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WVD to spark demand for consulting, implementation services

Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop offering is poised to boost partner business as it opens opportunities in the desktop-as-a-service market; other news from the week.

The general availability of Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop will spark channel partner business, with consulting and implementation support among the likely opportunities.

That's the assessment of channel executives following the Sept. 30 launch of WVD, which has been in public preview mode since March. The virtual desktop offering runs on Microsoft's Azure cloud, provides access to Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session OS and may, over time, supersede on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure deployments. WVD also offers a newer, cloud-centric alternative to Remote Desktop Services, Microsoft's long-standing solution for providing virtual desktops. RDS may be deployed on premises or on Azure.

"WVD is going to be the next big thing for Microsoft, and represents their latest milestone announcement," said Bruno Lecoq, CISO at BeMo, a managed service provider (MSP) based in Las Vegas. BeMo specializes in office productivity and cybersecurity offerings built on Office 365 and Azure.

"I worked at Microsoft back in 1990 when Windows 3.1 launched," Lecoq said. "And now there is a very similar feeling with the launch of WVD in terms of excitement and anticipated adoption."

MSPs to get deployment, consulting work

"Managed service providers stand to benefit from WVD by helping their customers deploy, manage and optimize the offering" to suit specific customer needs, added Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO of Nerdio.

Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO at NerdioVadim Vladimirskiy

The Chicago-based company offers an Azure IT automation platform, Nerdio for Azure, that lets MSPs deploy WVD. Nerdio is a one of several Microsoft WVD partners, which offer turnkey desktop as a service (DaaS) offerings or additional capabilities around WVD.

Henning Volkmer, president and CEO at ThinPrint, a Berlin-based company and WVD partner, also noted the wide range of services partners can offer in conjunction with WVD. Those services begin with consulting -- explaining to customers how WVD works and finding the right setup for each customer -- and continue through implementation. The latter service supports customers lacking "deep know-how of Azure, PowerShell and desktop virtualization," Volkmer noted.

Providing WVD add-ons is another channel opportunity. ThinPrint, for example, sells a printing offering for Azure-hosted Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session desktops.

Partners can also avail themselves of enablement offerings from vendors such as Nerdio.

"The reason that we work with Nerdio is that they have made it very easy to deploy WVD through their Azure automation platform," Lecoq said.

Many of BeMo's SMB customers lack dedicated IT departments that could help them deploy new technologies such as WVD, Lecoq said. Nerdio's admin portal, however, handles the deployment process within two hours, so customers can be ready to take advantage of WVD, he explained.

Broader implications

Microsoft's latest virtual desktop foray, however, stands to have implications for the broader DaaS market.

WVD is going to be the next big thing for Microsoft, and represents their latest milestone announcement.
Bruno LecoqCISO, BeMo

"We believe that WVD will drastically expand the interest in remote desktops and applications far beyond what we have seen in the past," Volkmer said. "While it's possible that there is a shift from VDI to DaaS for those already in the VDI space, we are mostly excited about an influx of new customers that haven't considered virtualizing applications or desktops."

WVD "validates the DaaS opportunity for MSPs and signals the future of VDI for the industry at large," noted Ubaldo Don, CTO and co-founder of Itopia. The company offers technology that enables DaaS on Google Cloud Platform.

"As a competitive solution ... we're glad to see WVD validating our space for accelerating the migration of legacy VDI workloads to the cloud," he added.

WVD adoption outlook

As for adoption, WVD may take a while to become a mass-market item.

"As it is with every new technology that comes to market, some companies will be hesitant to adopt right away," Lecoq said. "Some of our clients are lining up to try WVD, but others will want to wait a year or so to observe and warm up to the transition."

That said, Lecoq believes adoption will pick up significantly over the next year and, in the years following, "everyone using Azure or virtual desktops will be using WVD."

Earlier adopters may include organizations in vertical markets such as accounting, finance and legal, he said. He said schools will also be prime candidates for WVD since most of them use a mix of Windows laptops and Apple iPads.

Partners upbeat on Oracle's cloud moves

Oracle's latest moves have given channel partners an upbeat outlook on the vendor's overall cloud strategy.

At OpenWorld 2019 conference last month, Oracle unveiled a variety a cloud-related offerings and initiatives. Many of these developments appeared aimed to bridge the gap between Oracle and its competitors in the public cloud market.

Ryan Etinson, CEO Americas at Syntax, a Montreal-based managed cloud provider, said OpenWorld 2019's focus on cloud technologies made the event unlike any of the OpenWorld conferences he previously attended.

The conference's cloud-driven discussions synced up well with Oracle customers' main concerns, Etinson said. Whereas in the past, customers cared most about ERP functionality, "now they are really looking at how best to deploy these applications at the lowest cost possible, lowest labor costs" and so forth. He noted that customers want to educate themselves on the differences between AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), as well as private, public and hybrid clouds. "This is top of mind for many CIOs that we are meeting with."

Etinson added that in recent years he has seen a major shift in customers' attitudes about moving mission-critical applications such as ERP to public cloud. While customers remain biased toward using private cloud, "every day that needle is moving more over to public cloud," he said.

John Schmottlach, senior vice president of delivery at Apps Associates, an IT and services provider based in Acton, Mass., said one of OpenWorld 2019's most significant announcements was Oracle's expanded partnership with VMware. Under the alliance, Oracle said customers will be able to deploy VMware Cloud Foundation on OCI.

"I think the biggest takeaway from OpenWorld for me has been the talk about Oracle expanding [its] cloud partnerships. This is a bit of a shift in direction for Oracle that started with the Microsoft partnership, but is now including the VMware pieces," Schmottlach said.

Oracle's focus on teaming up with competitors supports the growing trend of customers adopting multi-cloud strategies, he said. "I think [it] is a very positive direction for Oracle to be moving in, because it reflects the reality behind how customers are actually deploying cloud solutions."

Etinson agreed that the expanded Oracle-VMware alliance presents compelling opportunities for partners and their customers. He noted the partnership could potentially eliminate licensing issues for customers that want to migrate environments to AWS.

"It would allow customers to have more choices," Etinson said.

Oracle partner program revamp underway

Oracle, meanwhile, is currently in the process of overhauling its partner program. Schmottlach said App Associates has been working closely with Oracle on the redesign. Among the changes, Oracle plans to roll out an auditing and certification program similar to AWS' to validate partners' service delivery capabilities, Schmottlach said. "We see that as a very positive thing," he added.

Investment dollars find their way to the channel

Vendors are spending money on their channel partner initiatives.

SnapLogic, an application and data integration platform provider, raised $72 million in growth financing. A spokesperson at SnapLogic said the new funds will help the vendor push into new international markets with channel partners playing a critical role.

Data protection vendor Acronis revealed it has invested $10 million into its service provider incentive program. Between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31, the company said partners that sign up a cloud service provider contract will receive three to six months of free usage. Acronis said it also plans this quarter to roll out a program for educating traditional resellers on transitioning into MSPs.

ReFirm Labs, an IT security startup, will invest a portion of $2 million funding it closed this week on its channel program, according to a company spokesperson. The spokesperson noted that ReFirm Labs is looking to recruit partners and has alliances today with 10 to 15 MSPs and systems integrators. The company launched its Certified Partner Program in May.

Channel partner programs debut

This week's partner program launches cover a range of vendors from automation vendors to AI developers.

Resolve Systems, an IT automation and orchestration platform provider, launched a global partner program. The company said it aims to "provide more routes to market" for distributors and value-added resellers (VARs), while also creating new service opportunities for MSPs, systems integrators and consulting partners. Resolve appointed Russell Eddleman as vice president of global channel and alliances.

The channel program encompasses partner incentives, sales and marketing resources, market development funds, training and certifications. The program also provides a dedicated channel team and a partner portal.

Smartsheet, a collaboration and work management technology vendor in Bellevue, Wash., unveiled its Smartsheet Aligned partner program. The program includes a channel account team, financial incentives, sales and technical training, marketing support and a partner portal, according to the company [Disclosure: TechTarget's editorial staff uses Smartsheet].

FrontdeskAI, a developer of AI assistants based in Palo Alto, Calif., is rolling out a partner program for SaaS companies. The program lets SaaS partners add FrontdeskAI's assistants into their business management platforms. The program, which launched last month, has gained traction in the wellness industry, the company reported. FrontdeskAI plans to approach vertical markets such as retail services and healthcare providers in 2020.

Security vendors tap channel partners

Segasec, a cybersecurity software and managed service company based in Tel Aviv, is enlisting partners to help secure beta customers for its offerings that focus on protecting organizations and consumers from fraud and phishing attacks. The company recently unveiled an early detection feature that lets its software flag potential account takeovers without tipping off the attackers, according to Segasec.

The company's larger enterprise customers tap Segasec to reduce the cost of adding such capabilities, while smaller companies use Segasec's managed service "because they are not able to add the talent and skill set internally," Segasec CEO Elad Schulman said.

In network security, Opaq, a cybersecurity company based in Herndon, Va., is partnering with property and casualty insurer CNA to provide a cybersecurity offering that lets CNA's cyberinsurance policyholders deploy and enforce security policy across wide-area networks. Opaq's cloud-based security offerings are sold exclusively through channel partners.

WatchGuard, a network security vendor based in Seattle, has launched a user-centric security bundle that the company said simplifies delivery for channel partners. The company's newly launched DNSWatchGO, which provides DNS-level protection and content filtering, is included in the Passport security bundle along with AuthPoint, WatchGuard's multifactor authentication offering.

And Avast released a new cloud-based security management product, Avast Business Secure Internet Gateway, for managed security service providers and SMB customers.

Leading businesses buy into AI, consumers not so much

Accenture's newly published Future Systems study reports the organizations the consulting firm defines as leaders are adopting AI at a rate of 98%, while 42% of the laggards are taking on the technology. Accenture's survey of 8,300 organizations rate companies according to technology adoption, depth of technology adoption and organization and cultural readiness.

CGS, meanwhile, an outsourcing and business application provider based in New York, found the vast majority of the consumers surveyed would rather get help from a human than AI-based chatbots. Eighty-six percent of the more than 1,000 U.S. consumers polled in CGS' Customer Service Chatbots & Channels Survey said they "prefer to interact with a human agent."

In addition, 71% of the respondents said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn't have a human customer service rep on hand, while fewer than a third believe chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to handle customer service queries.

Other news

  • Automation Anywhere, a robotic process automation vendor based in San Jose, Calif., took the wraps off Enterprise A2019, which it described as a web-based, cloud-native digital workforce platform. The company said users can log in via browser to build bots that can run on operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Users can also take advantage of built-in AI capabilities and integrate third-party AI offerings, according to the company. Automation Anywhere's partners include Accenture, Cognizant, Deloitte, Infosys and Wipro.
  • MSP software vendor Continuum said it introduced new automation features to its remote monitoring and management software, Continuum Command. Additionally, the company bolstered its Fortify cybersecurity software with managed detection and response capabilities from security vendor Fortinet. MSPs can also tap a new offering, Fortify for the MSP, for internal security, Continuum said.
  • Accenture has agreed to acquire Nytec Inc., a Kirkland, Wash., product innovation and engineering company.
  • InterVision, an IT service provider, has acquired Fotis Networks, a Boston company that provides IT professional services and consulting. Fotis specializes in enterprise infrastructure and security, cloud computing, information assurance and compliance, cybersecurity assessment and disaster recovery, among other areas. The Fotis deal marks the sixth acquisition InterVision completed over the past three years. InterVision has regional headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis.
  • Peak-Ryzex Inc., a supply chain and mobile workforce solutions provider in Columbia, Md., has launched Print Perform, a managed print The service includes printing consultation, supplies, laser printers and multifunction printers, monitoring and reporting software, and on-site service and repair.
  • Unified Office Inc., an MSP based in Nashua, N.H., launched a food safety service for restaurants. The service incorporates components of the company's Total Connect Now business communications platform. For example, the service uses Total Connect Now's Operations Performance Suite to monitor refrigeration, fan exhaust emissions, prep table temperatures and door sensors among other elements that contribute to food safety compliance, according to Unified Office.
  • Skillsoft, a corporate learning provider, has expanded its channel partner roster to include SumTotal, SAP SuccessFactors, AWS, Korn Ferry, Cornerstone, Saba, IBM and Tata Consultancy Services.
  • Distributor Telecom Brokerage Inc. added unified-communications-as-a-service provider Jive to its portfolio of vendors.
  • Distributor Tech Data signed a deal with endpoint security vendor Carbon Black to provide its portfolio to its North American partners.
  • Cloud distributor Pax8 inked a deal with Nuvolex to offer its ManageX platform for MSPs. ManageX provides multi-tenant management of Office 365 and Azure.
  • Lifeboat Distribution, based in Eatontown, N.J., has inked a distribution deal with Freshworks, a vendor of customer engagement software.
  • D&H Distributing has moved its headquarters to a new location in Harrisburg, Pa., a 50-acre campus with more than 240,000 square feet of office space. The distributor recently expanded its cloud offerings.
  • Workspace-as-a-service provider CloudJumper named Paul Finn as its vice president of sales. Prior to joining CloudJumper, Finn served as regional sales manager at IGEL Technology.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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