NComputing, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based client virtualization company, has officially launched OneSpace, a mobile unified desktop environment that delivers Windows, Linux and software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps as a secure, contained experience to iOS and Android devices.
The launch follows a months-long beta of the product. OneSpace leverages the company's vSpace client virtualization technology, allowing mobile workers to access the full functionality of their desktop PC and Web applications on their tablets.
NComputing's aim is to provide on-the-go access to the "types of applications and file sharing services that are typical in today's small businesses," said Dave Burton, senior vice president of global marketing for NComputing. Supported software includes productivity software staples such as Microsoft Office, along with Web and SaaS apps like Google Docs and Salesforce.com.
The benefits also extend to small business administrators, according to Burton.
Security Works Both Ways
With OneSpace, companies can embrace the "bring your own device" (BYOD) movement without additional investments in mobile device management (MDM) software and services, said Burton. OneSpace establishes a consistent and contained app environment (known in tech parlance as a sandbox) that securely separates personal and business data.
It's an approach that sidesteps concerns about IT's reach into their users' personal lives.
OneSpace prevents one of the worst possible outcomes of overly-aggressive MDM. In some cases, when IT "de-provisions user access, it could potentially wipe all the data as well."
Generally, mobile workers "don't want IT to step on their personal data," particularly when it resides on devices that they bought and paid for, said Burton. OneSpace offers tools that allow IT to selectively revoke access without affecting a user's own apps and files.
Further, IT managers can control user access to apps based on their roles. Burton noted that it's not a strictly one-way arrangement. Users can have some say, too. During the solution's private and public betas, his company added "the ability for end users to request that new applications be added to the app catalog."
"One of the more powerful features of oneSpace is the file aggregation capabilities," said Burton. In a single interface, you can securely access and share files from multiple sources, including on-premises shared storage and cloud-based storage accounts like Dropbox.
Desktop Productivity on a Tablet
Despite the mobile IT revolution, the desktop PC era continues to cast a huge shadow.
Tablets like Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab are undeniably handy. Thanks in part to a growing ecosystem of mobile apps, tablets are quickly becoming the device of choice for running a business without being tethered to a desktop.
Yet as convenient as apps may be, many of today's workflows and business processes are rooted in PC applications, according to Burton.
While tablets steadily become portable powerhouses in their own right, complete with impressive computing, connectivity and even graphics capabilities, many apps still trail behind their desktop counterparts in the features department. Often, only a desktop application can get the job done.
When faced with the choice between investing in tablets or tried-and-true PCs—Microsoft's "do it all" Surface Pro 3 notwithstanding—many shop owners still find themselves sticking to tradition. OneSpace makes it easier to chart a more mobile future without abandoning the past.
"We're mobilizing some of their legacy applications or Windows applications that weren't designed for the tablet form factor," said Burton.
Both cloud-based and on-premises versions of NComputing's OneSpace are available now in the United States and Canada. Prices start "at less than a dollar per user," according to the company.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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