Commendo Software’s Virtual Foundation
by Fern Halper and Marcia Kaufman, Partners
What happens when your web-based business intelligence application meets too much data? As companies begin to take advantage of highly interactive and information-rich, web-based business intelligence (BI) applications, IT managers often find that the benefits of advanced capabilities must be weighed against new concerns related to security and network performance. For example, remotely located division managers for a global manufacturing organization require very large amounts of data to test alternative decision making scenarios using their BI applications, adding stress to the data center.
User Frustration Because of Performance and Security Issues Is Not an Option
Network performance issues can cause problems such as lost data and delays in getting data. These issues are magnified when the web-based application requires complicated catalogues of information resulting in lots of data moving through the network. A typical user stays connected to the web to access data when needed, and long download times can mean that critical analytical work is postponed, thereby losing its effectiveness. Plant managers cannot afford to wait around for minutes at a time for a simple query to generate a response. A sales person cannot afford to wait around, trying to get information from a web-based application about a customer that she was supposed to be meeting with a half hour ago.
Some companies try to get around this problem by modifying the application on the server side or implementing cache engines in the network. Cache engines can be an expensive solution for transactional data because they still require servers, software, and monitoring. The user’s desire for improved performance can be at odds with IT department efforts to reduce the load on the network and control data center costs.
Commendo Software’s Virtual Foundation
Commendo Software has developed a solution that virtualizes the information required by a user working with a web-based application. A user-specific subset of data is loaded from the corporate data center onto an individual user’s PC or mobile computing device using what Commendo’s patent pending software calls a micro server.
The information is considered virtualized because the browser acts as if it is communicating with a network server when, in actuality, the browser is communicating with the micro server. There are three key differentiating capabilities of this micro server approach: the software runs behind the PC firewall; the software is tied to the unique user ID, providing unique user tracking; and the software is optimized within the PC architecture. This allows the user to work in a trusted privacy zone within the PC and to connect to the main network only when needed ? to access data on demand.
The application and the data are put in memory on the micro server, which is embedded with a small footprint into the user’s computing device, so that the user can work with the web-based application with out actually being connected to the web. Some of the key benefits of this approach include eliminating bandwidth constraints and offloading work from the data center.
Commendo’s current focus is on analytical applications such as those from Cognos and Seibel. At the moment, it is completing the implementation of its solution for Cemex S.A., one of the world’s largest producers of cement products. Cemex needs to bring sophisticated Cognos business intelligence capabilities to plant managers in remote locations in Mexico. Commendo also has several pilots in progress involving companies with large database-heavy consumer shopping applications.
The Value of the Commendo Approach
Cemex had a very specific set of problems related to the large amounts of data required to support their plant mangers’ use of Cognos business intelligence reports and analytics. The BI users are located in distant locations with limited bandwidth. Cemex already had substantial infrastructure at their worldwide data center to support the BI applications, but it found that, as use of the BI tools grew, the demands for additional hardware grew as well. After installing Commendo software in the desktops in their Mexican plants, they were able to meet their goal of improving response time without investing in additional bandwidth. Cemex found that the BI users could resolve a query in seconds as compared to a minute prior to the Commendo deployment.
In Hurwitz & Associates’ view, the successful implementation of the Commendo technology can result in better performance, lower costs, and increased user/customer satisfaction. We have not seen anything quite like this technology in the market. While there are alternative ways to resolve network performance and security problems, Commendo has developed an intuitive and innovative approach that should spark the interest of any company with data-intensive web applications and a geographically dispersed work force.