Is it Cloud or is it Desktop?
There are a few realities that users of purely SaaS-based solutions are finding, and among them is that most web-based applications don’t readily integrate with the desktop – and the desktop is still where a lot of the real work gets done. Yes, users are increasingly mobile and are using smartphones and tablets to create and access information via mobile applications and services, yet the PC desktop – whether it’s an actual desktop computer, laptop or full-featured tablet – remains as the workhorse for business. Even the most popular SaaS applications continue to rely upon the desktop and locally installed applications to get some of the work done (note that many Salesforce.com users still find Excel to be their most effective reporting tool). In an effort to deliver mobility for those applications traditionally tied to the desktop, software developers have adopted two main approaches: redevelop the application for the web (which usually means bringing functionality down to a lowest-common-denominator approach), or applying a traditional terminal server or virtualized application approach and calling it “cloud”.
Neither option is awesome for the software maker – the time and cost of development certainly isn’t low, and the realities of hosting conventional desktop or LAN-based applications in shared infrastructure are pretty ugly at best. What these software makers need is a way to allow businesses to continue to use their software for the desktop and LAN, but enabling the user with software license use rights to access that software product and associated data on any of their “desktops”, regardless of where that desktop might be (or what device it is running on). The model is cloud, sort of, but then it’s a desktop model too. It’s being delivered by Skyline Cloud Services from Uni-Data, and is enabled through a new technology from Numecent called Cloudpaging.
Independent software vendors are more frequently turning to infrastructure (IaaS) and platform providers (PaaS) to help deliver whatever “cloud” approach the company elects, and these ISVs are also feeling the bite of outsourced service fees and growing costs of delivery. It is not just the direct customer questioning the cost of deploying resources in the cloud – software providers are questioning these costs, too, especially as they attempt to deliver resource-intensive solutions from hosted infrastructure that bills them based on resource utilization. Skyline’s deployment of applications via Cloudpaging is proving that ISVs and their customers no longer have to bear large infrastructure costs in order to deliver managed applications (with optional data management), distribution rights and license management, and complete user mobility. Skyline also addresses services from DaaS providers, allowing desktop-as-a-service offerings to include a variety of applications for business customers without having to become a “subject matter expert” and licensing agent for each solution. Skyline’s direct sales organization focuses on small/medium business solutions like Intuit QuickBooks and Results CRM , but the company and technology is delivering numerous managed application and data services.
Damon Donnell, an engineering director at Parsons, said his company saved millions by using Numecent. According to Kent, the cost savings was roughly $50 million.
Parsons claims it is only operating two servers to deliver four million huge computer-aided design (CAD) files to nearly 12,000 employees. By using Numecent, Donnell reports that his team has been able to focus resources on design and engineering rather than configuration.
Numecent’s team have repeatedly stressed that the technology can reach millions of users with very little server footprint.
General business isn’t the only area that benefits from this innovative approach to application mobility and management, educational institutions have also found tremendous benefits in providing users with applications via this technology. The benefits go way beyond simply reducing the cost of application management and support, it has also removed barriers that prevented or limited use.
At the UK universities that have deployed [cloudpaging], “students can use their software from anywhere and from any of their own machines,” … adding that “seeing how those students are now liberated is extraordinary.” This has proved particularly important to students with assisted learning needs. Often, students with special needs are provided with their own customized laptops, which they use in lieu of regular lab computers. “The software can now be provisioned to the assisted learning machines, empowering and liberating those students as well,” …
The information technology industry has seen a lot of disruption in recent years, with complexity and risk in systems rising as users demand more functional mobile capability and software developers struggle to protect and preserve their assets (users included). Skyline (by Uni-Data) is jumping right into the middle of it with Numecent, delivering solutions for software developers and cloud providers alike, and answering the question of whether it’s cloud or desktop. The answer is “yes”.