Startup turns applications into cloud-based software as a service (SaaS)

As the wave of cloud computing continues to ripple through the technology world, many applications are being left behind because they don't translate well into being delivered as a software as a service (SaaS) in the cloud, says Osman Kent, founder of Numecent, which aims to fix that problem.

The company's CloudPaging technology turns applications into ones that can be delivered as a cloud-based software as a service. There could be significant value in "cloudifying" apps: Kent says the SaaS market is about $30 billion, but growing at about 17% annually; native Microsoft Windows apps are about a $300 billion market, but are growing about 3% annually. That's a big market opportunity to turn Windows apps into cloud apps. Today, the company, which was founded in 2009, just got a $13 million funding infusion, led by T-Venture, the VC arm of Deutsche Telekom.

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Numecent's key is the company's CloudPaging technology, which basically analyzes applications to determine the bare minimum of what is needed to run the application on a client device, and only transmits that relevant data; everything else is available on-demand as needed. This approach which does not make any changes to the application code - reduces the amount of information sent to the device by magnitudes, in some cases eliminating 90% to 95% of the software's data that's normally sent to the device, the company says.

By sending this compressed version of the software, it is able to be executed locally, but does not have to be installed by the end user. CloudPaging "intelligently detects the aspects of the program needed to run it natively," Kent says. "It brings the agility and immediacy of the web apps, with the functionality of a native app." He dubs it "native as a service" or NaaS.

The technology is a spin-off from the virtual desktop industry, but different because the programs are actually being executed on the end user's device. Many VDI deployments have the software running on some hosted device with the user interface simply being redisplayed on the client side.

Forrester analyst Stefan Reid says that's a significant difference that gives Numecent a leg up on the rest of the VDI industry. Reid compares it to the music industry: Cassette players used to be a dominant form of listening to music because it stored all of the data on the disk. Then, MP3s came along and compressed the music data into a small file that can be transmitted. Similarly, Numecent is reducing these software applications, enabling them to be delivered as a cloud-based service. "Numecent technology has the potential to redefine the VDI market similar to the way MP3 redefined the mobile music market," Reid says. "It will push VDIs beyond corporate intranets into the public cloud."

The technology is initially aimed at independent software vendors, but the company plans to market it to telecommunications providers and eventually enterprise end users. Users can deploy Numecent technology themselves, or run a hosted version of the software in Amazon Web Service's cloud. Because the application is being controlled by Numecent, it allows security policies to be set related to what type of access a user has to the program.

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

This story, "Startup turns applications into cloud-based software as a service (SaaS)" was originally published by Network World.

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