Microsoft Doubles Down with Igel as Partners Get First Linux WVD Client

By | Managed Services News

Jan 29

Partners can now use Igel’s Linux client access to Windows Virtual Desktop.

(Pictured above: Igel’s Jed Ayres on stage at Disrupt 2020 in Nashville.)

IGEL DISRUPT 2020 — Igel has released the first Linux client operating system designed to connect endpoints to Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), the new Azure cloud-based desktop as a service (DaaS) offering.

Igel OS 11.3 and higher now work with a limited preview of Microsoft’s RD Core SDK, which went live Tuesday. The release coincided with Igel’s Disrupt conference for partners and customers, taking place this week in Nashville. Igel, a German provider of thin client hardware and its Linux-based thin client OS that only sells through the channel, caught the attention of Microsoft’s WVD team about a year ago. Microsoft subsequently partnered with Igel and showcased their integration efforts in November at the Microsoft Ignite conference.

Executives at both companies believe that enterprises and commercial users will increasingly shift from traditional “thick” client PC operating system environments to cloud-based multi-session Windows DaaS, to some degree mirroring how organizations have transitioned to Office 365 and other SaaS applications.

WVD, which Microsoft released in early October following a yearlong, closely watched technical preview, is poised to kickstart the relatively flat market for virtual Windows, or VDI desktops. Igel’s Linux client can run on older hardware, or in BYOD scenarios, with UD Pocket, a USB-based flash device that automatically boots the sandboxed Igel OS. Partners are pitching the latest cloud DaaS offerings as an alternative to shifting to Windows 10 configuration and management, which has a new model than prior versions of Windows. Cloud DaaS is also a viable option for those with managed desktops and customers seeking more secure client environments.

Microsoft’s WVD is notably attractive because use rights are already included in many commercial and enterprise license agreements. There are roughly 100 million virtual workspaces today, said Igel co-CEO Jed Ayres, who  predicts that will grow 50% over the next three years. Nevertheless, that’s a small fraction of the estimated 1 billion traditional Windows desktops, many of which are on aging hardware, a significant percentage of which are still running Windows 7, now an unsupported OS.

“It’s a very big addressable market,” Ayres told attendees at this week’s conference. “There’s a big attack surface for us to help you repurpose those devices to become secure, highly manageable, high-performance devices in your virtual workspaces. And then what happens when Microsoft and Amazon get into this space? We predict that at least 50 million more seats of virtual workspace can be sold in the next few years. This market has a lot of tailwinds behind it. It’s again, very exciting.”

Ayres said Igel is the No. 3 provider of thin-client endpoints behind Dell and HP, but with revenues doubling every year, he believes Igel will surpass both players and become No. 1. Last year, Ayres said Igel partners sold 749,000 seats, up from 484,000 in 2018. Revenue doubled last year as well, totaling $150 million.

“We think we can be a billion-dollar company, and we think that looks like 10 million licenses,” Ayres said.

XenTegra's Pete Downing

XenTegra’s Pete Downing

MSPs and systems integrators attending the Igel conference are engaged in numerous proof-of-concept projects with enterprise customers who are considering WVD — typically enhanced with workspace solutions from Citrix, CloudJumper and VMware, among others.

“When it comes to the endpoint, we discuss Igel, and three out of five times it results in us creating a [proof of concept],” said Pete Downing, chief marketing and technology officer with XenTegra, an MSP and Igel partner. “We are involved in some interesting efforts around how we’re going to get better penetration into accounts and net-new whitespace, and even replacing HP and [Dell] Wyse clients that many shops now have.”

“For HP and Dell, it’s just one of many, many things they do, where Igel’s advantage is …

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