The Widen Appliance continues to evolve as the hybrid between installed and hosted software platforms in the digital asset management market. There still remains an uncertainty in the marketplace about how to categorize such a hybrid device, so we explained the following points about the Widen Appliance to third party experts, such as Mukul Krishna, global manager of digital media practice for the research firm Frost & Sullivan.
- Owned, operated, and maintained by Widen Enterprises, Inc.
- Resides within the customer infrastructure
- Internal users interact at network speeds
- Integration with Widen data center
The consensus is that the definition of software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the most appropriate categorization because the device is owned, operated, and maintained by Widen. Even though the Appliance exists within the customer infrastructure, it is still managed by the service provider and therefore, most appropriately defined as part of the SaaS model.
As a SaaS provider, we targeted two objectives for the initial release:
1. Support internal workflows: The hosted platform was intended for global access and distribution, but it broke down when large files (20MB+) needed to be consumed internally. Instead of internal creative and marketing departments consuming this data at internet speeds, they should be consuming it at local area network speeds. The Appliance is intended to embrace internal consumption of large files without internet connectivity and place the files as close to the end user as possible.
Krishna adds, “what you are doing as a service provider is taking the most critical content and moving it as close to the end users as possible, making delivery more effective for workgroups that need immediate access.
2. Establish redundancy of customer data: A concern for contracting with hosted providers has always been giving up the internal placement of content and releasing it to another data center. The Appliance contains a fully replicated set of the data that exists in the hosted data center, acting as a hot-site backup to the hosted facility.
Krishna comments, “You are integrating end servers to your main servers helping to create redundancies in case of catastrophe. You always have content on premise and on the main hosted servers; that is going to address business continuity planning.”
The future of the Appliance is driven by two main contributors: 1) customer interaction and feedback and 2) proactive Widen development and marketing teams. These two valuable streams of information have established a roadmap for product development. This roadmap includes the following items, some of which have already been successfully deployed:
Privatized Content Delivery Network (CDN): Multiple Widen Appliances in different geographic locations connected to each other or through a data center hub that allows workgroups to share and interact with files locally. The privatized CDN has been successfully deployed for one of the largest apparel companies in the world allowing creative workgroups to create, collaborate, share, and track multiple versions of digital assets.
Search API: The search API enables developers to create custom searches or integrate with enterprise search. As the application progresses, a library of example source code will be available for other organizations to use.
Desktop Integration: Applications like InDesign and Quark frequently interact with files that are located on the Appliance. Designing specific search and use case requirements to meet the customer workflow expectations will be critical for establishing the appropriate functionality of this and any other desktop application
Other Applications: The existence of the Appliance within the customer infrastructure allows Widen to develop additional applications that can be presented to the Appliance and used by customers. This constant state of product development based on customer feedback and proactive development and marketing teams will enable customers to experience ongoing improvements to internal processes.