Liquidware sees pure Desktop-as-a-Service beginning to emerge

Liquidware sells entirely through channel partners, and uses a relatively small value channel because of their enterprise focus. Their solution works in any desktop environment, however, so they are on the lookout for potential new partners at Microsoft events.

Stratusphere UX, version 6.0

Liquidware and its channel partners are seeing growing momentum in the cloud-based Desktop-as-a Service market. While it still lags the VDI market in maturity, the technology infrastructure which facilitates it has made great strides, and that is leading to growing adoption in specific markets, and expectations of continued steady, if unspectacular growth.

Liquidware makes three separate Workspace Environment Management solutions, sold separately or as a suite, and on a platform agnostic-basis. The company was founded in 2009, with its name referring to the ability to make a more fluid, dynamics desktop. Its two founders had previously separately founded Vizioncore [Sold to Quest] and been a partner at FOEDUS [sold to VMware].

“We wanted to start a company that would help channel partners onboard new users onto virtual desktops,” said Jason E. Smith, Liquidware’s VP, Product Marketing. “The question was whether to build or buy the original technology.” They decided to acquire two companies. These made the Stratusphere UX user experience monitoring and diagnostics solution, and ProfileUnity, which provides policy management, app management and profile management.

Jason E. Smith, Liquidware’s VP, Product Marketing

“We quickly realized the entire stack could be used across any desktop – physical as well,” Smith said. “Even though our core mission is still virtual desktops, this broad applicability fits into a big channel angle, because it gives our partners and end customers a support path to move forward to any desktops and lets partners do a broad range of assessments.”

The most recent version of Stratusphere UX, version 6.0, was released a month ago, and has major architectural enhancements to increase scalability with less hardware. It also responds to customer requests by adding performance management options inside of Stratusphere.

The third Liquidware solution is FlexApp, which was originally part of ProfileUnity, and which provides application layering for Windows desktops.

“FlexApp provides the ability to assess and manage users, and ensure the user experience,” Smith said.

The vendor-agnostic nature of Liquidware’s solutions means that they are a strong partner of Citrix – whose Summit event they are attending this week. However they are also have strong partnerships with  VMware and AWS, and are partnered with smaller vendors like IndependenceIT as well.

“We were once closer to VMware than to Citrix,” Smith said. “We do compete to some degree with our platform partners as they acquired tools. VMware once had a more immature solution here than Citrix, which they addressed through acquisition. Now we consider ourselves great partners with all of them. We are specialists in the workspace management market, and our message to end users is to think of workspace management at a higher level, and don’t limit to yourself to the vendor tools

“Our unique value proposition is that we can take message to both partners and customers that their workspace environment will work fluidly with us,” Smith added. “I hesitate to call our solutions tools. We have moved beyond that with our solution stack. They provide an umbrella that gives end users confidence they have a fluid desktop.”

From day one, Liquidware has been a partner-focused company, and they sell entirely through channel partners. They have much more of a value model, with a select number of partners, however.

“We find ourselves in the value channel, because we cater to the enterprise market, with a sweet spot of 1000 desktops or more,” Smith said, “If someone wants to buy 500 desktops from us, we don’t turn them away, but our focus is on larger organizations. While we have a narrow channel focus today, we would like to grow it in the broader desktop model a little more, because everything we have runs across any desktop, not matter how you deliver it. As a result, you will see us at more Microsoft shows this year.”

Smith said Liquidware is very optimistic about the growth of the Desktop-as-a-Service market, which they see as similar to the growth of VDI.

“For years everyone predicted a big spike in VDI expansion and it never happened, but what you had instead was a decade of slow and gradual adoption,” he said. “After a decade of this, it effectively ramped up over time, rather than through a big spike.”

Smith said that Desktop-as-a-Service is on the same parallel growth track as VDI, but several years behind.

“We see DaaS as where where VDI was in 2010 or 2011 in terms of adoption,” Smith said. “Today, we see DaaS adoption mainly in the low-hanging fruit, the easily virtualized areas, like call centres. It’s very much a task worker area rather than knowledge workers. But that was once the case in VDI too, and now the knowledge worker IS appearing in VDI. That’s going to happen in DaaS as well.”

A major accelerant to Desktop-as-Service growth is likely to be the growing maturity of the technology surrounding it, particularly compared to the early days of VDI.

“It is now surrounded with reliable high-bandwidth connections, something that we didn’t see back in 2009 with VDI,” Smith said. ‘Fault-tolerant connections are much stronger, and are now built-in. Storage is also a big game-changer for DaaS. We used to rely on a piecemeal approach, where we would have to have connections back to some piecemeal storage or to on-prem. All these things have really matured in the last year. As a result, we are starting to see pure Desktop-as-a-Service emerge without the need for these supporting connections.

Smith said that they are already seeing strong signs of market momentum around this pure DaaS in early 2018.

“We will see more significant emergence of pure DaaS, and will see bigger and bigger deals in that area,” he said. “AWS Workspaces is getting some significant traction there. We are doing joint products with them through our partner community.”