Friday, March 02, 2012

#CLOUD: "Cloud Desktop Boosts Small Business"

The next generation of cloud-based apps will be integrated by virtual desktops targeting small businesses with software-as-a-service (SaaS) that is accessible from any popular browser for smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers.

Cloud-based services are enabling small businesses to handle their customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, marketing, workflow, and other professional applications using the software-as-a-service model, albeit by logging directly onto a different server for each application. In the future, however, cloud-based desktops will allow enterprises to access all their business apps in a single browser-based environment.

Cloud-based servers already allow you to run Windows apps from iOS, Android, Mac and Linux computers, essentially renting a virtual-PC in the clouds. And for the enterprise, desktop virtualization is allowing businesses to take advantage of cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), which enables a workforce to run business apps remotely using tools like Norton's Ghost, Citrix' XenDesktop, or VMware's View.

A new trend, however, aims to lower the entry barrier for small businesses, by integrating access to professional cloud-based applications that today are available only to subscribers that have to log-into a different server for each app.

Infostreet's SkyDesktop gives small enterprises access to a suite of popular business applications from any device running a browser including Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

"Today small business users may have one account at Salesforce, one at gmail, one at Quickbooks, and so forth, forcing them to log-into multiple accounts in all these different places," said Siamak Farah CEO of InfoStreet Inc. "What small businesses need is a cloud-based desktop that integrates all their cloud-based apps."

For the next 45 days, InfoStreet will be beta-testing its solution that integrates the best cloud-based business apps into a single virtual desktop environment. This software-as-a-service environment, which is free during beta-testing, offers InfoStreet's SkyDesktop as the repository of cloud-based apps. Once the small business user has set up a SkyDesktop account, all cloud-based apps used by a business can be housed on a single desktop accessible from any browser.

The different business apps that can be installed into the SkyDesktop will be sold in InfoStreet's SkyAppMarket, where name-brand business apps will be purchased and made accessible on a user's SkyDesktop. The SkyKeyChain then allows users to access all their business's apps using a single user-name and password.

Today the SkyAppMarket has just a few applications available, all of which have the InfoStreet brand. However, the company is quickly signing up popular cloud-based apps for the most popular business categories, all of which will debut together after the beta-testing period.

"We won't have 50,000 apps at launch, but we will have 4 or 5 of the highest rated professional business app solutions for each market we serve, which will be the 10 or so most popular small business categories including CRM, email marketing, and accounting," said Farah.

InfoStreet will also be offering in-house technical support for each of the apps in the SkyAppMarket, for the first year, instead of forcing its user to contact each app developer separately for advice.