With products like Microsoft Live Workspace and Huddle and the myriad startups offering similar applications, one might think that the world doesn't need another online workspace.
That isn't stopping Symantec, which Jan. 26 rolled out a free beta of its GoEverywhere secure SAAS (software as a service) workspace that lets users access their Web applications from one location through a browser.
The GoEverywhere palette, which Symantec calls a Webtop, is intended for individual users or small businesses that want to access social networks, Web mail, word processing and spreadsheet applications without shuttling from one application to the next.
Because it is accessed through a browser and hosted by Symantec, GoEverywhere can help customers save the costs associated with hosting the solution on their own premises. Moreover, users don't need to manage, back up, install or update the platform.
Users can access their Google Gmail, Google Docs spreadsheets or Zoho Writer word processing applications in drag-and-drop iFrame windows as an alternative to the tabbed environment in Web browsers, said Don Kleinschnitz, vice president and general manager of Symantec GoEverywhere.
GoEverywhere also boasts an aggregated view of third-party online storage accounts to make file management easier.
There are lots of online repositories evolving, but that creates an interesting management problem: how to find what files are in what online service and then manage them effectively, including moving files from service to another.
To address this problem, GoEverywhere will help users manage Box.net files as well as Symantec files.
Online workspaces have yet to catch on in businesses because of the security risks inherent in Web-based or cloud computing. Experts believe most online workspaces lack the means to keep out prying eyes or, perhaps more of a concern, to keep users from exposing sensitive data.
Though new to this space, Symantec said it believes its reputation in security and storage will help turn the tide, providing businesses a service they can count on without feeling vulnerable.
Kleinschnitz said GoEverywhere uses multilevel password encryption and two-factor authentication to make it safe for users to access the workspace from any computer location, including Web kiosks. GoEverywhere also uses single sign-on technology to allow easier access to online services.
Users sign in to GoEverywhere to access their Webtop and associated applications. Users can also conduct Google searches from within the Webtop.
Kleinschnitz said he isn't sure how Symantec will charge users for GoEverywhere, but in this age of SAAS, a monthly subscription fee is likely, with incremental charges based on data usage. Symantec will lift the beta tag when it thinks GoEverywhere is ready to satisfy the majority of users, he said.