quote) introduced its On-Demand Application Service, an innovative
solution to assist companies with the distribution of software to remote
users. In conjunction with Endeavors Technology, MCI's On-Demand
Application Service allows businesses to control software licenses and
track usage all under a pay-as-you-go model. Shirley Chun, MCI's Product
Manager was available to answer some questions for TMCnet regarding
On-Demand and it's contribution to corporate-wide usage of applications.
What are the challenges of offering a managed service on such a large
SC: MCI has a long
history of launching innovative managed services that leverage our
global IP infrastructure. Our launch of On-Demand Application Service
was similar to that other product launch efforts. The keys to
success were finding the right underlying technology and integrating it
with MCI’s industry-leading IP network and computing infrastructure, and
providing the right operational support. Also required is rigorous
technology and operational testing to ensure the service is fully
What kind of service level agreements do you have in place to protect
SC: The service level
agreements for our On-Demand Application Service are based on platform
up-time as derived from our networking and hosting service SLAs.
What benefits does this
bring to enterprise users of VoIP
SC: We are focused on
two types of customers; enterprise and software providers, including
Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Application Service Providers
For our enterprise customers,
the benefit of this new service is one of better software license
management and control. In today’s world, many enterprises are faced
with two challenging areas: 1) Use of IT resources for daily
management of application delivery and upgrades to ensure efficient
delivery and application updates and management; 2) How to capture
information on how applications are utilized and the user community
served. MCI’s On-Demand Application Service provides a centralized
platform for efficient means of application streaming only what is
needed to the user desktop, thus eliminating a portion of the desktop
total cost of ownership (TCO) in terms of application updates, patch
management, and minimizing associated support issues. The solution
also offers a level of software compliance and usage tracking to provide
customers quantifiable metrics on detailed usage tracking information so
that decisions can be made on how many licenses need to be purchased and
allocated within the enterprise.
For our ISV/ASP customers,
On-Demand Application Service offers a new approach to securely
distributing software on a large-scale basis. As part of the service’s
multi-pronged security defense, MCI encrypts the data end-to-end down to
the end-user desktop, providing a level of security not available via
traditional distribution methods. Also, because of the flexibility of
the approach, new business models can be achieved for managing temporary
licensing, which are not practical with current distribution options.
There is no strong connection
to VoIP for this service although client applications such as
soft-phones and remote access dashboards and related applications can be
distributed to VoIP users.
How easy is it to implement?
SC: The service is
easy to implement. On-Demand Application Service has two major
components; the application publishing process and the customer portal.
The publishing or
“transcoding” process takes Windows-based application as is and converts
it into sizable chunks which prepares it to be “streamed” to the end
user desktop. The Windows-based applications can be custom
in-house applications or commercial off-the-shelf applications.
The customer only needs to provide the application source code and
licensing information and MCI will provide the end-to-end service in
terms of publishing, hosting, and delivering the application.
Customers can choose to perform their own “publishing” and, in this
scenario, MCI will provide the training and tools.
The Web-based portal offers
customers a range of reporting options to enable them to gather
information about user and application usage. In addition, the
portal is where license information is invoked and policies are
established to set user hierarchies. MCI provides the ability for
customers to administrate licenses to users, which is ideal for
companies that want to retain control of the software yet give
administrators a certain level of control. These reporting and
management tools are intuitive and easy to use. After a quick review,
most subscribers can easily master the service, without the need for a
dedicated IT resource.
What Endeavors technology is MCI using?
SC: MCI uses
Endeavor’s AppExpress software as the underlying technology which has
been moved into a robust, managed service for our customer base.
Combined with MCI’s hosting, networking and management capabilities,
this service offers an innovative application-streaming delivery model
for software distribution and management.
Why did MCI choose Endeavors?
SC: Endeavors was
chosen due to its unique ability to stream parts or entire applications
to end user desktops in a secure manner with a suite of management
tools. MCI reviewed several excellent alternatives and Endeavors was
selected based on technological excellence and compatibility with MCI’s
business model for the service.
How does the platform integrate with MCI's Convergence Networking
SC: MCI’s strategy is
to evolve our core competencies in networking and computing to meet the
needs of businesses. MCI’s On-Demand Application Service does exactly
this. It builds on the software-as-a-service model, where software is
expanding from a licensing model to a subscription-based model.
Part of this on-demand model implies the ability for network and global
delivery and management. It leverages MCI’s excellence in
the fields of application hosting through out Digex capabilities, MCI’s
global IP networking, and our success as a managed services provider to
deliver a solution that addresses our customer’s computing needs.
Who are your main competitors?
SC: Today, we do not
have direct competitors that provide a managed application streaming
offering. However, vendors in the server-based computing space as well
as the electronic software distribution market provide similar solutions
for application delivery and management. While we view our
solution as complementary to what is available today, we believe that
our application streaming approach provides greater flexibility from a
network delivery perspective with no perceived latency and the same
performance as though the application is running right at the end user’s
desktop. There is a key advantage in the metering, monitoring, and
management aspect of the application that provides options for customers
who may subscribe to a concurrent licensing model enabling them to
better allocate the use of their software, or the ability to virtually
re-allocate license to another user based on pertinent, quantifiable
Is On-Demand easy to migrate to? How long does the migration process
SC: Implementing the
offering is fairly easy and straightforward. However, if a
customer is migrating off another application delivery solution, there
may be some planning involved based on the complexity of the original
solution. MCI works with customers to deploy the solution and can work
with customers to initially run the offering in tandem, helping the
customer to better understand the On-Demand service capabilities and to
assess the best migration plan.
Does On-Demand require training? If so, how much?
SC: The service is
very intuitive and very easy to use. On-Demand Application Service
customers are provided with training to help them administrate,
distribute and manage the licenses and the users. MCI customers have
access to this and other training information through its customer
MCI also assigns a company
representative to work with the customer to prepare and set up specific
applications for publication and delivery. Customers can easily be up
and running within two weeks or less following the receipt of the
How do you run customer support for On-Demand?
SC: MCI provides an
MCI representative to help with the publishing, as earlier indicated. We
also have an 800 number for trouble resolution and other questions that
may arise. MCI provides proactive technical support for the fully
managed version of this service. It is monitored 24/7 by our hosting
How do you see the state of the VoIP industry and how do you feel MCI's
contribution lends to the future?
Application Service is not a VoIP service. As stated above, it can
complement a VoIP service by delivering and monitoring VOIP client
applications to VoIP users.
Regarding MCI’s view on the
VoIP industry and our contribution, MCI is an innovator in this area and
is the first service provider to offer a hosted VoIP solution to the
business community through its MCI Advantage service, the industry’s
only true network-based communications product serving both enterprises
and small business markets. MCI continues to set the pace for
businesses wanting to simply and cost effectively take advantage of the
benefits of VoIP.
For more information, please visit
MCI on the web.
Michelle Pasquerello is the
Assistant Online Content Director for TMCnet. She welcomes your