It used to be that large enterprises had a set playbook for creating and enhancing their key software applications. If, for example, they were creating a document management application, they bought the various software applications (such as a repository for storing and retrieving their documents), contracted for high speed bandwidth to ensure their data flowed between the repository and their users, and took a best guess on how much computing resources they needed and directed their IT department to get them adequate hardware.
Many times, a Snowbound customer would ask us what their optimal hardware system needed to be for supporting their repository in addition to our viewing or conversion application. For example, they might specify “5000 concurrent users working with TIFF, Office, and PDF documents from 1 to 1000 pages in multiple locations.” As you can imagine, we always had the perfect answer.
In those days, enterprises often used their own IT resources, along with advice from their vendors. In some situations, they might contract IBM or another trustworthy provider to run their systems in-house as an “on-premise” operation. However, things are different today and there are far more options for enterprises. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Cloud Providers: More recently, cloud providers for storage have become more popular and accepted. Companies have started putting their data in a “private” cloud that provides the perceived security of being segregated from other enterprises, but has the advantages of making the storage systems and data connections someone else’s responsibility. Ideally, the provider is more expert than the company in provisioning and managing those systems.
Hosting Centers: Similarly, remote hosting providers offer to store your servers in a secure, power outage, wind damage or water damage-proof building with high capacity air-conditioning and 24×7 security and access to the very fastest data pipes. However, the company still has to maintain their servers as well as install and configure the software. Easy scalability, along with 3rd party trusted maintenance, is also still missing.
Serverless computing – Along comes Amazon Web Services and other providers to invent a new model – turnkey computation where the enterprise doesn’t manage its servers, but only its applications. That model is “serverless” computing. Despite its name, it doesn’t do away with servers, it just frees the enterprise from server configuration maintenance. Your applications run in a “black box.” That black box is more easily scalable (now you can experiment with what configuration is best for your operations), invisibly monitored, updated, repaired and replaced. If you need more power – just add virtual cores. If you need more memory, just specify how much. If your needs are variable, you can easily modulate what you use, thereby saving on computing capacity if you don’t need it. You can truly adjust your usage to your needs for speed or tasks. Windows or Linux operating systems are available.
Docker Containers: A convenient accessory to serverless computing are Docker containers (provided by other providers as well), where an application provider packages all the applications you need (e.g. Alfresco repository, Snowbound VirtualViewer® , Linux OS, Tomcat, and appropriate JDK) into one bundled integration. Just add water and stir… or pop it into almost any server (on premise, hosting center or on a cloud provider like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or others) and it runs. No software installation or initial configuration required.
Managed Services: Building upon the preceding technologies is the latest trend. Enterprises spent over $150 billion in 2017 for “managed services.” Managed services are now taking enterprise computing by storm. With managed services, you contract with a vendor for a specific application such a call center operation. You may specify the hosting provider, such as AWS, the primary application like a Pega system and third-party products you want with the primary application, like Snowbound’s VirtualViewer. Your vendor, for an annual subscription fee, will provision, integrate and monitor your whole operation. They’re responsible for guaranteeing down time, updating software, protection against security threats, and configuring the software and hardware for the performance you specify. Of course, you pay for that, on a subscription basis, but many, many enterprises have determined that this model has great value for them.
What Do You Need?
Snowbound works hard to stay ahead of the market and provide its customers what they need and want. We can provide Docker containers for our products, serverless computing compatibility and Managed Services. It is a challenge to keep up with ever changing application requirements and customer preferences, but we keep trying.