Softricity renews partnership with Microsoft around SMS

Desktop virtualization specialist Softricity is announcing a new partnership with Microsoft around the software giant's Systems Management Server (SMS) Monday.

Desktop virtualization software vendor Softricity announced a partnership with Microsoft around the software giant's Systems Management Server (SMS). The relationship will enable SMS 2003 users to virtualize and stream applications to any desktop computer specified by company policies via integration with Softricity's SoftGrid software.

SoftGrid allows remote workers to access a company's centrally-run Windows applications. It streams only the code required to run the applications to the user and has the code execute in a secure cache. The company is announcing a specific version of its product -- SoftGrid for Microsoft SMS 2003 -- to provide the integration with Microsoft's systems management software.

The partnership is nonexclusive and will involve joint sales and marketing efforts, according to David Greschler, co-founder and vice president of corporate marketing at Softricity. "This is an important event for Softricity," he said. "It provides real legitimacy and value for us. It allows us to speak the same language as SMS."

Softricity announced a more limited version of the SMS product, SoftGrid for SMS Virtual Extensions Edition, in March 2004, which enabled application virtualization, but not streaming of those applications. Running virtualized applications separately from the underlying operating system and existing applications results in less conflict between applications and allows systems administrators to spend less time testing application compatibility, Greschler said.

SoftGrid for Microsoft SMS 2003 includes deep integration with the SMS Management Console, including a new tab in the console labeled SoftGrid, according to Greschler. Users can manage virtual applications from the SMS console and choose whether to stream applications using SoftGrid or use SMS's application delivery mechanism, he said. Users can also track virtualized and installed applications using SMS asset management discovery and metering systems and generate reports for both types of applications.

Microsoft and Softricity's relationship dates back to a three-year alliance announced in May 2002 around Microsoft's .Net technology to manage Windows applications as .Net-enabled Web services.

"This is a more significant relationship," Greschler said, which he hopes will result in a "significant increase" in the number of Softricity customers and deployments. Softricity currently has about 500 global customers including Mutual of Omaha Insurance, Prudential Financial and Raytheon.

Greschler doesn't see any conflict between Microsoft's own virtualization efforts and Softricity. He positions the two approaches as complementary, with the software giant concentrating on machine virtualization while Softricity focuses on application virtualization.

With much work already done on server consolidation in data centers by virtualization vendors such as VMware, Greschler positions 2006 as "the year of the virtualized application" for desktop PCs. Users are turning to application virtualization for a number of reasons including replicating data for business continuity and as a way of safely running different versions of the same software across desktops, he said.