Why Workspace-as-a-Service is Wassup in IT Virtualization

November 7th, 2017
Andrew Bunyi
Andrew BunyiCloud CIO

Remember those Y2K-era beer commercials that had everyone, including grandmothers, howling “Wassup?” There was a time when they made us laugh. Now viewers may be more amused by the old-fashioned telephones with the curly cords or thick wireless handsets with antennas.

What’s up is that digital technology has come a long way, baby, since 2000. And, if you are looking for an easier, less expensive way to manage IT and give employees access to company applications and data — whether in the office or far from it — you may find yourself asking questions such as:

  • Wassup with WaaS and what is it?
  • Didn’t we enable DaaS to make BYOD more available?
  • What’s virtualization and what’s a VM?
  • Does anybody have some ibuprofen? I’m getting a headache from all these acronyms, and my pain isn’t virtual.

Why Virtualization Emerged

In the early 1960s, huge mainframe computers could only handle one function run by one person at a time. Programmers signed up for times to use a mainframe in a tedious system called “batching.”

To eliminate batching, IBM, General Electric and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology experimented with a process called virtualization. They wanted to partition mainframe operating systems so more than one program and more than one person could use them at a time.

smartphone waas

Leap ahead about 30 years from the beginnings of virtualization, and you reach the beginning of mobile computing via the first smartphone, IBM’s Simon. Jump another 15 years to reach iPhones, Androids and handheld virtual desktop computing power so great that everybody’s favorite extraterrestrial might plead “ET log in to home.”

After all, mere humans enabled by workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) can reach their work desktops worldwide from anywhere an Internet connection exists. And that brings us back to questions concerning what the two services are and how they diverge.

How WaaS Differs from DaaS

Both WaaS and DaaS connect users to virtual desktops that allow them to log in remotely to work accounts and to do it using a broad range of web-enabled devices.

Virtual desktops operate on a VM (virtual machine), which is a set of software that acts like a server and is hosted on an actual machine. So, a virtual machine is a computer within a computer, and a physical server can host multiple VMs, each supporting multitudes of virtual desktops.

The actual hardware is located in data centers that may contain tens of thousands of servers. Cloud computing services typically encompass many data centers. For example, in June 2017, Forbes reported that the Microsoft Azure cloud computing service is divided into 38 regions, each containing 100 datacenters.

Virtualization saves users money on a number of IT concerns, especially hardware and maintenance. But that’s true for both DaaS and WaaS. Also, users of cloud services may select private, public or hybrid networks when using either of these desktop services. Both types of virtual desktop services offer all three models. So what really differentiates WaaS from DaaS?

The answer is that WaaS is much easier to use. It doesn’t require your IT department or managed service provider to design the architecture of your virtual desktop system or select the applications, data backup or security solutions needed.

Bring your own device

A legitimate WaaS provider designs and manages desktop systems after consulting with users about their needs. It also identifies how to scale and negotiate purchases of cloud hosting.

In contrast, DaaS is a do-it-yourself project. It can potentially drain staff of time to handle other IT tasks, such as guiding adoption of new technologies that give companies a competitive edge.

When BYOB Became BYOD

So, who has time for a beer when work has gone crazy with management and coworkers expecting responses to messages and document sharing around the clock? These are the days of bringing your own device (BYOD) to meetings whether they occur during the workday at the office or at home late at night.

As mobile devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones proliferated in recent years, they presented greater opportunities for flexible job arrangements, such as telecommuting and checking inventory while on the road. It’s a rare service worker, from cable installers to plumbers, who doesn’t carry a computer tablet for communicating with the office at each work stop.

But employees often prefer to use their personal mobile devices for business due to familiarity. Consequently, myriad operating systems and employee errors have presented companies with BYOD concerns about ease of integration and security. As a consequence, companies are increasingly establishing formal BYOD policies.

Careful design and management of WaaS should include tools protecting against breaches while enabling the flexibility of BYOD. As technology industry analyst Brian Madden reported in May 2017, the virtual desktop service at Nerdio is part of a larger program of assistance that is called IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS).

Along with the construction of infrastructure for a platform like Nerdio’s WaaS virtual desktops, subscriptions to the ITaaS cloud include deployment of billing software, Office 365, security and antivirus tools, two-factor authentication and disaster recovery solutions. Remote monitoring is another part of the package.

If you’re interested in learning more about Nerdio, click here.

waas example

Who Benefits From Virtualization?

It’s obvious how we’ve all benefited from virtualization of mainframes.  But who gains from today’s virtual desktops and other managed IT services in the cloud?

  • First, desktop virtualization — especially WaaS — has made it speedier for IT departments to set up well-provisioned user accounts. It has also freed them to focus on other IT functions, such as becoming digital transformation specialists.
  • Second, for businesses and other organizations, virtualization reduces IT costs while also decreasing vulnerability to cyberattacks.
  • Third, managed service providers find that WaaS and ITaaS offer affordable solutions for customers who run small and mid-sized organizations. In particular, disaster mitigation through virtualization helps them protect clients against destruction of records, loss of income and lack of communication with employees.
  • Ultimately, virtualization helps individual users by making their work more flexible and allowing use of familiar digital tools.

Wassup is that virtualization benefits many.