Adar's Nerdio Tackles Predicting Costs For Azure-Based Desktop Workloads

Adar is looking to make it easier for MSPs to sell virtual desktops hosted in Microsoft's cloud by adding to its Nerdio IT-as-a-Service platform a tool that eliminates one of the biggest inhibitors for customers: uncertain costs.

The Nerdio for Azure Cost Estimator introduced earlier this month looks to empower MSPs to accurately preview their customers' cloud bills before they commit to Microsoft's infrastructure. The partner just needs to answer some questions about desired resources, numbers of users, licensing and advanced requirements.

"You can have instant feedback on the big levers that are driving costs," VadimVladimirskiy, CEO of Adar, told CRN.

[Related: Adar Unveils Channel Program For Its Nerdio ITaaS Platform]

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The cost-estimation tool is available to all Nerdio partners through the platform's reseller portal, and on Adar's website for solution providers who aren't yet partners, Vladimirskiy said.

Adar has also introduced a white-label option for Nerdio, fulfilling one of the biggest requests from its channel. Partners can upload icons, change colors and app names, add their own contact phone numbers and email addresses to customize the platform.

Adar, based in Chicago, knows the channel well. The company was founded in 2005 as an MSP specializing in delivering remote desktop services and virtual desktops.

During a decade of hosting customers in its private cloud, the company developed internal technologies for more efficiently delivering those services. After building hundreds of unique desktop environments, Adar packaged up its technology a couple years ago as Nerdio and made the platform available to other MSPs looking to launch similar practices.

Earlier this year, that "IT-as-a-Service" solution was ported from a private cloud to Azure.

Nerdio deploys desktops, services, collaboration or productivity suites like Office 365, security and robust backup and recovery functionality. The MSP can then layer services like a help desk, strategy consulting, building and supporting line-of-business apps, Vladimirskiy said.

"There's a million different ways to build this kind of environment," Vladimirskiy told CRN. But "we've standardized on a very specific implementation of the core technology components."

An automation layer allows provisioning, management and optimization of the full technology stack in the Microsoft cloud. That reduces the time to deploy a desktop environment from a couple of weeks to a couple of hours, Vladimirskiy said.

To get started in the Nerdio portal, MSPs just enter a customer name and select an Azure region. They can then tune environments to their customers' particular needs by selecting options around graphics capabilities, storage and servers for shared files and databases, application servers, auto-scaling, backup options, reserved instances and licenses.

Nerdio builds the environment from the ground up, including integration with Office 365. The platform's consolidated management tools span Azure, Windows, anti-virus, mailboxes and backup services.

The company's mantra is any task should take three clicks or less to complete, Vladimirskiy said.

"We make sure everything we put in our portal is really clean and quick and simple to use," he told CRN.

The platform's optimization and monitoring tools offer metrics that illuminate the actual user experience, such as how long it takes to log in, browse a website or deliver e-mail. And to save on the spend, there's an auto-scaling function that ramps down usage in off-hours.

But a persistent challenge for MSPs—and inhibitor to their customers—has been forecasting operational expenses for a consumption-based cost structure. That's where the cost-optimization tool should help drive greater adoption of Azure for those workloads, Vladimirskiy told CRN.

"The cost estimator is really easy to use," said Michel Charest, a solutions manager at Sherbrooke, Quebec-based cloud services provider SherWeb. "The cost structure is clearly indicated and can be clearly explained to my customer. It’s easy to get a price-per-user for the solution."

The capability will enhance a platform that already helps him sell cloud-based desktop solutions with its ease of use, flexibility, intuitive interface and speed of delivery, all coupled with the benefits of the Azure cloud, Charest said.

With Nerdio, RDS or VDI environments can be created in minutes, and automatically implement best practices, auto-scale and take advantage of Microsoft's bring-your-own-license policies. And the platform delivers those capabilities through an intuitive admin portal that makes it easy to demo the product to customers and explain how they can manage their own setup, Charest told CRN.