It's not always easy being a small IT software developer in an industry filled with tech giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and VMware. Such is the case with Ericom Software, which recently experienced first-hand the disadvantages of not having the massive brand awareness footprint of any of the aforementioned industry giants I just mentioned.
In business since 1993 and headquartered in Closter, New Jersey, Ericom has specialized in making software that helps IT administrators access disparate computing resources. "We're an access company," Ilan Paretsky, Ericom's vice president of marketing told me during a recent phone interview. "We're all about providing access to organizational computing resources, across a wide array of platforms."
One of the products that Ericom produces that enables that type of access is AccessNow 2.0, which was released in early April. AccessNow 1.0 has been a shipping and available product for more than a year, and allows admins to access remote desktops and applications running in the cloud. AccessNow uses modern web browsers -- specifically those that support the canvas and web sockets features of HTML 5 -- to allow direct access to virtual machines that reside on a remote server, in a data center, or in the cloud.
If that functionality sounds familiar, it's because VMware has been getting a lot of press lately about VMware WSX, a new feature that is currently available in a Linux version of a VMware Workstation technology preview. I wrote about VMware WSX a few weeks ago, but it's important to point out that AccessNow has been delivering analogous functionality as VMware WSX for more than a year.
"This isn't meant to disparage VMware or WSX in any way," Ericom software development Vice President Dan Shappir told me. "VMware has done a smart thing in releasing WSX, but the purposes of WSX and AccessNow are different. WSX and AccessNow isn't an apples to apples comparison...it's more like comparing apples and oranges."
Shappir then went on to explain that AccessNow provide a number of features that WSX lacks, such as the ability to transfer files and map drives over RDP, integration with the Windows clipboard, and a host of other features. One especially useful feature is the ability of AccessNow to default to HTTP if the Internet connection degrades, a feature that VMware WSX lacks.
Shappir has also written a blog post that points out the difference between VMware WSX and AccessNow in more detail. Here's an excerpt:
Ericom AccessNow does integrate with VMware View, as well as Quest vWorkspace and Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect. Administrators can use these Connection Brokers to specify which desktops and applications are available to different users and user groups, as well as centrally configure and manage user sessions. Also, AccessNow is not restricted to one type of virtualization platform: it can connect to VMs hosted on VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen or any other hypervisor. It can also connect to RDS (Terminal Server) sessions and physical machines.
Paretsky and Shappir also mentioned that Ericom has a live demo of AccessNow available for testing over the Internet, which can be accessed at the desktop.ericomaccessnow.com address.
With the ongoing advances in browser technology, Shappir believes that the trend towards accessing VMs and remote IT resources via browsers will only accelerate. "Down the line, and for many, many use cases, I believe that browser-based access to IT resources will become easier and more popular," Shappir said. "You'll still get the best performance from a dedicated client, but most users don't need [a native client]...you have to match the best solution to the need, but I believe that the vast majority of users will eventually be using browser-based access."
Have you used either VMware WSX or AccessNow? Share your thoughts by adding a comment to this blog post or contributing to the discussion on Twitter.