By Oded Rosenmann, Global Practice Lead, SaaS Partners – AWS
By Anubhav Sharma, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS
Professionals across industries are looking to expand their use of immersive workflows and enable instant and easy collaboration between globally distributed teams.
This inspired Varjo, an AWS Partner with an AWS-qualified software offering, to build revolutionary virtual reality/extended reality (VR/XR) hardware and software that together allow customers to see and experience lifelike virtual and augmented content.
Varjo has added high-end VR/XR cloud streaming capability to its Varjo Reality Cloud platform, enabling remote people to stream in human-eye resolution what someone is looking at through virtual reality and mixed reality headsets in another location. Varjo Reality Cloud allows users to join photorealistic virtual experiences with almost any laptop with a dedicated NVIDIA GPU and a Varjo headset, enabling seamless virtual collaboration.
With the help of AWS SaaS Factory, Varjo built and launched the new Varjo Reality Cloud platform as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution on Amazon Web Services (AWS), marking progress toward the company’s vision of bringing real-life collaboration into the metaverse.
“With Reality Cloud, we’re transforming from a product company to a service company, moving from selling hardware to helping our customers reach their full potential across immersive environments more easily and inexpensively than ever. The business and technical guidance provided by AWS has helped us save months of development time,” says Urho Konttori, Varjo founder and CTO.
Varjo has been working closely with early access customers that used the new Varjo Reality Cloud platform to improve the scalability of their immersive workflows across a variety of use cases, starting with car design. To name a few, Rivian, the electric vehicle manufacturer, uses the platform to conduct automotive design reviews, and Volvo uses it to design cars in virtual environments and democratize access to high-fidelity VR/XR.
Varjo has recently made its Varjo Reality Cloud platform commercially available to all customers, starting with streaming Autodesk VRED from the cloud. VRED users can now collaborate around realistic, real-scale virtual models in real-time.
We recently spoke with Aleksander Nyquist Langmyhr, Global Lead of Go-To-Market Strategy at Varjo, to learn more about the new Varjo Reality Cloud SaaS platform and the value it brings to customers. We asked Aleksander to share insights from Varjo’s transition to SaaS that can help other organizations planning to adopt this delivery model.
Q&A with Varjo
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you tell us about yourself and your role at Varjo?
Aleksander Nyquist Langmyhr: Sure! I was part of the founding team in Dimension10 that was acquired by Varjo in summer 2021. Since then, I have held different roles in Varjo and I am currently responsible for leading our go-to-market strategy for the software services we are developing.
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you share what products and solutions Varjo has offered in past?
Aleksander: Varjo has mainly been known as a hardware company up until now, delivering the best professional VR and XR headsets on the market, the only ones with human-eye resolution. Although we have always sold accompanying virtual and mixed reality software with our headsets, no software has been sold as a service on its own.
So, with the launch of Varjo Reality Cloud, we are taking another significant step towards offering the full stack for immersion: hardware, software services, and platform.
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you talk about the Varjo Reality Cloud and what problem this SaaS solution aims at solving?
Aleksander: Everyone agrees that immersive experiences add value for business, especially in design or training and simulation. VR and XR applications give the user the opportunity to experience something rather than just view it. To put it simply, it is way more effective to experience New York by being there rather than viewing photos of it…
High-end immersive experiences are available today for professional users, but there are hurdles to overcome to get to them—computer hardware is one of those hurdles. With Varjo Reality Cloud, you remove this hurdle and have the opportunity to stream these experiences, without having to worry about computing power. As long as you have a stable internet connection and an immersive device, you are good to go. This will make a big difference going forward.
AWS SaaS Factory: Who are your customers and what are some key customer benefits?
Aleksander: We start out where we know demand is the highest, the automotive industry, especially design departments. Many of the world’s leading auto manufacturers have been our early access partners for developing Varjo Reality Cloud. From there on, we will be expanding into other industries, including simulation and training.
In addition to removing the need for hardware the solution also allows for much easier scaling for immersive applications. And it gives IT departments the opportunity to focus on one server, rather than 100 of individual computers, to control version handling, etc. Combining all of these benefits, we know Varjo Reality Cloud is a game changer.
AWS SaaS Factory: How can users get started using Varjo Reality Cloud platform?
Aleksander: Visit varjo.com/realitycloud or reach out to our sales department—simple as that. We will have you up and running in no time.
AWS SaaS Factory: What was the primary objective for adopting SaaS as a business model?
Aleksander: SaaS is an attractive business model, both for us and our customers. It enables easy scaling for our customers and it is easy to adapt to customer needs. It provides frictionless onboarding and with the AWS geographical coverage it enables us to expand the addressable market. It also allows us as a service provider to use the recurring revenue to continue developing the service to its full potential.
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you walk us through how the SaaS Factory team supported the adoption of SaaS model?
Aleksander: AWS SaaS Factory team delivered a series of workshops to help with MVP version and product roadmap. Their support included guidance on the MVP scope for initial launch and roadmap post-launch, working backwards approach, the operational experience to support customers in the new environment, feedback loop process to define how to capture user feedback and usage data and incorporate it into the MVP development lifecycle.
The AWS SaaS Factory team also helped us develop a new GTM strategy that is focused on retention and growth, starting with customer journey mapping as an input for new sales motions, playbooks, and success plans.
AWS SaaS Factory: What were some of the technical challenges when moving to a SaaS delivery model?
Aleksander: The key technical challenges included latency, performance, capacity management, and bandwidth. The quality of cloud streaming needed to match that of a locally installed system, so the bar was definitely as high as it can be. To add to that, our customers are extremely security-cautious—so a 100 % assurance of no resource leakage was crucial.
Every bit of communication between local client, fleet management backend, and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances needed to be secure.
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you share how AWS SaaS Factory helped you address these technical challenges?
Aleksander: AWS SaaS Factory team conducted a series of workshops to guide Varjo’s development team on the architectural best practices of building a SaaS solution on AWS. This was followed by deep dive discussions on system architecture.
Working together with the EC2 product team and SaaS Factory teams, we were able to solve our biggest hurdle of building a high throughput and low latency streaming platform and bringing the experience close to an on-premise based installation, with enterprise-grade security.
AWS SaaS Factory: Were you able to also improve the onboarding experience for your customers in the new SaaS model?
Aleksander: There is no doubt that we are able to create a better relationship with our customers working this way. The model allows us to focus on continuous customer follow up and success—and as part of this effort we are doing a lot more to ensure successful onboarding.
AWS SaaS Factory: What advice would you share to other organizations as they navigate to a SaaS delivery model?
Aleksander: Do your research on what it entails to work as a SaaS company. It is not just changing your business model, you also need to make sure changes are anchored in the organization and that you have the team to implement and run this business model.
But if you are successful, it will yield benefits to both customers and yourself. And the obvious answer, but nonetheless true, is to use the AWS SaaS Factory for everything it is worth—they have great knowledge and experience, and for us, they have been a fantastic partner on our journey towards SaaS, and I expect them continue being so going forward as well.
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