Making the Shift from PCs to Desktop Virtualization Simple and Affordable
By: Mudeeha Yousaf
Computers are a pivotal source of communication in today’s digital era, and when the corporate community is in constant search to save time and costs, revolutionary tools are born. Incepted in 1999, Userful is a leading desktop virtualization software company that makes it simple and affordable to implement and centrally manage virtual computers, from desktops to touch screens and beyond. The Alberta-based company has recently announced the launch of its Userful Multiplatform 7.0 desktop virtualization software, which creates the simplest, most flexible, highest performing and lowest cost VDI solution available. Userful Multiplatform 7.0 software sets up in minutes with limited IT skills, offers a simultaneous choice of Microsoft™ Windows, cloud, Linux and remote desktops and delivers exceptional performance with full HD multimedia all for just $199 per desktop, hardware and software included.
Timothy Griffin, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Userful, had hopes of inventing a ground-breaking technology that would rid the IT world of high expenses and wasting insurmountable time, and began the business with this in mind after running a web-development company. “The idea of Userful actually came from my experience at the company where we would continually have to buy and set up new PC’s. I thought ‘why can’t we just plug extra users into the same computer,’ and that was the genesis of the concept of Userful,” explains Griffin. His entrepreneurial spirit led the company to grow from a handful of installs to over 1 million virtual desktops in over 100 countries.
The traditional PC refresh cycle has become obsolete and the company promotes the usage of more modern computing solutions such as desktop virtualization. “The basic problem is that, today, organizations are taking an outdated approach to dealing with computers. They have a large number of computers that they refresh every 3-5 years which is a huge cost and maintenance burden.”
The Userful approach is to replace physical desktop computers with low-cost client devices plus desktop virtualization software and connect the solution to a central server-appliance which handles all the computing, more commonly known as desktop virtualization (VDI). Userful Multiplatform turns a standard computer into a server appliance and a single server-appliance can manage twenty or more virtual desktops with a choice of MicrosoftTM Windows, cloud, Linux and remote desktops. Desktop virtualization is often construed as complicated and expensive, though with Userful’s design, VDI can be deployed in minutes at a high-performance and lower-cost. “We now support nearly any operating system. With virtual machines, people can run any operating system they want, so it’s become quite easy to convert the traditionalists to desktop virtualization,” says Griffin. “The key things that are new and different are managing it from a browser. It’s a server-appliance approach to VDI so it’s simple. It allows you to do something innovative called ‘hybrid docking’ which works as a docking station for your laptop but also on its own.” The compelling solution is compatible with client devices from leading manufacturers like HP, Acer, ViewSonic, Thinglobal and Atrust so no proprietary hardware is needed.
It also works to reduce costs. “There are statistics that say that the actual cost of running and managing a desktop computer is somewhere in the range of $2,500-10,000 a year, so a lot of people think they’re going to buy a computer for $1,000 but it actually costs quite more to maintain it.” Being the most flexible solution on the market, the solution is being extended to many environments. No longer is VDI only meant for the large companies with big budgets and IT teams.
“System integrators and customers are amazed with the speed and responsiveness of Userful Multiplatform software. They’re used to being frustrated by the performance of other VDI products,” says Griffin. “System integrators and customers have also been very impressed with the ease of set-up. Our desktop virtualization software takes an afternoon to set-up rather than other products that can take a week or more.”
Userful deploys its software across multiple industries, including Energy, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, Call Centers, Training Centers, as well as Government and Military. “Industries have realized that Userful software is the best way to deploy a certain type of computer, which is desktop computers, where you want high-performance, low-maintenance and low-cost,” says Griffin. “Generally we’ve shied away from the small business market, but our product is now relevant for that space. Our new market opportunity is now the untapped 90% of the virtualization market in North America and globally that finds traditional VDI solutions to be too complicated and expensive. We’ve eliminated complexity and cost in desktop virtualization.”
Prominent projects for the company include working with the Ministry of Health in Ecuador as well as the Ministry of Education in Brazil, and the education sector has proven to be a “success vertical” for the firm. “In Latin America, there have been nation-wide roll-outs of our solutions in all the schools across countries, and that’s exciting because computers are going into environments where they wouldn’t have been previously, and they wouldn’t be able to afford them if they hadn’t chosen the Userful solution.”
Another significant feat for the company occurred when the Canadian Forces used Userful software to create a reliable solution to connect the military in Afghanistan with their families at home. Currently, the company is working on connecting all the school libraries in Costa Rica, and working on multiple hospitals and medical offices in Ecuador. “It’s an exciting company to get involved in because you hear these stories and you see these photos from different parts of the world, where there are things we take for granted, like a running computer, that they don’t have.”
While based in Canada, Userful is globally connected and its software is implemented in over 100 countries. “Canada, I think, has a surprisingly large amount of innovation given its size and Userful is an example of that. It’s a great Canadian technology company that a lot of people haven’t even heard of, and Canada has a lot of great technology but we’re not known internationally for it. It’s time that we start becoming known for our technology,” says Griffin. In order to stay innovative, the company ensures that it is two-steps ahead of the competition and “Canadian technology companies need to be thinking about the 5-year trend rather than the 6-month trend.”
As expansion is concerned, the company is actively developing a sales channel in Canada and the United States and is interested in bringing on new channel partners that have a focus towards small and medium businesses, healthcare, education, and government and call centers. “We need to build our global channel so that we have an increased ability to sell and deliver on the global basis.”
Securing its place as one of the top 100 virtualization players as well as being amongst the top 25 most innovative organizations in Alberta, Userful is excited about solving two of the biggest challenges that desktop virtualization customers face by eliminating complexity and cost. It offers Userful Multiplatform software, client device included, for a low $199 CAD.
For more information on Userful Multiplatform 7.0 desktop virtualization software, visit: http://www.userful.com/7