Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) solutions — which include the ability to log in to a remote, cloud-hosted desktop and access a suite of cloud-hosted applications — are projected to grow from $7.4 billion in 2014 to $18.3 billion by 2022, according to intelligence provider Transparency Market Research.
WaaS can offer businesses several operational advantages — part of the reason their popularity has been increasing. One of the factors driving the surge is convenience; cloud services are becoming progressively easier to use. Money is another factor. WaaS’ cost-effective, service-based structure can help small- and medium-sized businesses access enterprise-grade technology.
What is WaaS?
WaaS can essentially be viewed as the next step up from Desktop-as-a-Service.
DaaS systems let users log in to their account remotely from most web-enabled devices. This is one of DaaS’ major benefits, because it allows for more robust, bring your own device (BYOD) policies, as well as a more flexible workspace. Yet unfortunately, the configuration and management of desktop applications in a DaaS system may still rest in the hands of local IT administration — unless that responsibility is outsourced to an external service provider.
But often, the big-name hosting providers offer nothing but storage. The company that hires the provider is still responsible for configuring that space or buying services to use with the cloud hosting it has arranged to use.
True WaaS providers will handle all necessary workspace system aspects — ranging from remote desktop and application access set up to monitoring and management — freeing IT departments up to focus on other important concerns.
Why use WaaS?
A system with service provider managed, cloud-hosted desktop applications, coupled with the ability to log in remotely, can offer several advantages, including:
If you’ve ever had to establish and provision a user account, you know it can be a time-consuming process. Not only that, sometimes local IT companies don’t have the resources to develop all-in-one solutions and rely on clunky multiple logins or application suites. A single, managed workspace simplifies the whole process, from provisioning to day-to-day work.
It costs less.
A company that specializes in developing cloud-hosted storage, building out remote desktop instances and server infrastructure, and configuring software suites has the advantage of scale. They can offer the same service as a local IT department to multiple clients at a fraction of the cost.
It removes barriers.
Smaller businesses tend to be more vulnerable to cyberattack — but might not have the resources to implement a defense plan. Or they might need to provision a remote employee and lack the technology to do so. Using a managed workspace provider will remove these obstacles, making it easier and less risky for small businesses to flex and adapt to the changing nature of technology-based business functions.
It streamlines processes.
By adopting a “one-stop shop” approach to a workspace, smaller businesses can get more value for their IT dollars by using a single administrator, with a single point of contact. The administrator can then help plan an efficient strategy for the company’s technology design and use.
How does WaaS work?
First, you need to have a device and an internet connection. If you’ve got an Ethernet infrastructure, that’s even better.
Next, work with a service provider to build the services and infrastructure you need. You’ll want to know if you need a database, email server, web hosting, active directory and which applications you’ll be using. If you’re not sure what you need, ask questions. Most service providers can help you develop a map to illustrate the type of technology that will best suit your business.
After you’ve set up your tech structure, securely log in to your remote desktop connection. Your service provider should be offering a secure, encrypted connection between your device and its cloud-hosted services. Part of the workspace should include two-factor authentication to avoid unauthorized access. Encryption prevents people from snooping while your data is in transit. By this point, you should be able to access to your data anywhere you have internet access.
Open and use your applications. With a workspace service, the process should be seamless. A good service provider will configure and test the workspace environment so you don’t see any error messages or usability issues. Applications should connect to their databases without trouble. It’s often a good idea to test your access in multiple locations: at your office, in a coffee shop and using your smartphone’s data connection at another venue, for example.
Lastly, roll the system out to new users. Your service provider should have a plan to get them up and running easily and quickly, and those new users should have full access to their tools soon after they log in. If, on the other hand, a user needs to be deprovisioned, your service provider should offer a simple, quick and complete method of revoking access. If your service provider includes a self-service portal to reset passwords or add users, that’s an added bonus.
The bottom line
Given the various benefits WaaS can provide, the IT industry will likely, in the coming years, continue to move toward cloud-hosted services, prompting the market to continue to expand.
It’s an understandable progression. Usability is one of the key components of the client; the easier and simpler a tool is to use, the more likely a customer will be content with it. WaaS systems fulfill two very valid business needs. By providing a full-featured, easy to access portal, WaaS helps improve both overall and individual user IT-related efficiency. Thanks to the cost savings and flexibility cloud storage provides, WaaS also delivers enterprise-grade technology, at a price even small businesses can afford. That’s a combination few companies would willingly turn down.