Software stores with online streaming, Part 1

Just about everyone is aware of the concept of application stores for mobile phones by now. The iPhone App Store and the Android Market contain tens of thousands or applications that you can purchase, download, and activate–all on your smartphone.

Traditional Windows applications, however, are often using the same installer and packaging helper apps that were used for software distribution a decade ago. Many software vendors–and many software users–dislike this model. Usage is difficult and onerous to enforce, and as a result, software piracy costs the industry billions of dollars each year. Users often have to uninstall software on one machine before they can use it on another–which makes it very difficult when one’s hard drive has crashed or when one’s laptop has been stolen.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a way both issues can be improved. Requiring an internet connection, a username, and user credentials is often a much easier way to enable both usage and application portability.

The problem with SaaS is that most vendors believe their Windows applications have to be re-engineered (and often dumbed-down) to work on browsers. This leads to slow, feature-poor applications. Compare Google Apps to Microsoft Office. Google Apps gives you basic functionality, but isn’t nearly as feature-rich as Office. Sharon Slayton of the San Francisco Examiner said, “if you’re a serious document construction kind of person, the Google Docs App will leave you cold and wanting for your big, plush, feature-rich Microsoft Word, at least for now.”

And for the world beyond office applications, the SaaS world has a similarly bleak outlook. For vendors who have rich, complex, resource-intensive apps, re-engineering for browsers is often not a viable solution.

It’s clear what customers and vendors need: an app-store model for Windows applications. In this model, the features required are:

  • The ability to purchase software
  • The ability to download software quickly
  • Usage enforcement and tracking
  • Application portability
  • Minimizing application and PC conflicts
  • Automatically applying patches and upgrades without bothering the user

In other words, a Windows application store would have all the advantages of SaaS without requiring re-engineering or a dembing-down of the feature set to deliver the app to the user.

Next: How app virtualization and streaming can address Windows app stores

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Software2 powers online educational software stores

Software2 is a UK-based a software distribution technology provider for the education market. The company provides e-commerce services and trial software services for software resellers and vendors to maximize the value they provide to students, parents, faculty and staff at educational institutions nationwide.

Software2 has two customers with very specific needs. Viglen, a leading provider of educational software in the UK, has customers who have increasingly asked for quicker alternatives to boxed software. Sherston, a UK-based software publisher of educational games such as Charlie Chimp and The Crystal Rainforest, depends heavily on trial software for sales, but needed a way to reduce both the costs of shipping boxed software and the time it took to make a sale.

Software2 used Endeavors Technologies Application Jukebox to power Viglen’s student portal and Sherston’s trial software site. Both launches have been successful, and Software2 believes they couldn’t have done it without Application Jukebox.

Read the Software2 customer success story here (PDF).

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Application Delivery: The Driving Force of the Cloud (part 3)

In the last Cloud Computing post, the use case for Cloud-based applications had several problem areas that the Cloud could dramatically improve:
• A centrally managed store for information
• Multiple users in distributed locations
• A need for real-time updates
• A need for quick implementation
• Manageable cost
For today’s business applications, only two of these requirements are usually in place: multiple users in distributed locations, and manageable cost. While certain files need to be centrally managed, placing applications or information on the Cloud usually is overly resource-intensive compared to the business benefits.
And that’s exactly what many Cloud vendors, hosting providers, and middleware companies are forgetting: the goal is to have the applications delivered to users quickly and efficiently. There are many vendors whose solutions are simply Cloud for Cloud’s Sake. Valuable, high-powered Windows applications are getting dumbed down so that they work on browsers—and the performance suffers so much that the business benefits are watered down.
The ideas that Cloud vendors need to be promoting is that these applications can be packaged or sequenced to be Cloud-ready. These Cloud-ready packages can then live in the Cloud (public, if it’s a software vendor who wants to sell it; private, if it’s an enterprise who wants to provide access to it). And users can then easily access these applications from the cloud. In today’s model, a helper tool is usually required to run the app, but a helper app the size of an IM client is significantly less onerous than a heavy web app that crashes the browser every other day.

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A Non-Technical Story and a Big Technical Show.

Today at 4 PM, Endeavors Technologies will be on the exhibit hall floor in booth 1339 for the opening night festivities at VMworld San Francisco–and we’ll be here through Thursday afternoon. While we will be promoting our whitepaper titled Delivering Applications to Virtual Desktops, we’ll also be demonstrating Application Jukebox’s capabilities all week.

And we just posted a video on our site just in time for VMworld, called A Non-Technical Story about Application Jukebox. This 7-minute Flash presentation presents a high-level overview of how Application Jukebox approaches the issues of application delivery and cloud computing. Let us know what you think of the presentation in the comments below!

If you will be at VMworld, please stop by Booth 1339 and say hello.

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Application delivery: the driving force of the Cloud (part 2)

In the last blog post, I said that the information technology problem that most companies have is that is takes too much time and costs too much for employees to do their work and for customers to do business with those companies. Throughout our modern era, technology has solved this problem.

Henry Ford, for example, used the assembly line to pioneer mass production so that employee productivity could be significantly raised and customers could do business more easily with Ford. The Cloud solves the same problems in some cases.

Everyone points to Salesforce.com as a true success story for Software-as-a-Service and Cloud technology, and with good reason: customer relationship management is extremely difficult and expensive to implement when done entirely in-house. The cost of a putting in a dedicated centralized database and giving a distributed sales staff access to that database—while keeping everything up-to-date in real time—is an enormous undertaking. Only the largest enterprises were able to purchase and roll out these systems. But Salesforce.com has the database centrally located, and has already solved the access problem.

Salesforce.com is successful because the core use case has the following requirements:

  • A centrally managed store for information
  • Multiple users in distributed locations
  • A need for real-time updates
  • A need for quick implementation
  • Manageable cost

Let’s take the example of Google Docs. A web-based spreadsheet and word processor has the advantage of being free. However, Microsoft Office is relatively low-cost and its performance is faster and its features are markedly better. Google Docs really took off, however, when political campaigns started to use them for campaign management. Spreadsheets could be updated in real time and distributed to people who walked precincts and made phone calls. Information could be updated instantly. For that particular use case, you see the same requirements as the Salesforce.com use case.

Successful business solutions almost always address an application that an employee uses to do their job—from putting a car together to accessing correct customer information.

Coming up: application delivery at the crux of today’s business problems

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Application delivery: the driving force of the Cloud (part 1)

One of the most hyped concepts in the IT world is the Cloud. Far from being the flavor of the month, however (remember SOA?), the Cloud seems to have some staying power—and some potential to really make a difference in the way information is delivered.

Almost three years ago, Nicholas Carr wrote The Big Switch, which posited that information technology, like electrical power almost a century ago, was moving from an in-house specialty to a centrally managed public utility. This is the concept behind Cloud Computing.

And everyone and their mother, it seems, is now offering something in the cloud, a something-as-a-service. IDC, Gartner, and other analyst firms have a checklist of what is required before a company can officially call their offering a “cloud” solution or “software-as-a-service.” Platforms as a Service! Infrastructure as a Service! Public Clouds! Private Clouds! Hybrid Clouds!

These terms may make a lot of sense to folks who are analyzing the vendors’ offerings, but I don’t think it’s especially helpful to companies or consumers who are looking to solve problems. And I think it’s instructive to look at what problems actually need to be addressed before slapping the Cloud on top of it and rubber-stamping approval.

First of all, the information technology problem that most companies have is that is takes too much time and costs too much for employees to do their work and for customers to do business with those companies. This is not a new problem, and technological innovations have often been able to solve these issues. Many vendors offer Cloud solutions which often fail to make a compelling case for why the problem needs to be addressed in the Cloud.

Coming up: business problems and the history of technological innovation

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Endeavors at VMworld San Francisco

VMworld 2010Endeavors Technologies will be exhibiting at VMworld at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. We’ll be in booth 1339.

Our focus will be on application delivery in VDI environments. Many virtualization experts discuss the cost advantages of VDI, but virtual desktops are meant to address desktops, not applications–and that means that they way your users access their apps is crucial to the ROI of any VDI project.

While Application Jukebox software works in all kinds of environments–VDI or otherwise–we believe you need a specific approach to delivering apps to virtual desktops in order to lower your total cost of ownership and maximize the potential savings with VDI.

We’ll have information–including our new “Delivering Applications to Virtual Desktops” white paper–available at the booth, as well as application virtualization experts who can discuss the best practices for your approach to application delivery over VDI. Register for VMworld today and we’ll see you at booth 1339!

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