Toshiba's first cloud service has a built-to-order twist

Users can customize the remote desktop hardware in Toshiba's first-ever cloud service

Toshiba's first cloud offering will come with a twist -- users will be able to customize the remote hardware being used to host the virtual desktop and storage service.

Users will be able to configure a remote desktop's processor, storage capacity and memory, which will determine the response time of applications and performance of the service, the company said on Monday.

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The remote desktop can be accessed through a browser on PCs, smartphones and tablets, said Terry Cronin, vice president of business development and channel marketing at Toshiba's Cloud Services Division. Toshiba is partnering with Citrix and VMware for the service.

By allowing customization, Toshiba wants to bridge the gap between remote desktops and PCs or tablets. The built-to-order feature allows users to determine the quality of service they get from the hosted offering, much like users selecting the quality of laptops or tablets based on the processor, memory and storage capacity.

The quality of service will also depend on the speed of the connection between the device and the data center where the remote desktop is being hosted. Toshiba has built two data centers in the U.S. -- one each on the East and West Coasts -- to provide faster service. The company will also help establish a dedicated line or virtual private network between the cloud service and device.

The price of a remote desktop starts at US$50 per month, and climbs up based on the configuration. Monitoring software will allow users to ensure they get what they paid for, Cronin said.

This is Toshiba's first cloud service, and it will be launched in the U.S later in the fourth quarter. Cloud services may also be rolled out in other countries in the future, Cronin said.

Toshiba launched the cloud service as IT managers try to manage a wide range of mobile devices being used at work, Cronin said. IT managers buying a package of desktops will be able to view and manage all virtual desktops being hosted by the service.

A larger number of mobile devices are being used for work, and companies are looking to centralize data and applications in servers. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are selling servers capable of delivering high-end graphics to thin clients, which reduces the need for workstations.

The data centers hosting the cloud service will be built on Toshiba's proprietary technology, Cronin said. The storage arrays will contain solid-state drives (SSDs) for the operating system and applications to load quickly on remote desktops. Hard-drive storage will be used to store non-critical applications, and homegrown software will orchestrate the data exchange.

"Toshiba software is written to ensure key tasks remain in key areas," Cronin said.

Data security is a growing concern in cloud, and Cronin said the company will meet service-level agreements.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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