IndependenceIT's Cloud Workspace bringing DaaS to MSPs, VARs

MSPs and VARs have a new DaaS platform to consider: independenceIT's Cloud Workspace, which enables virtualization of desktops and 250 applications.

Atlantic, Tomorrows Office, a New York City-based technology provider, offers products and services ranging from imaging to infrastructure, design, build and managed services. It recently added Cloud Workspace from independenceIT to its portfolio.

"We like to stay ahead of the technology curve, and there are customers who don't want to see, touch or feel their IT solutions, and they want someone else to manage and support them. Cloud Workspace and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is an ideal product for them," said Bill McLaughlin, chief technology officer at Atlantic.

Cloud Workspace, introduced in May, is independenceIT's (iIT's) DaaS offering, a turnkey solution for the virtualization of desktops and applications, delivered from the vendor's data center. It offers access to productivity, financial, HR, industry-specific, customer relationship management and other applications, more than 250 in all.

The offering is the right strategic solution offering for a channel company like Atlantic, according to McLaughlin. "From an IT perspective, I expect that cloud services will, over the next 36 to 48 months, make up about 40% of our business, the other 60% being premises-based," said McLaughlin. "Beyond that, I expect our cloud-to-premises ratio of business to end up as a 70:30 split."

According to Jim Lippie, executive vice president of business development at iIT, located in Allentown, Pa., the company has signed up about 100 partners, about 40 pure-play managed service providers (MSPs), and the rest a mix of VARs and telecom companies. IIT's go-to-market strategy is 100% channel-driven.

Partners can consume Cloud Workspace either as a private-labeled "as a service" offering based on per-user, per-month pricing -- which is getting the most traction from partners -- or they can run the Cloud Workspace business productivity platform in their own data center.

Like Atlantic, Connecting Point, an MSP and cloud service provider located in Greeley, Colo., in business since 1985, uses Cloud Workspace.

"We're excited about our partnership with iIT. We were looking for a Platform-as-a-Service offering, and Cloud Workspace is that full platform of services, desktop, software, backup -- everything cloud-based -- and it can run [virtual desktop infrastructure] on any device in a small footprint," said Shawn Hanselman, vice president of operations at Connecting Point.

The partner's customer base consists of tech-savvy SMBs that are hungry for the cloud. "They're pushing us to move quickly in the cloud market to the point where we lead with cloud when working with customers. On-premises is our plan B," Hanselman said.

Hanselman said he not only appreciates iIT's channel strategy -- noting that the vendor makes it easy to sign up, and for a fee offers on-site sales and technical training, engineering support and access to product support when needed -- but also vets numerous applications so that he knows up front which customer applications are supported and will provide a good customer experience.

While iIT might be a new vendor, the company's roots go back to 1996 as a network integration company. It developed a business software suite for internal use with its customers, and over the past decade has fine-tuned the cloud desktop platform.

"Our secret sauce is our playbook, which allows us to take any application and make it work in a cloud environment. We've been doing this since 1999," said iIt's executive vice president of corporate development, Seth Bostock.

As for working with a vendor that's new to partnering with the channel, both McLaughlin and Hanselman are at ease. "We did our due diligence and worked on it for three months, including bringing in legal counsel. We looked at several other companies, but we're comfortable with iIT's staff, credentials and experience," McLaughlin said.

Hanselman likes the fact that iIT is 100% indirect, so there's no threat of competition from the vendor, he said. And, he said, he's "tired of being nickel-and-dimed by vendors. With iIT, there's two-factor pricing: number of users and amount of data -- that's it. We know what we're dealing with."

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