Earlier today my peer Ron Grattopp posted a nice recap on the value proposition of Windows 8 Professional and more specifically, Windows 8 Enterprise in his Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise feature overview. It is a good overall summary and I encourage you to read it, but I want to harp one capability of Windows 8 Enterprise that I think is the shining star for partners as it unlocks services opportunities galore.
Windows To Go!
Below is a slide that calls out some of the scenarios where Windows to Go is applicable:
Hitting these one at a time we can see some immediate opportunity to address certain challenges your customers may be experiencing, such as:
- Contractors: Get contingent staff up and running faster without compromising security
- BYOD: Embrace “Bring Your Own PC” while minimizing infrastructure costs
- Travel Light: People travel light without sacrificing productivity ..This is especially great when you think about traveling to a branch office. …The hardware could be waiting there for you when you arrive!
- Shared PC: Enable free seating even when people roam across mobile workstations
One solution I have not seen mentioned is backup or Disaster recovery. Lets add this to the list.
This is an example of when you tell us what a technology can be used for. Think about it, the application for Windows To Go as a client DR solution makes sense.
A small business burns down due to fire. All the systems on site are utterly destroyed.
The small business is using Office 365 for collaboration and productivity
They have a few redundant servers in the cloud (Azure, Rackspace, Amazon) that host LOB apps, etc.
They have Windows To Go configured USB drives with a corporate image they have issued to employees for the “Work From Home” scenario above.
In order for workers to commence being productive, all they need do is boot their issued Windows to Go USB drive and they have everything they need to get to work as the image supplies all the corporation’s client applications, Connectivity via VPN or direct Access, RDP connections to VDI if used, etc. All the documents and files are accessible through SharePoint Online and SkyDrive Pro. …and it is secure to boot (literally)!
Think what many small businesses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina would have given for such a solution. Simple yet elegant. Heck you could even put those USB flash drives into a faraday cage and be good for some serious DR!
All this for less than $100 per user in hardware. A small price to pay for the added security, not to mention the scenarios above.
A Few Details on Windows To Go:
At present only two manufactures have USB flash drives that support Windows To Go. It is important to understand that in order to drive a good experience Windows To Go requires:
- Certification through the Windows 8 Hardware Certification Kit
- USB 3.0 drives with SSD & high random Read/Write speed
- High performance and endurance with low latency
- Reports as fixed media
- Size constraints are the same as a full Windows
So far Two manufacturers have these devices available.
These devices are not cheap, but as you can imagine, as time goes on and as Windows To Go picks up speed, the costs will be driven down.
A Services Opportunity for You!
Although Windows To Go can be provisioned via a Enterprise Edition of Windows 8 (if you have a capable drive and access to media or a WIM file), the best experience for businesses will be via a standard image that you can help them deploy and distribute.
Windows To Go can use the same image as corporate laptops/desktops
Windows To Go can be deployed using System Center Configuration Manager
Windows To Go can be deployed using PowerShell and supports offline domain join.
Windows To Go supports Direct Access, VDI, and Group Policy
The bottom line is if you are doing a desktop deployment of 100 systems for a customer, that can potentially be doubled if you deploy Windows To Go for all SA covered devices. Obviously this does not mean doubled services revenue, but at scale it will not be much harder to add these devices to the deployment and make some more money, not to mention the margin on the devices themselves.
You can find more on Windows To Go on TechNet by reading the Windows To Go Overview.
Take it for what it is worth. I think it is worth a lot!