Microsoft Softricity

As Microsoft has now purchased Softricity (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jul06/07-17SoftricityPR.mspx) I thought I should take a look at it. If it works as well as they show on the web and on their demos then I wonder why all companies would not want to use virtualised application deployment rather than deploying apps the traditional way or using Terminal Server farms (although Softricity can work on those and help with apps that can not normally run on TS).  It creates a sandbox called SystemGuard Environment that the virtualised application runs in so it can not write to registry or other files but can read them and allows the application to cut and paste as if it were installed locally. It reminds me of the Java Virtual Machine but any Windows application can be run through the sequencer program. This can be delivered from a server and they say that only 20% to 40% of the app needs to be downloaded for it to work. It is then cached so that the user can run it next time. Which is great for laptops which has always been Terminal Servers Achilles heel. Well until 3G is cheap and pervasive. The advantages are

  • No application testing for conflicts as the application is sandboxed
  • Can create a simple single OS image for deployment and stream apps afterwards
  • Reduced application conflicts so reduced helpdesk calls
  • Improved security as application sandboxed
  • Centralise control and reporting
  • Smaller amount of data to transmit to get app working
  • Can be cached for laptop users
  • Multiple versions of applications that clash can be run

There is integration with SMS. http://www.softricity.com/products/softgrid-sms.asp So you can push the virtualised application to an SMS client in the same way that you would a normal application or just the code needed to get the application running and the client will pull down code as it needs it. 

Good collateral at http://www.softricity.com/products/howitworks.asp on how it works and the PDF at http://www.softricity.com/news/ecollateral/public/The-Softricity-Desktop.pdf gives a good overview of the product, how it works and its advantages.  The only thing I am not sure of is how it is to be licensed. Will Microsoft give it as part of SMS, which would be a good deal for SMS customers, or will they continue to sell it as a separate product? And if so for how much? In any case it looks like an amazing technology that Microsoft has bought. 

Now Microsoft has virtualisation technologies for the OS with Virtual Server and Virtual PC and for applications with Softricity.

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