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Workspot belongs in the second tier of VDI platforms

Workspot's VDI 2.0 platform puts it squarely in the desktop virtualization market game. The company has come a long way since its early days.

Workspot comfortably fits into the tier of VDI platforms that currently contains Parallels and Ericom, and it has some unique features that really set the company apart.

If you haven't heard of Workspot, you're probably not alone. But after talking to the company at VMworld 2016, it's clear it belongs among the second tier of VDI platforms, which is basically anything that isn't from Citrix or VMware. (There is a third tier, but we don't talk much about them.)

Workspot started as a mobility company. It made an application that acted as a container and presented a single workspace for end users to do their jobs. It had support for enterprise file sync and share, document viewers, email and secure browsing, all governed by a set of policies. IT could centrally manage the container itself, and delete it in the event of a device being lost or stolen, or if an employee no longer worked for the organization.

VDI 2.0 in a way represents the second version of the company.

It was a good plan, but Workspot kind of got lost in the noise of the enterprise mobility world. It decided not to pivot, but to expand into desktop virtualization. With several key hires from VMware and Citrix, Workspot added a cloud-managed VDI platform to its product line. That's where our story begins.

VDI 2.0 = Workspot 2.0

Workspot's VDI product, VDI 2.0, in a way represents the second version of the company. It calls the product VDI 2.0 because while the end result might be the same -- users accessing virtual desktops -- it had the luxury of building a platform from the ground up in modern times rather than dragging VDI platforms that have been around for more than 20 years into the cloud. Workspot started with a cloud management plane that could manage desktop resources on premises or in the cloud -- or both.

The cloud management plane acts as the license server, load balancer, configuration console, broker, monitoring platform, database and web portal, leaving only the desktop hosting infrastructure to the IT department. If you want to build your own infrastructure, you can, but you can also take that off your plate by connecting VDI 2.0 to other cloud providers and letting them handle the desktop hosting.

Workspot uses the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)/RemoteFX, which in the past might have been a roadblock to adoption for many companies. Today, RDP and RemoteFX are acceptable remoting protocols for most virtual desktop use cases due to the work Microsoft has put into them. Because Workspot uses RDP, admins can repurpose any thin client that has an RDP client installed on it to work with the software. That makes a transition between VDI platforms much easier to swallow.

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One important thing to understand about Workspot is that when it moved into VDI, it didn't abandon the original product. So, in addition to an easy-to-implement VDI platform, it also offers a corporate-managed container from which users can access their desktops, documents, web apps and other information. The container is secure, and since IT can provision and deprovision it centrally, it means it can support BYOD scenarios.

Workspot is focusing its efforts on customers that run older versions of Citrix XenApp that have let their Subscription Advantage license expire. Those organizations face a decision: Do they do a forklift migration to a new VDI platform, or keep running things the old way? It's not a new angle; it's basically the same target market that every other tier-two VDI vendor shoots for, but there are many thousands of customers in this situation. There is plenty of opportunity to go around.

Earlier this year I wrote about who could take Dell's place as the number three vendor after vWorkspace shut down. Workspot certainly deserves a place on that list alongside Ericom, Parallels, LeoStream and others. If you're in the same situation as many companies out there --facing a forklift migration from an old version of XenApp or having to replace vWorkspace -- give Workspot a shot.

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This was last published in September 2016

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