ViewSonic, Userful partner to offer hardware-software VDI bundle for economy market

Both companies see this bundled solution as a great way for PC-focused hardware partners to get into the VDI market.

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Mike Holstein, Vice President of Business Development and Emerging Technologies for ViewSonic Americas

Visual technology hardware vendor ViewSonic and Calgary’s Userful Corporation, which makes desktop virtualization software, have announced a strategic global partnership which will see them offer a joint hardware-software VDI bundle for cost-conscious customers that will be easy for traditional hardware partners without VDI experience to deploy.

“We have worked closely with the Userful team to put this relationship together and are extremely excited about the opportunity to work with them,” said Mike Holstein, Vice President of Business Development and Emerging Technologies for ViewSonic Americas. “Userful has been in business since 1999, and has shipped over a million seats without being a well-known brand.”

“This is a major new approach for us which is quite revolutionary,” said Tim Griffin, Chief Technical Officer at Userful Corporation. “This is the first time anyone has launched a joint hardware-software solution out of the box, with ViewSonic coming in and answering the hardware question. Having this joint solution will make it much easier to offer VDI to customers.”

The partnership will offer simple and flexible all-in-one, low-cost VDI solutions, including client devices and multi-platform software that will support a mix of native Linux, Chrome Cloud and Microsoft Windows virtual desktops.

“We have made major product changes in the last year and a half,” Griffin said. While Userful started out as a pure Linux vendor, that’s no longer the case.

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Tim Griffin, Chief Technical Officer at Userful

“We have developed a new container approach so you can deliver any OS on the Userful platform,” he said. “It’s still Linux under the hood, but that doesn’t mean a Linux experience is required for the customers. They can choose Linux, or another OS, even Android.”

“We’ve done partnerships in the past but this is more extensive than anything we have done before,” Holstein said. “This will also be a global product offering. Other regions are very interested in this.”

Holstein noted that this kind of broadening out is important for a hardware vendor like ViewSonic, which in the last three years has developed a healthy VDI business with Integrated Thin Client and Zero Client Displays, as well as discrete Thin and Zero Clients.

“From a long term perspective, everything is migrating to the cloud, so as a monitor manufacturer for 27 years, this is a very strategic move for ViewSonic and this partnership is a point along that transition,” he said. “We will be able to bring to market a solution for customers who don’t need all the capabilities of today’s VDIs, and we think we will be very successful with this.”

Because this is a LAN-based solution, it doesn’t support smartphone or tablet access, so it will be of no interest to organizations which demand a BYOD component.

“There are still many markets where this will be a very strong play, like education, libraries, business centers, internet cafes, and call centres,” Holstein said. “While we see the basic need is for client devices, it will also work well in digital signage or kiosks.”

The solution will be a co-branded one, where it will be in with ViewSonic hardware, but will also be branded as Userful. It will go to market through both of their channels, with the ViewSonic channel, of course, being much larger.

“We are a very channel-friendly company, and this is a tremendous opportunity for our channel partners,” Holstein said. “Many have just sold PCs and want to get into VDI but don’t have the expertise to do that. The barriers of entry for the VDI companies has also been very high, so it has been hard for them to make this transition. This should let them address that market segment if they know PCs and know some networking.”

“The channel is looking for alternatives to commoditized PCs, and they can take their PC knowledge and leverage it into this VDI solution with very strong profit margins,” Griffin said. “This gives the channel access to a complete hardware-software bundled solution, and that’s transformative. Compared to selling as components, bundles are so much easier. Having a hardware-software bundle will make it easier to adopt.”