Harnessing a Disruptive Technology Such as Glassware 2.0

Peter Tassiopoulos, President Sphere 3D

Glassware 2.0™, our technology to virtualize Windows and non-Windows apps and deliver them natively to any device, is continuing to gain momentum in the market.  As this is a breakthrough technology, we found that some target customers still want more clarification on the ins and outs of this product vs. alternative offerings in the market, the nuances behind containerization technology, ideal applications, scalability, and more.

To begin, Glassware 2.0 is our underlying technology for our G-Series Cloud and GW 2000 product offerings.  Many tend to call our related products Glassware 2.0, this is likely because it is such a versatile technology. John Morelli, company cofounder, and creator in building the app computing stack almost from scratch, was able to put extensive functionality in Glassware 2.0 and more. This led to all the remaining capabilities being referred to as Glassware 2.0.  We created a white paper Glassware 2.0 Description to uncover these nuances and those mentioned in the first paragraph.

The Disruptive Technology

An exciting aspect of bringing a disruptive and versatile technology to market is uncovering the first big use case.  Morelli mentioned in one of his blogs, Meritocracy of Software, how VisiCalc was the killer app that helped sell Apple computers and demonstrate the power of a personal computer.  We have gone through that process ourselves at Sphere 3D by delivering Glassware 2.0 to market and learning where it has had maximum impact.  Ideal scenarios include:

  • Highest ROI for the customer  
  • Shortest sales and implementation cycle for our partners

Favorable use cases are those that have led to the quickest possible deployments. With this information, and also because this use case covers about 90 percent of the productivity software used in the world today, we chose to focus on 32- and 64-bit end user Windows applications.  This is not to say that we will not move to productization of other parts of the Glassware 2.0 technology later.  While Glassware 2.0 can containerize PDP-8 or iOS apps, we chose not to productize those either, as the economies of scale did not match. Here is a figure to summarize our market focus.

It has been great putting Glassware 2.0 boxes in customers’ hands and having them use the products, and quite frankly try to break them.  Through this process we have also uncovered interesting scenarios in networking, specifically the number of connections, not the bandwidth.

One often overlooked characteristic of a disruptive technology is that it changes defined bottlenecks in an industry.  Anyone who drives through an older city like Boston where the asphalt streets cover cobblestones and then drives through a newer city like Los Angeles knows what I’m talking about.  Narrow curved streets were fine for the horse and buggy yet have bottlenecks for automobiles.

In this light, Glassware 2.0 has solved existing bottlenecks and yet created new ones for app delivery. Glassware 2.0 removed CPU and RAM as a bottleneck by making app delivery less taxing on compute resources, and therefore less expensive. On the positive side, organizations that could formerly only afford to deliver apps to 100 select users in a virtual environment (often a distributed environment if not completely mobile) can now deliver them to a much wider constituency in their organization; literally multiples of what they originally budgeted for.  Yet, imagine the strain this can put on networking equipment such as switches, routers and access points if a company doesn’t have the proper networking infrastructure in place.

We have had to be insistent in saying no to customers that have networking equipment in-place that may not be able to support the increased network usage that is a necessity and happy consequence of a Glassware 2.0 implementation.  I say “happy consequence” because the entire point is to offer more apps to more users on more devices at a lower price.  When we qualify potential customers now, one of the first things we do is to determine whether or not they have sufficient networking. Here are some other criteria that we have shared with our channel partners to help them pre-qualify applicability and prepare for a successful implementation.  The list is not comprehensive but simply a way to help you understand the difference between Glassware 2.0 the technology, and our Glassware based products. For today’s version of the product we simply look for three basic answers:

  • Are you looking to deliver Windows apps? A simple yes or no
  • Is your networking equipment sufficient to handle a multiple of the expected users?  We say a multiple because many networks cannot handle what their specs say they can handle. When Compute and GPU were expensive, these networks were never really tested and so no one ever found out that the specs for a variety of reasons could not be met.
  • Do you have experienced virtualization people at the customer?  We found that we actually don’t need specialized skills to implement Glassware 2.0 but we do need experienced people who know that what Glassware 2.0 is doing is groundbreaking.  For example, it’s important for a customer to know that if we virtualize an XP app that is not virtualizable using existing technologies (say it has hard coded paths) the customer knows that Glassware 2.0 is doing something that is new and otherwise unattainable. The customer does not need to know why or how, but must have had to try to virtualize that app and failed using other technologies.  Of course, if they know the how and why, that is even better.

When the answer is yes to these three questions, we end up with a manageable sales cycle that leads to success. If we were talking about Glassware 2.0 as a technology, then we could entertain a substantially greater number of opportunities but for now we remain focused on a subset of the capabilities to generate greater adoption in a timely manner.

The white paper, Glassware 2.0 Description is somewhat lengthy so, in the weeks to come, Morelli and I will explain different aspects of Glassware 2.0 in more detail and perhaps even have a forum for people to ask questions about Glassware 2.0 the technology and the Glassware 2.0 components in current Glassware based products.