By Jeff Fisher, VP of Business Development

When Microsoft outlined their vision for the cloud a few years ago, they coined the term “Software + Services” (S+S). This moniker was chosen because, at the time, Software as a Service (SaaS) was all the rage and the discussion about “the cloud” was just starting to emerge. Fast forward to today and the conversion has shifted almost completely to cloud speak, with very few referencing SaaS anymore. Microsoft, however, still holds true to its S+S strategy.

RES Software supports the Microsoft vision and strategy for the cloud and believes strongly that when it comes to desktops, most organizations will adopt an S+S approach. This flies in the face of many who believe that the future of the desktop is in the cloud — that is, some sort of hosted desktop where complete desktop sessions run in the cloud. What we continue to see in terms of market acceptance, however, are rich PCs that are augmented with different cloud services. Think about web conferencing, as an early example. Companies have been using services like Microsoft LiveMeeting for nearly a decade to share content on Internet-connected rich endpoints. Since then, more and more S+S cloud offerings have come to market, including many for IT management. For example, freemium, cloud-serviced products have completely transformed the antivirus market in only a few short years.

While there will certainly be a place in the market for cloud-hosted desktop models (and RES solutions will provide value add to both service providers and end-customers in those environments), we believe the larger opportunity is to design and implement cloud-hosted services that can manage rich endpoints in a lightweight yet effective way. The Microsoft announcement about the general availability of Windows Intune here at MMS 2011 is a perfect example of this. Microsoft hosts the backend infrastructure on behalf of customers, offering pieces of functionality previously only available in on-premises offerings like System Center Configuration Manager, Operations Manager and Forefront Endpoint Security. They do this in a multi-tenant model and with management consoles that are available through a web browser. I think about this as the next generation of “SaaS for IT”. Just as successful services like mail and web filtering have successfully migrated off-premises, desktop management software is destined to move to the cloud.

We at RES Software are already planning for this future and have started to outline what cloud-based Workspace and Automation Management service offerings might look like. We are investing heavily in efforts to transform the architecture of our products to support these cloud models. For example, our flagship Workspace Manager product has supported SQL Azure as an option for storing configuration and policy data for more than a year. In the near future, we plan to add an option that will allow user data to live on Azure storage, further continuing the journey of workspace management to the cloud.

Eventually, we believe that value-added service providers (of all sizes) could host and offer workspace management as a service, as an example, to their customer base. Many of these vendors have already migrated much of their smaller clients data center infrastructure to either their own data centers or to those of third-party cloud providers. Instead of trying to move their customers’ entire desktops into those same data centers, why not leverage a lightweight service (like Intune) to enhance their desktop management infrastructure? Such an RES-enabled service could be delivered through a subscription pricing model that would also help lower the cost of entry for many who would benefit from workspace management.

As Vice President of Business Development, Jeff Fisher is responsible for developing key business relationships and revenue opportunities to fuel continued, global growth for RES Software. He plays a critical role in developing the company’s long term global growth strategy as well as solidifying its presence in key regions, such as the United States. Jeff brings to RES Software more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning and market development, technical selling and alliance formation in the infrastructure software market.