From the cloud, Numecent makes heavy software look light


Credit: Jordan Novet

Numecent has already made a splash with its cloudpaging technology for delivering full-fledged desktop software but converting and running it all from external servers. On Monday the company took the next step, by allowing its customers to kiss their own on-premise gear goodbye and run their processed programs for Windows (s msft) from Amazon (s amzn) Web Services.

The model is appealing for software companies that want to keep providing their heavy-duty programs made for desktop use — think of Adobe (s adbe) Photoshop — and that don’t want to get squeezed out by new-age Software as a Service (SaaS) built for in-browser consumption. They want to keep making money through license sales, and they don’t want customers to have to wait a long time to downloading software. Now they can do these things with less of a burden on their own existing equipments.

Prepping programs for delivery in the compact cloudpaging model, on Amazon Web Services or otherwise, isn’t an engineering challenge. “You don’t have to integrate any software. We can onboard you in half a day,” said Osman Kent, the company’s CEO and one of its founders.

The new offering, which Numecent calls Native as a Service (NaaS), can also come with a cloud-based license-enrollment program, Kent said.

Cloudpaging — Numecent’s name for the underlying technology enabling its NaaS — goes beyond pixel streaming, which Kent said he invented many years ago. It provides all the functionality of a desktop application that might ordinarily take up lots of disk space, but it actually runs the application somewhere else and makes everything available after just a few seconds of downloading. And that means people can gain access to programs even when internet connection is slow.

At the same time, the company doesn’t have to maintain huge amounts of compute power for this. “We have a very small CPU footprint,” Kent said. “If you had a million people using Photoshop, you would have had a million Photoshops running on the server side, whereas in our instance, although we are fetching information from servers, the execution is actually taking place on the client, so it’s a distributed system, and that’s the reason why it can scale.” Such a distributed system can take advantage of powerful graphic-processing units (GPUs) available on local computers, too, he said.

It makes sense for Numecent to to do this stuff. While software vendors might like the cloudpaging pitch, they might want to shift more of their operations to multi-tenant infrastructure. This gives them the chance to do so. And Numecent won’t stop there. It plans to peddle cloud-based cloudpaging to enterprises, telcos and other businesses.

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