When I started this blog, I posted a few articles about Software as a Service (SaaS):
- Software as a Service versus Software Applications
- Software as a Service: Are we the telephone company?
These articles highlighted how SaaS differs from traditional applications in terms of delivery, pricing, updates, and access. At Autodesk Labs we've been having discussions concerning delivery. Whereas applications are obtained via download or DVD and installed, SaaS offers different choices. Solutions like Project Freewheel, Project Draw, and Project Showroom are delivered via web servers where users only need to use their browsers to access these services; however, there are other possibilities like streaming an application to a user's machine and running it locally. When considering these alternatives, there are questions we are asking ourselves:
Presentation virtualization - Does the solution allow an application to be run (i.e., displayed) and controlled (e.g., keyboard, mouse) remotely?
Graphics acceleration - Does the solution take advantage of available 3D graphics hardware?
User management - Does the solution allow for user names, passwords, and access rights? How easily are users added?
Desktop provisioning - Does the solution make a desktop available to each user?
Desktop virtualization - Can the solution run multiple desktops on one operating system or piece of hardware?
Application provisioning - Does the solution provide rules and mechanisms for deploying applications on desktops and mapping applications to users?
Application virtualization - Can the solution stream an application to the client? Does the application run on the client in a sandbox?
Storage provisioning - Can storage for a particular user be made available in a controlled way? Does it persist? Can it be local as well as on the server?
User data access - Can users work with their own data?
As an application user, perhaps you take the answers to these questions for granted? But of course I can use my own data and store it on my local computer. You are familiar with saving data to your local hard drive, a shared network drive, or some other location where your access rights are determined by you or your local admin - not a provider who offers a service. In a SaaS world, these types of things are open to a world of choices. For example, what if there were no files and all data was just stored on a common server?
Of these questions, which are important to you? Please let us know what you think: TheLabs@autodesk.com.
Pondering alternatives to a traditional install is alive in the lab.