After me wrote about NetApp’s Spot PC last month, I had a very nice call with the general manager of Spot PC, Jeff Treuhaft. He reminded me that this is still a very young proposition and, given that, it makes more sense to focus on the product, not the channel or the brand. So, while Treuhaft didn’t agree with my thoughts, he suggested that NetApp has a plan to deal with issues as soon as possible. Computer spot It has been proven in several initial deployments.
Since the plan is not yet in place and due to secrecy surrounding the move, Treuhaft was unable to share more. So I want to focus on what it could be and how it could transform the PC experience into something less aggravating and closer to what users say they want.
NetApp currently sells Spot PC through existing managed service provider (MSP) channels.
A partnership or merger to create a new class of PC company
The world we live in is very different than it was even a few years ago. Rather than working in the office as the norm — and working from home as the exception — we seem to be locking in a solid work-from-home model or a hybrid of work from home and the office. Some of the reports I’m seeing from companies that have required employees to return to the office indicate that this forced march has resulted in unsustainable levels of attrition and that employees are migrating to competitors who promotes aggressive work-from-home policies.
But working from home has significant support issues. You can’t cost-effectively roll out technologies at scale and, since support is also likely to be remote, you can’t always ensure that user problems are addressed in a timely manner. Therefore, the focus must be on reducing the number of problems that any user — especially a remote user — has to deal with.
The Cloud PC, which is the latest iteration of the Thin Client, seems like an ideal path; it’s usually more flexible (you can specify that you only want a case with better performance), more secure, and possibly cheaper, initially and over time due to economies of scale. Especially for those at home, it’s better, faster, and cheaper than the traditional PC approach.
The issue, as I mentioned last month, is that NetApp is not known as a PC vendor. And until that lack of brand identity is rectified, it will seriously diminish NetApp’s market potential.
But what if NetApp partnered or merged with another company to address these problems? And who would he partner with?
Lenovo and Cisco to win?
NetApp has two long-term strategic partners that can address the problems of brand and Spot PC issues. Lenovo and Cisco (disclosure: they’re both clients) have capabilities that could improve Spot PC and make it much more capable than it already is. Lenovo has the old IBM PC division, and IBM was dominant back in the days of terminals – which Spot PC reflects, to some extent. Lenovo has an impressive suite of desktop management tools that could be bundled with this NetApp effort for an end-to-end deployment and support solution from a well-respected brand.
Cisco has arguably the strongest procurement program for remote employees. It allows employees to go to a store like Best Buy and get the networking and collaboration tools they need in a complete, approved and highly trusted package. These tools could be configured remotely and combined with Spot PC to create a plug-and-play Spot PC ecosystem.
This would also set the stage for a deeper expansion partnership between the companies or a merger to create an entity that would rival the old IBM or the current Dell Technologies in size, scope and (given Lenovo’s much stronger presence in China) to achieve possible.
While Treuhaft couldn’t share a plan that doesn’t yet exist for the next phase of Spot PC, I think a possible path to success would include bringing firms like Lenovo and Cisco on board. This would make it possible to create an end-to-end Cloud PC solution that can be effectively deployed on-premises – and work particularly well for home offices while lowering support costs and increasing security.
If the companies have the will, we could see the emergence of a new kind of deep partnership or great merger as the industry moves to reimagine the computer.
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NetApp Spot PC: foundation for a new desktop paradigm?
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