Thursday, July 17, 2008

DaaS solves schools' Internet parity problem with help from IBM and Desktone

The Pike County, Ky., schools have solved an Internet access parity problem with a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution from IBM and Desktone. As part of a five-year agreement, IBM will provide the county's classrooms with service that gives older PCs the same Internet ability as newer models.

Not unlike many companies, the county's 25 schools purchased and replaced computer equipment on a staggered basis, meaning some classrooms had computers that were over six years old, while other classrooms had spanking-new models. This created an inequality among students that school officials felt was unacceptable.

Under the agreement with IBM, and using the Desktone DaaS software, the schools' 1,400 Internet-enabled computers will have access to the district's standard desktop image, regardless of the age of the device or whether it's a PC or a thin client. The hosted architecture will also include IBM storage, xSeries servers, and VMware software.

An added benefit of the solutions is that homebound students will be able to keep up with their coursework using home computers, and teachers who need to work from home will have access to their materials with the same security and filtering as if they were in the classroom.

Desktone burst on the scene a year ago, when it announced an infusion of venture capital funds. Since then, it's continued to make news, most recently when it announced that HP has signed on as the first member of its partner program.

The broad affection for the term "cloud computing" and all that sticks to that nowadays will mean broad affection too for desktop as a service. Desktone has its sights set on helping service providers ramp up DaaS offerings, but enterprises will be in this one too. Citrix, VMware and Microsoft will make sure they allow enterprises to do DaaS as well as the cloud providers.

I'd bank on a rich environment where a continuum of offerings develop, with myriad business models and packages of services. Most interesting will be whether the DaaS providers can mimick the traditional desktop providers as a channel for ... apps, services, ads, (craplets!), business services, as well as maintenance and support.

Hey, if it worked for the hairball, why not the cloud ball?