Ardence upgrades software-streaming platform

Version 4.0 cuts number of software images needed for target computers

Ardence Inc. this week updated its flagship software-streaming product to Version 4.0, saying the latest iteration is more scalable and easier to use than earlier versions.

In particular, a new feature called CommonImage radically cuts down on the number of individual "images," or instances, of the software or operating system to be streamed to target PCs.

Take, for instance, a company that uses a number of PCs with a variety of motherboards, network cards or other hardware. An IT manager who wanted to stream Windows XP to those PCs -- instead of installing it on their local hard drives -- would have to keep multiple images of XP for each configuration. Installing software that way takes up more server processing power and storage space, according to Jeff Hibbard, vice-president of marketing at Ardence.

Ardence's Version 4.0 eliminates many of those issues, he said.

Frank Yawn, IT manager at Time Warner Cable Inc.'s office in Greensboro, N.C., has about 350 Dell PCs, ranging from the latest models to Pentium III machines that are about five years old. During beta-testing of Version 4.0, Yawn said he was able to "whittle down the number of images to three."

Yawn, who has used Ardence for two years, said booting and running PCs via the streaming system is faster than when Windows XP was installed on local hard drives. It's also helped him extend the life of many PCs "by several years," he said.

Hibbard said that Ardence can stream operating systems and applications to users much more efficiently than virtualization products such as VMware. That's because Ardence caches part of an application locally, enabling it to use the local PC's processing power as well as the server.

Hibbard said that Ardence generally complements rather than competes with offerings from VMware Inc. or Citrix Systems Inc.. He also said Ardence can ease deployment of the upcoming Windows Vista operating system by allowing companies to roll it out from a central point -- and quickly turn it off if there are any problems.

Waltham, Mass.-based Ardence said it has 300 customer companies with 200,000 paid seats. About 90% are using Windows, with 10% using Linux, said Hibbard. The company is looking to add support for Mac OS X and Unix down the road, Hibbard said.

Ardence charges $250 per desktop up to 10 desktops, with discounts for higher volumes. For its data center edition, the vendor charges $600 for each server.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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