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October 7, 2010

Solving the virtual desktop problem: Q&A with RES Software

CBR catches up with Klaus Besier to talk about why his firm is more than just a VDI provider and why putting it all in the cloud doesn't make the problem disappear

By Vinod

You became CEO of RES Software in April, though you were already Chairman as of last October. Some observers wondered why someone like you, who many of our readers will be familiar with of course as the man who helped SAP finally break into the American market in the 1990s [Besier grew SAP America from $50m to $1bn in revenues in less than five years], and who with Firepond had one of the most successful IPOs in the whole of the year 2000, would have chosen what’s a relatively small company as their next destination?
But when you think about the size of the market opportunity – the 500 million corporate desktops out there we can help – maybe that decision makes a little more sense.

Klaus Besier, RES Software

You may need to unpack that for us. Your company literature makes you sound like a cloud company while the name suggests you’re a security vendor, but you say you are neither? What is RES Software actually in the market to do?
I’d be glad to. We address the user workspace problem. The future of the desktop looks more and more like a very complex mix – so you have traditional workstations, thick desktops if you like, thin clients, remote terminals and virtual desktops. That’s a lot of management complexity. So what our firm, RES Software does, is give CIOs software to centrally manage all those end user personal workspaces – their unique combinations of personal desktop settings, security and administrative profile, separate from the underlying applications, systems software and hardware. Clearly this would greatly simplify IT administration, ensures compliance and of course, save money.

So it’s VDI in other words.
No, in fact VDI and virtualised desktops are part of the ‘problem’ here. Think of it more like how you’d manage all the desktops, all the laptops, including the non-virtualised as well as the virtualised, in the IT environment. Sarah needs a different set of applications and permissions than John and unless you do that centrally you will spend a lot of time – you being the helpdesk, the sysadmins, all that infrastructure team – and money you don’t really want to any more.

Isn’t this something that things like virtualisation are supposed to stop being a pain? Can’t I just put all this into the cloud, make it someone else’s problem?
Yes, but all you’re doing is pushing the problem to another location, not made the problem go away. Let me give you an example that might help?

We recently helped one of the largest further and higher education colleges in the UK, Warwickshire College, to, in a way, do just that – manage the deployment of its new desktop virtualisation environment plus help in an orderly migration to Microsoft Windows 7. That’s 3,500 desktops across 6 campuses, involving a lot of thin client, to provide a single point of control over the college’s entire combined PC and thin client estate, automating many of the admin tasks involved in the ongoing maintenance and support of its desktop computing resources. Another example is our recent engagement with a firm called LeasePlan, the world’s largest automotive leasing company, to centralise all its desktop management to give staff highly secure, context-aware and personalised workspaces. That’s a new centralised IT infrastructure running Citrix XenApp and Microsoft App-V.

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If this is all such a great idea, why are there no big players in the space? I’ve seen a list of very niche companies that I’ve never heard of listed in some of your collateral as competition.
One of the first questions in my own mind when I was offered the chance to work with RES and help it grow to the next stage was just that – I agree that it’s only really competition, the presence of multiple companies, that proves that there is a reality there. I do have to say I was soon convinced there is a market here, though yes some of the players are point solutions. I would also point to the fact that this market is only now really kicking into higher gear – our company was founded in 1999, for instance, grew well organically but in under a year has won over a lot of fresh VC funding, like our April 2010 €4.7m investment from a Netherlands investor called Gimv. The fact that we have 3,000 customers and over 1 million licence sales also helped convince me that this is a real problem and a real opportunity to build a major company, too.

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