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Softricity Calculator Measures What's There

Being there is not half the fun and can be more expensive, at least when it comes to software applications.

This is the technology mantra of Softricity, which today released a return on virtualization (ROV) calculator that can be used to put a dollar amount on the cost-savings benefits of using virtual versions of common business applications.

The calculator looks at such things as deployment, applications update and support and determines the true costs associated with these applications used in an IT environment.

The tool then compares this with the costs related to using shared virtualized versions of these applications, which are streamed to desktops and mobile devices and may only reside on these devices for a short time, said David Greschler, company co-founder and vice president of corporate sales.

"A virtualized copy of the application sits on a server and is streamed down to the client where it begins to executive in virtual environments," he explains. "The more of the software you use, the more it is streamed to your device."

If this sounds a little like the 'buy versus lease' argument in automobile retailing, that's because virtualization shares a lot of the same pay-as-you-go characteristics.

While the packaged software model is primarily based on per-copy sales, the cost of using virtualized versions of software is based on the number of users and even how long those users make use of a program. Applications are no longer tightly bound to individual pieces of hardware, said Greschler.

Applications are streamed to each user through Softricity virtualization platform and policy-based management technologies, which, Greschler said, can result in better performance and less support and service costs.

"The 'pearl in the oyster' is being able to run an application in a machine, but not alter the machine in any way," added Greschler.

Maybe, but there may be a grain or two of sand sitting alongside that pearl. Companies are just now recognizing the benefits of on-demand services versus shrink-wrapped software, and may not be ready to jump into a personalized leading model of virtualized software.

Software vendors may also not be set up to handle licensing structures that are based on the number of users, the time an application is used, and even how that application is used within specific departments in a company.

Right now, roughly 5 percent of companies in the U.S. are using some type of virtualized software environment, not including virtual private networks (VPNS) and virtual server systems, said Greschler.

There is also a stigma about using software you can touch and feel, as opposed to something that is less tangible and, to some companies, less able to control.

Still, the "trend is toward software as a service, and the pressure is on for concurrency and subscription models," said Greschler.

The idea of virtualized software has already caught the eye of Microsoft, which last month partnered with the company to provide a version of the SoftGrid virtualization platform for its Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 and the upcoming version 4 release, said Greschler.

Application service providers (ASPs) also use Softricity tools to channel software to customers, although Greschler said the use of such technologies has changed this business more into providing managed services.

Softricity developed the ROV calculator with help from Forrester Research to work with its Total Economic Impact (TEI)-compliant tool, which is used to measure cost-saving and impact a technology may have on a business.



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