Softricity debuts on demand provisioning

New application virtually powered

Softricity on Monday debuted an application-provisioning and access technology that, in concert with the company's existing virtualization technology, allows desktop users to gain access to Windows applications via an on-demand model from local or remote locations.

Called ZeroTouch, the product helps to delegate policy-based provisioning that can be managed by department managers or end-users themselves. It contains a workflow capability that controls the authorization chain of command for allocating applications, giving only those with proper authorization the ability to manage the assignment of applications, company officials said.

"IT departments have been wrought with so many little tasks like regression testing, installing and uninstalling software, or visiting people's machines for any number of mundane things. Our goal is to make all that completely automated. I think with Zero Touch we have a way to take a lot of the little details that core software products require IT to do, and push it down to either the end-users or the business unit," said David Greschler, Softricity's co-founder and vice president of marketing.

Windows-based applications are shown to users through ZeroTouch's Web-based front end or through the Windows desktop. The front end, which can be integrated into a company's existing portal, can be tailored to reflect the look and feel of the user's company, Softricity officials said.

Some industry observers believe the new offering has benefits for both administrators and their users.

"Most organizations don't allow users to load their own PC applications because of the technical problems it causes and its impact on productivity. But productivity can be lost anyway if users can't get to the applications they need. This looks like a solution that lets users self-provision swiftly," said Robin Bloor, founder of Bloor Research.

Hoping to create a familiar environment for Windows users, thereby cutting down on training costs, ZeroTouch gives desktop users access to their complete desktop. They can click on My Desktop, which can be treated as a remote desktop session, to get at all of their data using their computer or someone else's.

"The idea [with ZeroTouch] is that from a single Web page you get access to not only desktop apps, but Web-based apps that have been virtualized. This, for instance, lets you run multiple versions of Java on the same machine at the same time. I think that is a big problem some people are having today," Greschler said.

ZeroTouch works with the company's application virtualization technology called SoftGrid. SoftGrid is designed to make sure any software being provisioned does not conflict with or "break" any other applications. It does this by using a thin virtualization layer running on each PC to isolate virtualized applications from the underlying workstation operating system as well as from each other, company officials explained.

By containing components such as DLLs and Windows registry settings that can conflict with each other in the virtualization layer, IT managers can deploy a range of different applications without them interfering with each other or introducing instability to the overall environment, company officials said.

The new product also has features that reportedly make it easier for departments to track and manage various assets within their business units. It can generate reports for those managers higher up in the organization that provide summaries of a group's activities, as well as allowing them to drill down and take more granular views of individuals. It can also manage chargebacks to business units and help departments better manage their spending.

ZeroTouch is expected to be generally available before the end of the second quarter. Pricing for the product will be made known at that time, according to company officials.

More information about the product can be seen at Softricity.