Toshiba's Cloud and Solutions Division is launching a hosted Virtual Desktop Service for MSPs (managed services providers) and IT administrators. The service, set to debut in early Q4 2013, will run in Toshiba's data centers with support for VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop. This is the latest in a growing list of hosted desktop offerings targeting the IT channel.

According to Toshiba, the service offers:

  • Central desktop management: provides an easy-to-use dashboard interface for IT administrators and MSPs
  • Data Isolation: maintains a distinction between business and personal data
  • Data security: offers powerful identity and access management across all devices
  • Control: enables corporate IT control over devices from a central location

In addition to supporting VMware and Citrix DaaS solutions, Toshiba says the service depends on its own home-grown software called Toshiba Desktop Manager Software. Desktop Manager provides IT Administrators and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) a single interface for managing all of their virtual desktops, whether based on Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View. MSPs will use Desktop Manager to provide desktop administration services in their customers’ Toshiba VDS environments, enhancing their efficiency. Toshiba VDS offers customers a choice of Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View, the company said. 

Toshiba expects the VDI service to meet the needs of businesses trying to manage BYOD (bring your own device) realities plus Windows XP migrations amid Microsoft's end of life deadline (April 8, 2014).

Toshiba did not disclose pricing plans for channel partners. 

A growing list of desktop as a service (DaaS) companies specifically targets the IT channel. Two examples: independenceIT is a pure channel company led by former MSP Jim Lippie; and EmeCloud recently hired Zenith Infotech veteran Maurice Saluan to lead a DaaS push into the channel. And don't forget: Microsoft's own hosted Windows desktop service, running on Windows Azure, apparently is under development.

A growing number of VARs and MSPs certainly are taking a look at the DaaS market. But in some cases, channel partners are still trying to figure out how to price, brand and manage the service while also navigating potential licensing questions. Companies like independenceIT, EmeCloud and Toshiba hope to (A) shield partners from many of those complexities and/or (B) educate partners on how to go to market.