Q&A: Darron Antill, AppSense, discusses user virtualisation

AppSense is the leading provider of user virtualisation solutions for enterprises. Its technology makes physical and virtual desktop deployment possible by ensuring a seamless user experience across all delivery platforms―desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. AppSense has over 5,500 enterprise and government customers around the world, including major companies like BT, ESPN, JPMorgan Chase and United Airlines. Last year the company outsold the market altogether, with an impressive 1.5 million user licences sold in a 12 month period. We spoke to the company’s CEO, Darron Antill, to find out more about its virtualisation solutions.

Tell us about your role at AppSense?

I am the CEO of AppSense. I joined over a year ago with the express remit of further accelerating the growth the company and cementing our position as market leaders in the user virtualisation sector.

What is user virtualisation?

User virtualisation is a way of managing all user-specific information (for example, user-based corporate policy, personalised settings, user rights management and user-introduced applications) independent of the desktop, and applying this information on-demand into any desktop. This essentially enables IT departments to standardise the corporate desktop build, automate desktop delivery and easily and securely migrate users to new desktops.

AppSense “User Virtualisation” is an infrastructure technology solution that virtualises, centralises, manages and applies the user personality on to a desktop as required. It spans all desktops across multiple Windows platforms, desktop and application delivery mechanisms, devices and locations.

What are some of the benefits to organisations from using User Virtualisation?

AppSense’s technology has a number of clear benefits: it simplifies desktop management overhead, reduces operational costs, simplifies migrations to new OS platforms such as Windows 7, improves end-user experience and ensures that user settings and corporate policy are applied to set up, configure and personalise a desktop, no matter how that desktop is delivered or where it is hosted.

Do you have any metrics to prove this?

Yes, based on independent figures from Gartner and feedback from our customers, http://www.appsense.com/roi/ can prove significant savings per users and return on investment. For example:

  • Using AppSense to reduce the frequency of profile corruption saves an organisation on average $1,004 per user over three years. AppSense has a return on investment period of two months, equating to a saving of $16 for every $1 spent.
  • AppSense significantly reduces logon times to just a few seconds. If we work on an example of cutting the time to logon from 3 minutes to 30 seconds, That’s a saving of $841 per user over three years, or 30 hours per user over three years. Also a return on investment period of four months, equating to a saving of $8 for every $1 spent.
  • Using AppSense to replace complex access policies saves $2,385 per application over three years. This means a return on investment period of eight months, equating to a saving of $4 for every $1 spent.
  • AppSense is able to help organisation increase the speed of their Windows7 migration by as much three times (proven in a recent pilot project).

Who should consider User Virtualisation?

User Virtualisation is aimed at any organisation embarking on a desktop transformation project, such as migration to Windows7, considering desktop or application virtualisation, or considering BYOD (buy your own device) initiatives.

Essentially, no matter what you are planning to change in your desktop estate, virtualise the user first, separate them from what you have today, and make a simple and seamless move to whatever you want in the future. Our main customer base is made up of enterprise organisations and large-scale deployments). AppSense has deployed its solution in customer scenarios to over 100,000 users.

How big is the user virtualisation market?

Today the market is large, and growing. Computing is changing, we are moving from an infrastructure based approach of managing desktops and devices, to a user-centric approach to computing whereby desktops, applications and services are delivered and configured based on the context of the user at that exact point in time. User Virtualisation is a key strategic component of this shift.

The market potential for user virtualisation is very large: modelling based on independent estimates from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs put the market at around $2bn over the next few years. AppSense is―by some distance―the biggest company competing in this market, so we are well placed exploit this growing market potential.

AppSense has just received a significant injection of funding from Goldman Sachs, what are you going to do with all that money?

AppSense received $70m worth of investment from Goldman Sachs in return for a minority stake. This money will be used to accelerate the already rapid growth of the company. We are already a global company, the funding will be used to help expand our operations in Europe and in the US. Key future markets for us will be mobile and cloud platforms and the funding serves a great resource for a R&D projects.

We have experienced continued growth year-on-year, we’ll also use the money to continue to recruit and attract the best technical and sales professionals in the industry to AppSense both in Europe and US.

How easy was it to get funding?

AppSense is a solid, profitable business with a strong customer base. We are an attractive proposition to investment and VC companies and as such have been approached with numerous offers from various sources. The challenge was not necessarily to attract attention, but to decide if we want to take investment and if so, what is the best offer and ensure it is a mutually beneficial deal.

Do you have any advice for other tech companies looking to attract investment funding?

Do whatever it takes to be where the action and the money is. One of the key factors for attracting AppSense’s investment from Goldman Sachs was that as a company we could be seen to be active in the US and committed to growing in that market. This meant that I personally relocated to New York and built face-to-face relationships with the relevant individuals at Goldman Sachs, which was key to securing funding.

SHARETweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.