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Business Insider was blown away by Numecent. Me too!

Business Insider wrote they were blown away by this startup. http://www.businessinsider.com/were-blown-away-this-startup-could-literally-change-the-entire-software-industry-2012-3

I can't disagree. This startup, Numecent, has some pretty mind-blowing cloud-based technology to deliver apps to you without forcing you to download the entire app. Think of things like Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Office, Autodesk's CAD software, etc. 

Here founder Osman Kent tells me what's behind this very interesting technology. Learn more at http://www.numecent.com/
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26 comments
 
I was just thinking today that I wish there was an app version if Adobe Illustrator. This sounds like it could make that happen a lot sooner!
 
I was looking forward to it right up until I realized that they end up owning your data.  If you don't continue your subscription, then your data evaporates.
That's nasty.
 
Some companies are already doing this. The Blizzard entertainment downloader/installer let you start a game while the "rest of it" is still downloading.
 
Impressive and I can see this as transformational
 
But they do have to do something about owning your data, it is a big downside.
 
Robert, that is right -- where your data resides is configurable. A corporation or service provider can control to protect and manage your data -- a security feature. Or it can be configured to be stored where the user wishes. Local execution affords this -- one of the many beautiful aspects of cloudpaged apps. 
 
Very interesting way to deliver and use apps through the cloud. +Francois AUDIBERT, the issue of the "owning" of the data is dependent on the owner of the license - which is most likely the enterprise that is serving the app to it's users. Ultimately, if you are "employed" by an enterprise/company that you are doing PS work for, the enterprise typically owns the rights to that work. Definitely will be interesting to see how this rolls out and is used by others.
 
Trust me. How are they going to get around software licenses.
The tech may be something special. But, if it is based on using Windows in any way. Microsoft will get their cut.
 
Maybe I've missed something but is there any way to keep the files edited with software delivered by Numecent from going completely puff! From what I gather the files are dependant on the software and as such uninstalling the software would remove all related files from my computer; not a very heartwarming outcome. I would hate to see all my edits dissappear just because, for whatever reason, I did a full system wipe or because I'd decided to no longer subscripe to an app. How do you preserve the files?
 
These two technologies are the nightmare of unfree software and unfree data. 1984 is only 30 years late. This is evil.
 
This is pretty cool. It's like application specific VDI. Good move to go to OpenStack!
 
@dawid - yes almost always the service provider can and will preserve the data before the apps are removed and then made accessible again when the app is cloudpaged elsewhere. This way your data is as accessible as your apps and you do not have to worry about accidentally leaving your data behind. 
 
How is this different than MS App-V, the app sequencing that MS picked up when they bought Softricity SoftGrid?  I'm confused.
 
+David Bucci the difference is that the application is handled by the vendor instead of paying an internal application packaging resource. With this new model, the application is presented from the remote server. If anything, sounds like XenApp. App-V your hooks are presented virtually to the local OS. This technology seems to go beyond with its ability to manage data that is created with the applications, which appv can't. Also this maps with the memory management, so you can have tighter system integration that what is offered with appv. Then again, I'd be curious to know how this would handle smaller ISVs with stringent license requirements requiring a registration against the machine name and user name which is something that it's still difficult to manage; I know this first hand.
 
+David Bucci +johnny cadavid 

Actually this is different from App-V in that what App-V does is essentially creates a glorified zip file that contains all the registry/files for an application and when you launch the application it uses code injection to add a filter driver which intercepts Win32 API calls to the registry and file system. If the entry exists in the sequence, it serves it up from there, if not, it passes through to the local registry.

In contrast cloud paging is essentially given away by it's name, it's like a pagefile in the cloud. So when the application tries to access a particular piece of memory (say the section of memory containing the gaussian blur function as in the video) rather than pull that via a combination of reading the DLL into memory from the local filesystem it reads it (and only it) into memory over the internet.

In the case of App-V all the data is delivered at once (it does "kind of" do some of this by using feature block 1 which basically says "what all data do you need just to launch this application" and thereby I would imagine COULD be extended to have similar functionality to this, but they have so, so, very far to go) and isolated in a container, in the case of numecent the data isn't delivered until the user actually uses it.

Which brings me to my questions/concerns. Latency being the first one. The amount of ram used by the blur function is not incredibly large, and when you don't load all the unused stuff into ram and have a "feature block one" that is 214MB given that is (depending on the version) roughly half of the size of the Photoshop CS6 install I have my doubts about the impressive look and feel. 3MB of chrome is a decent percentage of chrome. So what percentage of an app is needed for the initial stub for typical apps? (add 15% to whatever number they give you)

More importantly the same issues App-V and Thinapp and Juice and every other virtualization technology have SEEM to still apply here, namely drivers, interoperability, COM+ andshell extensions.

Case in point, if your company has warehouses or manufactures anything App-V wont work for most of your software because guess what, most of that stuff needs drivers. Adobe Acrobat needs drivers, that means most law firms are going to have a problem with this.

If you boook flights as part of your business you are likely a Sabre customer, and you are screwed.

If you use excel plugins how are those plugins going to make their way into NaaS (REALLY hate that term btw, they are pretty clearly stretching lol), for something like Office where the plugin installers smart (or dumb) enough not to check for office just dump them to C:\Program Files\Office\Excel\Plugins maybe excel would pick them up just fine, but what about the ones that dont?

What about the ones that rely on runtime integration? The same thing that kills App-V (the fact that it can't see office because office technically isn't installed) is going to kill this.

When you go to sharepoint and click "open in excel" or click a mailto link how is it going to know that the mail provider for outlook should exist or that excel is installed and this is how to launch it (oh and btw this is how to pass it the target file it should open via COM)?

How is windows supposed to know when you right click on a zip file to provide you with the context menu option to extract it?

The real problem with these semi hands off demos is that demos are what stuff like this is MADE for. Because it looks incredible, and it IS incredible. Technically speaking I respect the underlying approach these guys use FAR more, it's still "wrong" to call it virtualization but it's a hell of a lot more sophisticated than what ThinApp or App-V does.

And there are obviously a good number of use cases where this does, in fact, make tremendous sense, and I heard him use at least one of the holy IT trinity, financial, medical and education. And the reason why those guys have it so well off is because a) regulations b) control. A bank has many regulations and a LOT more at risk than the average company so the amount of control they can (and most often flat out have to in order to comply with certain laws) means they have no choice but to restrict their software/usage, and that restricted usage means a LOT fewer people needing random extensions for this or plugins for that or oddball developer software. These are also three examples of incredibly focused business fields. Fields where the overwhelming majority of the company is dedicated to a specific task.

Compare that to a company that I recently worked for where they had somewhere around 8 distinct "disciplines" and the software count to go with it.

Anyway the end of the day here the value in App-V and things like Numecent are in removing support costs where application delivery is concerned. And you do that in no small part by headcount, which is fair enough, but harder than it seems, because if I can get 80% of my software virtualized (and for most enterprises, that is VERY lofty and few outside of the holy trinity reach that) then I still need testers and packagers for the other 20% and I still need to support that 20%, though in fairness when I say support I largely mean helpdesk calls, which in a decent organization most of those calls center less around failed installs and more around problems with the software itself, but it's something, and I suppose if you have 6 packagers and 4 testers this would help you reduce SOME headcount, but in a business with one or two, that remaining 20% of applications means you are now paying a subscription fee to numecent AND headcount for the other 20%.

Then there is the issue of in-house B2B apps, but that is a whole other thing (and one that is just typically crappy no matter what you do because good developers are hard to come by, and ones that have an interest in cleanly installable software even more so lol).

And since this is a WALL of freakin' text I'll just go ahead and say also that twenty years from now this may absolutely be the way 99% of software is used, I really hope so. But considering how much ANCIENT software and how utterly resistant ISV's have been to improve the situation. It's been how long since Windows Installer was introduced and it only finally about 2 years ago started living up to half the promise that was expected when it was released, and there is still a sea of poorly written installers and nullsoft installers and people who package new software in old versions of Wise and InstallShield because they don't want to pay to upgrade and people who have locks on their market so frankly don't give a crap.

If you JUST use an app that doesn't interact with any other apps and doesn't use drivers and doesn't use shell extensions and doesn't use COM+ then yes, this is AWESOME...but so is App-V and you don't have to pay a monthly fee per app to use it.
 
@Paul - this is actually very different to legacy application virtualization offerings like App-V and virtualization is only 30% of what we do.

Compared to legacy though we can virtualize 100% of the apps including device drivers, com+ etc. Also all inter app interaction remains intact, including plugins. You can cloudify a plugin for example and it will interact seamlessly with a native or cloudified instance of the base app.

Contact us if you need more info and a demo

Osman Kent - CEO - numecent
 
+Osman Kent this ifs really impressive stuff. I've done a fair amount of packaging and software virtualization, but you are definitely taking it to the next level. Very impressive stuff. I agree with you in that this greatly reduces support costs in that you don't need to patch every machine, just the package and stream the updates.

How do you support testing? Say a client wants to test a specific version of the application before everyone else gets it? Would you simply assign the newer version to those that request it and then deploy it to everyone once the company has checked things out?

Also, do you have a way to tie into SCCM 2012, whether it is to tie into your payload or simply present the application as installable from the Application Catalog? It's a really compelling SCCM offering that eases deployment of packages to the user and makes software available on demand, depending on how you craft the advertisement.

I guess the one pain point I saw was the manual execution of the Adobe package. How did you handle that with your bigger firms?

Anyway, incredible demo, really amazing stuff.
 
+Osman Kent If that really is true then all I can say is, great! Because that will pretty much kill App-V and Microsoft has shown such a long track record of "not getting it" that I have little hope for it in the long run. And like I said, from a technical standpoint I have a lot more respect for the way you guys are doing it than the way App-V goes about it. This is definitely something I'd like more information on, I'll stop by your site.

And thanks for the reply!
 
This is groundbreaking! Another reason (do we need more?) to attract immigrant entrepreneurs/professionals to the country. 
 
Wouldn't this require really decent Internet?
 
+Jacky Alciné It actually doesn't require high internet speeds. I often give my demos using 3G. Also, you can even run it offline once you have the bits of the program you need cloudpaged.
 
+Osman Kent  I've seen Osman deploy Photoshop via 3G and it works. (and I know the signal was poor)
 While there are many technologies that promise to do bits of what Osman talks about here they tend to fail when you start using them in anger or you have to adjust the way you work (App-v connection groups) But this delivers. We moved from App-v to Jukebox (the technology behind this) some years ago and never looked back.
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