Managed Applications, Cloudpaging, and a New Flavor of Hosted QuickBooks
Back when a few businesses started operating as Application Service Providers (ASPs), there were a limited number of realistic approaches available for building the platform to deliver desktop applications. Many application hosting offerings grew somewhat like a fungus from the internal Citrix Metaframe and terminal service set ups performed by IT service companies. A lot of these companies didn’t start out to provide application hosting services; they simply found it to be more efficient and profitable than trying to manage all that hardware and software at the client site. And let’s face it – those solutions NEED a lot of management and resources, then and now.
Over the years, a variety of solutions have been introduced to ease the burdens of implementation and management of desktop applications on centralized platforms, but most of them were designed more for enterprise deployment rather than as the basis for a generalized service offering. Microsoft’s Remote App and Remote Desktop services, Microsoft and Citrix and Dell (Quest) app virtualization/management/publishing, even streaming and “containerized” applications… there are a few options out there and, in some circumstances, they can work pretty well. What keeps them from working out REALLY well, however, is the requirement for a delivered application to behave like a native application – including servicing integrations and connections and devices and all those other things attached to or running within the context of the local PC. This is among the problems which Numecent is solving, enabling an entirely new capability for innovative service providers like Uni-Data, one of the first companies authorized by Intuit to host QuickBooks desktop products.
Before Numecent introduced Cloudpaging, application service providers (particularly those focused on hosting small business solutions like Intuit QuickBooks desktop products) had only a few choices for the foundation of the service offering:
- streaming applications – first you put the application in a virtual machine, then you try to stream that VM over the web to a PC somewhere… and you wait and you wait and you wait until it gets there… and then the app doesn’t integrate with or work with any of the other stuff on your PC.
- Terminal services – you install the application once on the server and give access to users on the server, except that everyone on the server sees the same licensing and gets the same preferences (or no preferences), and the desktop on the host stands apart from the local desktop with no application integration and limited device support.
- VDI – this is the best approach for a hosted desktop application service because at least it is able to be personalized for each user, including applications, integrations and devices supported. While being the best way of taking your desktop with you everywhere you go, this approach tends to be far more costly than the smb market (especially the QB-using market) will bear.
Realistically, terminal services (remote desktop/remote app) and VDI are the most widely recognized approaches for creating “virtual” desktop or hosted application services. They solve many of the problems involved in centralizing the management and administration of computing resources and applications for broad bases of users, and it’s pretty much the only game in town when it comes to putting traditional desktop applications online (or putting the desktop online). There are certainly situations where these approaches, which are essentially packing all of the computing requirement into a centralized infrastructure, are the most effective method of addressing the total business requirement (e.g., hosting all the business applications with associated data, administering user security and access, and managing the entire system) at any significant scale. Each of these methods of providing managed applications require that the entire realm of solutions – the main applications, all integrations, drivers for devices to be supported, and all associated data – exist on the service provider servers and under the service provider’s control.
What these methods do not deliver is the simple usability of a native application running on the PC… with that application being fully managed, rental licensed, and “delivered” to any PC anywhere – fast. It is somewhat like a weird combination of streaming applications and VDI… except the application isn’t containerized, it comes to the PC faster than imaginable, and provides the unique and native desktop experience and benefit users demand (offline capability?).
In ancient theater, divine intervention was represented as a hand from the Cloud. Numecent’s cloudpaging is just that — deus ex machina — software delivered quickly and without foreshadowing, as if through divination.
“Numecent’s technology is to VDI what a fresh raspberry sorbet is to soft-serve vanilla – bright, fresh, piquant — the essence of flavor, cooler and crisper than the actual fruit, where the other is just a repetitively refrigerated sameness,” said Bob Babcock, the director of sales and marketing at Uni-Data.
Businesses looking to turn their static old QuickBooks desktop installations into something that works from anywhere (with bandwidth great or small) and with all the devices and other applications they already have and need to get work done… should take a close look at Uni-Data’s new Cloudpaged QuickBooks offerings. It’s an entirely new “flavor” of application hosting that I think a lot of folks will like.