Softricity’s ZeroTouch: Self-Service Applications Provisioning for End Users

Softricity will ship this quarter its ZeroTouch software aimed at enabling end users to self-provision applications over the network – and in a protected “virtualized” environment.

The idea is to automate application provisioning, thus freeing up IT administrators for higher priority tasks. ZeroTouch couples with Softricity’s SoftGrid application virtualization platform to let users install Windows applications on their PC’s on-demand from any place.

Additionally, company officials say, because the applications run in a virtualized environment, the ZeroTouch and SoftGrid combination assures that applications will not negatively affect their computers’ function. “The applications do not alter the operating system that they run on,” says David Greschler, cofounder and vice president of marketing at the Boston-based company.

One key feature initially only transfers the minimum of an application’s files to the client environment in order to get the application running more quickly than if the entire app had to be transferred first. “It just delivers the amount that’s needed to get up and running,” adds Greschler.

So-called “on-demand” application delivery is an expanding area on the IT landscape.

A ZeroTouch user could locate an application he wanted to use and select it on a “Manage my applications” Web page from the client PC. If the user has permission to use that application, it is automatically made available on the user’s PC. Its configuration settings and the environment it runs in are virtualized so that no installation process is necessary. Files that the user creates, uses and saves are also virtualized.

“ZeroTouch makes accessing applications from a Web page from literally anywhere easy,” Greschler adds. “With ZeroTouch, it’s literally three [mouse] clicks.”

The ZeroTouch-SoftGrid combination uses SoftGrid on the server to deliver the virtualization environment and the applications. ZeroTouch provides the client software as well as features such as comprehensive usage reports and the administrators’ console.

SoftGrid costs $200 per user with a 20 user license minimum. Pricing for ZeroTouch will be announced when it ships.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.