The “cloud” continues to manifest itself in a very wide range of incarnations and use cases. Specialty clouds in the form of [whatever]-as-a-service address special purpose needs. For example, Los Angeles-based dinCloud plays in the desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) arena as part of its larger focus on hosted workspaces and cloud infrastructure services.

Hosted Workspaces: Offering VDI as DaaS

In essence, DaaS is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) hosted as a cloud service. DaaS has found its greatest success in small to medium businesses (SMBs) so dinCloud targets the mid-market of say 100 to 700 users where the IT staff is typically very small, but the targeted businesses have to have the same requirements as much larger organizations.

With VDI, a desktop operating system is hosted on a virtual machine (VM) that runs on a centralized server where all processes, applications and data reside and run. The primary benefits for customers are in reduced administrative burdens as trying to upgrade, provision and manage a large number of devices — not only desktops, but other devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) world — can be a real headache.

The challenges that face VDI from an IT perspective are maintaining security, avoiding downtime, and the general complexities and high initial costs of VDI purchase and deployment. In contrast to on-premises offerings, a cloud-hosted VDI solution can provide the necessary security, high levels of uptime and greatly reduce complexity, while at the same time providing economic benefits.

A roll-your-own VDI infrastructure also tends to be CAPEX (capital expense) heavy whereas a DaaS solution contained within a hosted workspaces cloud is OPEX (operating expense) friendly, with a monthly subscription fee per user model. Organizations can thus easily plan their monthly expenses and alter them to account for unexpected changes in headcount which is always desirable.

In its hosted workspaces model, dinCloud includes not only DaaS per se, but also the data and the applications — most notably Microsoft applications, such as Office 365 (which is also subscription-based). But dinCloud does not stop there as it wants to further leverage its cloud-based environments to offer more services to its hosted workspaces customers, as well as provide potential services to non-DaaS customers. It does so under the label of cloud infrastructure, including dinServer (hosted virtual server) and dinSQL (SQL database-as-a-service),

Premier BPO acquires dinCloud

This ability to exploit and leverage its cloud-based services infrastructure may very well have been one of the reasons why Premier BPO acquired dinCloud in February 2018 on undisclosed terms. Clarksville. Tennessee-based Premier BPO is an outsourcing firm that provides back office processing services to businesses, such as B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) collections, billing and employee benefit processing.

Both companies target the same size customers as well as certain verticals, namely transportation and logistics, financial services and healthcare. However, a major difference between the two is in their go-to-market strategy. Premier BPO uses a direct-sale model without any partners, whereas dinCloud uses a channel model with about 200 hundred value-added resellers (VARs) and managed-service providers (MSPs). This should not be a major issue, however, as the new CEO of dinCloud, Mark Briggs, (who is also CEO of Premier BPO) has an extensive channel background.

The announced strategy is to continue within their respective areas of specialization, but with the plans to provide a broader portfolio over time that evolves from [whatever]-as-a-service to [everything]-as-a-service. This will result in challenges to the combined companies, but don’t count them out in being able to fully leverage and further extend Premier BPO’s business processing outsourcing expertise in concert with dinCloud’s cloud infrastructures experience.

How dinCloud can compete with the big boys

The broader scope of services and the increased scale should serve dinCloud in good stead when competing with three large companies with DaaS offerings: Amazon WorkSpaces, Citrix XenDeskstop and VMware Horizon Air. These all have good company name recognition obviously, as well as relatively enormous marketing muscle. However, history has shown that smaller, nimbler competitors that target niche markets can often effectively compete with larger companies, especially in the SMB space. Having more IT services available to it in conjunction with Premier BPO may help dinCloud get into the bidding discussion with more companies.

Mesabi musings

For most companies, interacting both internally and externally through personal computing devices either in a fixed position, such as a literal desktop computer, or through a mobile device, such as a laptop or tablet, is a way of life. However, building, implementing, maintaining and running the necessary IT infrastructure to provide the consistent levels of services to a large pool of users can be a major challenge. That’s especially true for smaller businesses and their nearly non-existent IT staff. Enter dinCloud with DaaS that eases that burden while at the same time providing the required service levels. Plus, as part of Premier BPO, dinCloud should be able to offer even more in the way of services. Small to mid-sized companies should pay close attention.