offsite replication;
- Dedicated business servers;
- MS Office 365 support;
- 24/7 Support.
WaaS offloads all software application and network management so IT can focus on deploying new technologies and systems.
WaaS solutions lock down the desktop, storing data in state-of-the-art, SSAE 16 certified Tier 4 data centers and supports disaster recovery, backups on daily and weekly intervals and built-in protection from hackers and viruses.
Simplified File Storage
No longer will businesses be faced with multiple file servers housed in disparate locations, making it difficult to share data or applications. WaaS houses everything in one place.
Cost to Use WaaS
Although prices vary, Pruger said that small businesses could expect to pay, on average, $100 – $150 per month per employee from the MSP. Typically, that also includes management of the physical devices.
“Once they use the virtual workspace, their costs for management of the physical machine drops to almost nothing,” Pruger said. “Also, because the price for WaaS solutions is so low, MSPs can scale their business without having to dramatically increase resource allocations to hire new employees. And they don’t have to be experts in all of the apps available within the WaaS environment either.”
How Do I Get Started Using WaaS?
Several WaaS providers dot the landscape, though none predominate. Most do not work directly with the end user, however, but partner with managed services providers who perform that service.
It’s best to contact an MSP in your area. If none exist or don’t offer WaaS solutions, then call one of the companies below. Perhaps they can direct you to an MSP who can help.
- Artisan Infrastructure;
- The Sixth Flag;
- EaseTechnologies, Inc.
IT services, MSP, telecom or ISVs can also contact these firms to learn more about the benefits of offering white-label WaaS solutions to their clients. CloudJumper, in particular, is actively recruiting managed service providers to either resell or white-label a WaaS environment. More in: "What Is"