Make room for Awingu, a Ghent, Belgium-based developer of workspace business software, which has become the latest option on Microsoft's Azure cloud.
The deal, announced July 14 at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, Fla., brings the unusually named company to the North American market for the first time. Awingu—the word itself has no meaning in any other language— is only three years old but has already carved out a large cloud services market niche in Europe.
The Awingu cloud service provides a central workspace that requires no configuration or software installation on a mobile device itself. Users can create documents, images, video, spreadsheets or anything else in any app they want on any device they want to use. All that is required is a user, an Internet connection and an HTML 5 browser.
This takes the virtual desktop idea for smartphones and tablets to a new level because no agent needs to be loaded onto the device, and no files or data are ever stored on the device. The management software resides on an appliance in the data center; all apps are centrally located on company servers and connected to devices by the Web, and all files and data are stored in company storage, whether on premises or in the cloud.
Said to Work Right Out of the Box
Awingu works out of the box to provide bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobility functionality in the Azure cloud, CEO Walter Van Uytven told eWEEK. But what may be most interesting about Awingu is that enterprises with older apps that still work just fine can convert them to give them new life as hosted services. This means those apps can pretty much live forever and ever, amen, in the cloud.
Awingu's Web-based central workspace requires no configuration of software installation on the client itself, and works out of the box to address mass mobility and BYOD trends in the workplace.
Why Microsoft Azure, when there are quite a few cloud providers in the United States from which to choose?
"Microsoft products are present in 99 percent of enterprises, and what we are delivering with the Awingu workspace can be used by anybody in any company," Van Uytven said. "We have a very horizontal approach to the markets; so does Microsoft. We can serve the small business, and we can serve the large enterprise. They all have Windows somewhere.
"Microsoft has changed a lot in the last several years. We couldn't have gotten a meeting with them eight years ago; now, with the new CEO [Satya Nadella], Microsoft welcomes us. Just the fact that we have a partnership with Microsoft shows how much it has progressed."
Revamping Legacy Apps for Cloud Has Been Difficult to Do
Generally, it's been too costly or difficult for companies to move legacy applications to the cloud. This has been a large barrier that prevents companies from fully migrating to a cloud platform, Dirk Thomaere, Awingu’s vice president and chief operating officer, told eWEEK.
"Many companies still benefit from legacy in-house applications like [IBM's] AS/400, but they also see the value of moving to a cloud-based platform to empower a mobile workforce," Thomaere said. "Awingu's central workspace addresses all these issues in a simple way while allowing IT assets to be centrally managed with improved security."
Awingu is based on a "per concurrent user" licensing model in which customers choose between a perpetual license (with maintenance and support) and a subscription. For example, a subscription is $7 per month for each concurrent user, and the first line of support and warranty is through a network of Awingu certified partners.