Applications and Configuration Management Reborn

May 17, 2004

Applications and Configuration Management Reborn

Applications and Configuration Management Reborn

by Nelson Hsu

Recently there seems to be an onslaught of companies focused on the configuration and application management space; on average, we hear from two firms a week requesting briefings. It is very apparent that as enterprises look to deploy distributed architectures we should not forget lessons learned. In the early 1990’s, there was a move to empower the desktop by embracing client/server technology and lessen the reliance on mainframe computing. In some sense, that movement still exists as we see Service Oriented Architectures take hold along with utility computing and distributed applications. As we have stated, the concept of SOA is not new – anyone who has lived through client/server computing, federated databases and the sexy times of “middleware” knows this all too well. Fundamentally, the concepts and technology are the same.

Web Services make these architectures even more critical taking the network design, applications and distributed requirements to greater magnitudes of complexity. This realization has been driving many software vendors to focus on the management of these applications – case in point, the recent acquisitions of Merant by Serena and Marimba by BMC. Meanwhile, other companies, like AppStream, are concentrating their focus on application and configuration management with the intention of simplifying the complicated interrelationship between SOA, distributed applications, EAI, and EII.

AppStream.NOW.  The AppStream.NOW platform is focused on delivering applications on demand and providing greater visibility and control to solve management and deployment issues. The focus is to take legacy Windows and JAVA client/server applications and publish them on the fly to a web server for immediate distribution and use. Desktop clients are not aware that the applications are non-resident and reside as a Web Service.

With its inherent dynamic application streaming capability, one unique approach is that AppStream can be the platform for offering applications as a managed service. With dynamic instantiation of applications across perhaps multiple network infrastructures, applications can be served up on demand and across the network. In today’s 24×7 web driven world, one must have consistent control over their applications and even more importantly, look to be proactive in the management and performance of their business. AppStream looks to deliver on these requirements.

A Moment in Time.  As we look towards the future, we also continue to reflect at various moments in time. This could be one of those moments for AppStream. They have existing customers and strong backers after having recently raised $20 million in capital. Potentially the reason they were successful in raising that capital is that they span a few areas of emerging growth areas and have established at least one name-brand partnership with Computer Associates. However, they are also up against some fairly significant competition ranging from Altirus and Marimba (now BMC) to Citrix and Hewlett Packard (Concera and Novadigm acquisitions). If they can articulate their solution and execute quickly, they will be able to reflect positively on this moment in time. But beware of the sleeping giants – the long-standing vendors such as Compuware (see related article) who are re-defining themselves in the SOA space after being quiet for the past few years. Not to mention that the M&A activity has been quiet until recent months. Newcomers should take note of sleeping giants.

Nelson Hsu is Principal and Senior Consultant at Hurwitz & Associates, a consulting, research, and analyst firm focused on emerging software markets. He can be reached at


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