Business Software

New Software Publishes Apps Through Browsers

UK systems integrator, Centrix Software, has taken the unusual step of developing its own software package to resolve the fragmented user experience of staff having to deal with multiple applications and services.

WorkSpace is described as an application aggregation and publishing platform. The product has been already around for 18 months already, but now version 3.0 is being officially launched to the market today.

Essentially Centrix WorkSpace sits between an organisation's data centre and the end-user environment. Using adapters, the platform combines all end-user applications, resources and services used by the business, regardless of the underlying technology (virtualised, legacy or web) and operating system.

WorkSpace then presents these applications and services to the end-user via any browser (it is browser independent). It uses a consumer-friendly front-end GUI, with a look-and-feel designed to resemble a typical computing or web experience, which most end-users will be familiar with.

Centrix says that WorkSpace is designed to be a non-intrusive solution that is deployed within an organisation's firewall. It adheres to existing governance, security and compliance frameworks, in order to ensure that IT departments can maintain the necessary control and protection across the user environment.

WorkSpace has already been selected by Japanese banking giant, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, to publish its 500 plus applications to 2,500 users across its EMEA and North American operations.

Companies can also brand (or skin) WorkSpace with their own corporate identities and branding. In addition, besides its range of adapters for most popular operating systems and applications, the package ships with an open API, so customers can develop their own adapters for their own specific legacy applications.

"Over 50 percent of data centres already have virtualisation, but this can lead to fragmentation of the user experience, multiple silos, and complicated environments," said Lisa Hammond, CEO of Centrix, speaking to Techworld. "This fragmentation is pushing from the back-end to the front-end.

She feels that this fragmentation of the user experience is slowing adoption and provides a challenge for IT and network admins, looking to roll out new applications or services to its user-base, especially as end-users in large enterprises typically have to deal with multiple services access points, inconsistent IT resources, publishing mechanisms, different displays and behaviours. This, she feels, acts as a brake on end-user adoption, satisfaction and productivity.

WorkSpace is resource independent, and will also allow the IT department to bill individual departments, for example. In other words, allows the IT department to become a provider.

"Our first foot in the door is executive mobility," said Hammond, citing the desire of management to be able to use company applications irrespective of where they are based on any given day. She also feels that WorkSpace is highly relevant to organisations involved in mergers and acquisitions, where the IT department is combining applications from one company with other applications from another. She also says it is useful for companies involved in demergers, outsourcing and offshoring, or those companies seeking to provide a "branch in a box."

Providing a consistent user interface to staff has long been a goal of IT departments dealing multiple legacy and commercial applications. "The focus for many organisations when it comes to issues around the user interface is moving from a drive for homogeneity through enforcing the use of a single device type, to embracing heterogeneity," said Clive Longbottom, Service Director, at research house Quocirca.

"This brings the need for an interface that is flexible in its means of presentation, yet can provide benefits in control and security that go far beyond what a local device-centric viewpoint can bring."

Commenting on Centrix WorkSpace, Longbottom concluded, "By keeping all the important components at the server level, using 'adapters' to ensure a common approach to application, services and functions, and enabling multiple roles and views to be assigned across the interface, the best of all worlds can be brought to bear."

WorkSpace is available on a subscription model at £10 ($15.90) per user per month inclusive of support and maintenance, or as a perpetual license at £200 ($318) per user.

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