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Efficient selling of graphics- and compute-intensive applications with cloud-based desktops

Posted by Daan Moreels on Nov 13, 2015
Daan Moreels
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Software vendors and distributors of graphics- and compute-intensive software can greatly enhance their sales operations if they don’t have to worry about end-user IT. Imagine the advantage to an engineer from a prospective company who can instantly start using the pre-installed software on a virtual machine, automatically deployed via the internet.

Example of a deployment of GIS software via the cloud. Vendors and distributors of GPU-intensive software are looking for new ways to efficiently deliver the end-user community. By using GPU-powered cloud desktops, they can include pre-installed applications (such as GIS or CAD). Without any risk, sales organizations can deploy the cloud desktops for demoing and training purposes, including the Apps. This allows end-users to test it anywhere, on any device.


How software vendors sell their software

Many ISVs (Independent Software Vendors such as ESRI, Autodesk, etc…) work with distributors to sell software and services. These distributors offer added-value to end-users which includes delivery of workstations, programming, hardware implementation and business integration services.The Information Technology (IT) component; delivery of workstations, keeping these up-to-date, compatible, version controlled, upgraded, updated etc. can currently be seen as the limiting factor for quicker innovation on both end-user as supplier side. What’s more; this is also not the favorite job of the reseller who, just like the end-user, prefers to focus on the application side and not on the bits and bytes.


The clash with company IT

End-users simply don’t like, or are not allowed, to makes changes to corporate IT or mix it with systems as GIS, Process Control, PLM, etc. This means if an engineer who seeks support for a quick tryout of an application, a proof of concept, needs to execute a very CPU/GPU graphic intensive operation or has an idea for an optimization, cannot make a case. The answer in many cases is something like this: “Sorry, not supported”, “No IT resources available”, “Too risky”, “Takes too much time to setup” etc.. so it does not happen. So long the innovative idea, thrown into the bin.

This is also a problem for the sales organization. Graphics- or compute intensive applications need big workstations to run smoothly. If a software vendor or distributor wants to quickly showcase something, needs to give training, do the data modelling development or pre-deployment testing, they or the customer/prospect needs to come up and maintain a bunch of heavy-duty IT infrastructure.


Where cloud computing comes in

Information Technology however is changing rapidly into the direction of cloud computing. This basically means that in the future, everything shall be delivered via subscription models, just like electricity. For the application delivery, the same is happening; most software vendors are currently adapting their software to flexible paying models such as pay-as-you-go, pay-per-use, monthly recurring fee, etc.

The marriage between both (cloud computing and on the other side delivery of apps via the cloud) remains a challenge. Many enterprises stick to on-premise infrastructure, in many cases because they fear public cloud models or want to stay in control of their IT infrastructure.


Software as a Service (SaaS) ?

A Software as a Service offering can be a solution for many of them. In this case the application is used by simply accessing it via the browser and start. This is however is not the solution for all professional workspaces out there. Professional engineers require a combination of apps, plug-ins and connected databases to do their job so SaaS is not the answer. SaaS is also no solution when connecting with large datasets, handling multiple monitors or hybrid integration with on-premise infrastructure. What’s more; in many cases, the software needs expensive re-engineering te make it work via the cloud. You simply need a windows desktop for this kind of cases.

Many enterprises looking for alternatives, started deploying VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and faced huge investment and operational costs, extensive integration- and engineering tracks and eventually faced very limited scalability of their VDI infrastructure. Deploying VDI or VDI in the cloud, all by themselves is not an answer for most of them.


Innovation on the floor

This brings us back to the huge problem of (larger) enterprises, that usually lack innovation on the work floor; how can an engineer quickly test and prove something while he/she is fixed in an environment with strict IT policies and slow IT adoption rates? He/She needs a real workspace and SaaS is not a solution in this case. What’s more; graphics-intensive applications require a lot of computing resources such as CPU, Memory and GPU power.


Desktops and workstations from the cloud

DaaS (Desktop as a Service) or cloud desktop seems to be the most ideal way to cope with this. However, DaaS has never been very good with graphics- or compute intensive applications. A very recent evolution called GDaaS (GPU Desktop as a Service) seems to be the best way to move forward by giving the engineer access to a powerful virtual workstation to do his/her testing. GDaaS is basically GPU-accelerated cloud desktops running in private clouds and an innovative alternative for a heavy-duty workstation. Compared with traditional workstations, the look and feel does not change but the computing power, the flexibility in resources and elasticity in usage and pricing is much higher with cloud-based workstations. And If the end-user has admin rights, he/she can install windows applications just like before or combine the virtual workstations with with other SaaS.

GPU-powered cloud desktops including pre-installed applications (such as GIS or CAD) are running in datacenters. Anyone can test them, anywhere, on any device GDaaS (GPU Desktop as a Service) as deployment tool for graphics- and compute intensive software. Anywhere, on any device. This is a huge opportunity for vendors of GPU-intensive applications looking for ways to make their sales people and distributors more efficient in sales and training situations. Imagine that the software vendor or distributor receives a lead and one (1) minute later the prospect can deploy a full-blown cloud machine including all required applications and add-ons? And the end-user can use this virtual workstation on any device connected to the internet? So nobody has to worry about the current IT situation of the user?

How much more efficient would this make the sales organization of the software vendor? A lot I guess.GDaaS is a Platform which allows anyone to automatically deploy GPU-accelerated cloud desktops, including required applications and computing resources. The whole platform is managed which results in worry-free IT. So the whole IT component is outsourced and both end-user and reseller only have to focus on the application.

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