Home Cloud Computing NetApp’s cloud-based Spot PC: Right solution, right direction, wrong company

NetApp’s cloud-based Spot PC: Right solution, right direction, wrong company


(Disclosure: most of the vendors mentioned are clients of the author.)

There should be no doubt that the current trend surrounding personal computing is to move the loads and the cost from the desktop to the cloud, where there are better economies of scale for things like updates, security, and performance-on-demand. The barriers against this move are past poor experiences with thin clients; excessive costs associated with some vendor solutions; and network access, capacity, and latency — all of which are being mitigated by 5G.

Microsoft’s Windows 365 moved desktop cloud computing to the mainstream, and NetApp just wrapped Windows 365 with a cloud PC offering called Spot PC. It looks really good on paper but will be hampered by the fact that NetApp is the wrong company to deliver a desktop solution. Just as IBM and Cisco failed at their Apple sales efforts, NetApp is likely to fail with this one. 

Let’s talk about why. 

International Harvester example

I grew up on a farm and a ranch. On the ranch we had both a Jeep and an International Harvester Scout to get around. In several ways, the Scout was the better farm vehicle, because it had a bed like a pickup truck and a hard-topped, enclosed cab that you could heat in the winter. But the Scout failed in the market, while the Jeep brand and vehicles, which aren’t that different than what I had back then, continue today.

The issue with the Scout was that the sales and service capability of International Harvester were designed for farm-targeted vehicles like harvesters and tractors. The Scout was a personal transportation vehicle traditionally sold in car or truck dealerships that catered to a far wider variety of buyers. Farm equipment is usually serviced at the location where it is in use, and if you need to take it into a shop, the equipment is picked up, taken to a central repair facility, and then trucked back, a process that is not at all like how you service a personal transportation vehicle. If you took your Scout in for service, there was no waiting room or any consideration for an owner who could wait for the repair, because these things weren’t needed for the industrial equipment that was mostly serviced there.    

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