A week after OTOY announced the launch of its app-streaming platform X.IO, NaviSite, a cloud service and product vendor, is launching Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) products, powered by NVIDIA GRID. NaviSite believes the product beings “desktop virtualization for even the most intensive graphics workloads to a broader audience of end-users using engineering, design, and multimedia applications.”
Though underlying technologies, acronyms, and definitions may be different, app streaming and DaaS are driven by the recognition that consumers are open to the idea of using remotely accessible workstations, billable for usage or time. With NVIDIA Grid, NaviSite’s DaaS offers remote desktops with GPU acceleration, a characteristic that’ll be important to CAD and design software users who rely on photorealistic visuals to evaluate product aesthetics. Since most of the computing is done on the hosted hardware, users may interact with the remote machine from a lightweight tablet or PC, usually priced far less than a professional workstation.
In its announcement, NaviSite emphasizes the following:
- IT can easily and quickly provision desktop environments based on the immediate needs of the business;
- Users can store sensitive information, such as 3D product design or off-shore hi-res maps in NaviSite’s state-of-the-art SSAE 16 compliant NaviCloud data centers;
- Businesses no longer need to continually update their hardware, reducing the amount of capital expenditure required for virtual desktop deployments.
According to Sumeet Sabharwal, NaviSite GM, the DaaS products will be offered on “a usage-based monthly billing model, with the flexibility to scale up or down based on need … [with] pricing starts at $90 per desktop per month.” Sabharwal adds that the host-client connection bandwidth requirement “is entirely dependent on the specific use case that customers are leveraging and could vary between 5MB to 70MB per second bursting. NaviSite does not cap bandwidth and charges for bandwidth on a 95th percentile basis.”
With cloud-hosted products like NaviSite DaaS, users must rely on the vendor’s system to access and run the software programs; therefore, a guaranteed system up-time is often stipulated in the user agreements and contracts. Sabharwal says, “We offer a 99.9% up-time service level agreement with associated performance guarantees.”
Typically, workstation users select hardware products that are certified to run the profession design program they use (for example, a Dell Precision workstation model certified to run AutoCAD). CAD software certification for virtual machines, however, is still a murky region. Sabharwal says, “We have done independent testing and verification for all the major [CAD] packages in our lab environment already as part of the upfront engineering of our solution” and the company is “working with specific software providers to certify their software on our DaaS solution.”
NaviSite plans to showcase its DaaS solution at the upcoming VMWorld 2004 (August 24-28, San Francisco, Moscone Center).
VMWare, the company hosting the conference, also offers Horizon DaaS products, powered by NVIDIA technology. VMWare launched its offerings earlier this year in March, at the NVIDIA GTC Conference.
NaviSite is part of the Time Warner cable company. The company offers NaviCloud Desktops and NaviCloud Sessions, both in Windows OS. The cloud session is described as “non-persistent virtual desktop,” suggesting no ongoing commitment. At the present, no pricing info is available for NaviSite DaaS products.