The margins on DaaS desktops are already razor thin for many providers, which they compensate for with volume. But as the amount of compute power we have rises, density (or the number of desktops we can run on a given amount of hardware for a similiar price) also increases. This could mean more margin per desktop for the provider, but it could also mean that the providers can deliver desktops so cheaply that they could almost be given away.
Ok, so no business is going to just give desktops away—there has to be something in it for them. So what if Amazon or Microsoft, for instance, used “free” desktops as a way to draw in customers looking to move other services to the cloud. As an example, Microsoft could say “Use Office 365 along with Exchange, plus use two of our other offerings, and we’ll give you Azure RemoteApp for the rest of your applications for free.”
In a way, this is like renting a venue for a conference or wedding reception. For a show like BriForum, we don’t pay to rent space, we pay to buy food and coffee. And if we buy enough food and coffee, the rooms are “free.”
The incentive for the providers is to get companies to buy into a cloud platform, and if offering pissy little Windows workloads for nothing is enough to get organizations to move their infrastructure and platform services to the cloud, that model just might make sense. Sure, the world tries to resist lock-in, but how many of you went out and bought that VDI solution that works with all the hypervisors and all the protocols and all the thin clients? You know the one…
...oh right. We’re locked in.
Frankly, in a move to the cloud who wants to spread their IT services across multiple platforms or service providers? Think of all the management consoles! Lock-in is just part of the game, and it has been for years. Microsoft, Amazon, VMware, Google, Citrix, and others could do this or something like it to incentivize people to join their platform.
From a customer’s perspective, there are still so many physical Windows desktops that it’s probably not likely to happen today, but think about what happens as more of our critical applications move towards cloud services (or at least move away from being native Windows apps). Solutions like Azure RemoteApp become more appealing, and if you can get it for free by buying into the whole stack as part of your cloud migration, what’s the harm?