Playing with SoftGrid…

As you may or may not know, MSFT acquired a company named Softricity over the summer (  The acquisition is now complete and we will be announcing the roadmap and integration of this killer technology in the coming months.  I feel that this 'app vitalization stuff' is going to be VERY huge in the next few years at least...

Anyway, so I have been playing around with the current SoftGrid Product - what has surprised me is the ease at which the product 'just works'.  For those who have been tasked with application packaging for distribution via SMS or other software deployment tool, getting acclimated to SoftGrid and the process of sequencing an application is a very short learning curve.  The architecture of SofGrid is also pretty straightforward - and again, just works!

So what does it do?  SoftGrid allows you to package or 'sequence' an application in order to deploy it 'on use'.  It provides an architecture that allows you to stream only the bits of the application that are needed at the time the application is run.  It has mechanisms to cache this stream so that any other subsequent uses of that app by the user(s) with access to it don't have to wait for the app to stream again (initial run time depends on the complexity of the app but if sequenced correctly, most apps should be ready to roll within 15-20 seconds when run for the first time - if it is already cached - it is basically the same speed as if it was normally installed).  The benefits to this technology are many - among them:

  • Software can now truly be delivered as a service - much like electricity.
  • Software can be secured and adhere to true enforcement policies such as concurrent maximum usage, expirations, permissions given only to those that need to run an application even if they somehow have access to the sequenced app, etc.
  • Better then Terminal Services/Citrix in many ways:

    • Apps run on the local OS so you do not need to worry about Citrix/TS Server sizing based on the number of users/apps
    • Apps can be completely cached for offline use and run just fine (while adhering to whatever policies you set forth that dictate their usage!)
    • No weird gateways/extra creds/TS profiles/etc, etc., etc.

  • The addition (or subtraction) of any app, no matter how ugly, takes place in a blink of an eye regardless of the number of target users or machines.
  • SoftGrid already integrates with SMS.  This integration allows you to deploy and manage the use of SoftGrid apps via your SMS infrastructure.  What's more, unlike a competing app virtualization product which I will not name, SMS can inventory where these virtualized apps are installed and being used - it will even alert you to the fact that they are virtualized versus formally installed.
  • SoftGrid also has a 'ZeroTouch' feature which is a prebuilt web-based way for authorized users to get at the applications they are authorized to run.  This comes complete with self-service and basic workflow capabilities to allow user to request and/or provision their own applications on the fly.

To drive my last point above home, below is a screen shot of one of my test machines running as a SoftGrid client:

Look closely - notice that I am successfully running PowerPoint XP and PowerPoint 2003 AT THE SAME TIME!  This is possible because although both applications are running locally, they are running in their own virtualized space and therefore do not conflict with one another.  Imagine the potential here when attempting to move to a newer version of something or needing to coexist two conflicting applications for the sake of some legacy but mission critical application.

SoftGrid has a high potential of resolving a LOT of headaches!!!

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’s like to talk to someone who has successfully sequenced a few apps. I would like to start with a successful sequence instead of a frustrating failure.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kevin posted a great write-up on SoftGrid and I just now have had a chance to read it.  Nice work…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where do I sign up? I saw this at MMS but Kevin makes it a little more clear. Original source: Playing

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