Are all applications going to be virtual in the future?

Are all applications going to be virtual in the future?

Summary: People want to be able to access applications and data from wherever they are, using their favorite device. Is application virtualization the answer? Spoon's Kenji Obata thinks so.

TOPICS: Mobility

Kenji Obata, CEO of Spoon, stopped by to brief me on the new release of Spoon Studio and to discuss the notion that in the future, all user-facing applications are going to be virtual applications.

Spoon Studio

Obata took a few moments to talk about the new release of Spoon Studio. For those unfamiliar with Spoon Studio, it is Spoon's application virtualization product. The company promises that the product will allow developers to "Run your applications with no installs, dependencies, or conflicts. Deploy in standalone EXEs, with Spoon Server, or on"

What's new is that Spoon has released a no-cost version of the product, Spoon Studio Express, that has the ability to encapsulate applications so that they can be executed directly from a repository on

Application Virtualization is the future

Obata then went on to share his view that the industry is moving rapidly towards a future in which all applications are virtual. He believes that this will resolve concerns about application security and fears about data leakage. Application virtualization, he pointed out, makes it possible for individuals to access applications and data that is hosted in a cloud-based repository from just about anywhere, over nearly any network from a wide variety of end-point devices and know that any changes they make to the data will be synchronized back to the host. Furthermore, he said, this would allow collaboration between and among staff.

Snapshot analysis

The grand vision that Obata presented appears compelling at first glance. If we step back a moment to look at trends towards the increasing use of Smartphones, Tablets and other mobile devices, Spoon has a long way to go to completely realize this vision.

At this point, Spoon says that it "supports application execution on both 32- and 64-bit versions of all major Windows desktop and server operating system platforms, including Microsoft Windows® 8, Windows® Server 2012, Windows® 7, Windows® 7 Server, Windows Server® 2008, Windows® Vista, Windows Server® 2003, and Windows® XP." Unfortunately, this means that users of Devices running OS X, IOS and Android will have to wait.

One could point out that cross platform execution is still somewhat of a dream even though redesigning applications to execute in HTML5 is possible now for network-connect devices today. It is also possible, of course, for organizations to develop native apps for each type of device and operating system they support.

Although what Spoon is doing appears to be a really good start on the journey to an any device, any platform, and any network environment, the dream is still only a dream for many organizations.

Topic: Mobility


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • I'd be wary

    I'd be wary of any claims that "everything is going to be ____ in the future."

    Real life simply does not work that way.

    "Unfortunately, this means that users of Devices running OS X, IOS and Android will have to wait."

    iOS and Android generally run on ARM rather than x86: You're talking more about emulation rather than virtualization on these platforms - there would be a significant performance penalty because you'd be translating instructions between two architectures.
  • Not going to happen

    Let me qualify that - it will be one of many options, and this particular option will largely be constrained to large legacy applications that can't be adapted to a cloud architecture.

    The problem with virtualization of this nature is that it requires essentially an "always on" state. And that's just not in the cards - most people who buy iPads, etc. are not buying the data plan versions, they're getting the WiFi only kind.

    Laptops, similarly, are mostly WiFi - and even in those cases where you have a data plan (I do), I do NOT leave it always connected, because you're getting nailed with service packs and patches that download automatically. I bring the data network up ONLY when I have to.

    Cloud architectures fit this usage pattern so much better than "virtualization as a service." If you're in a disconnected state, the app can buffer to a local store, and push data to the cloud store the next time it is connected.

    You get the best of both worlds this way - your app can run offline, but by and large on every device, you get the same data in the same state, and in a device appropriate user interface.

    "Virtualization as a service" is a great way to keep legacy apps alive without install headaches, but is definitely no way to do a ground up build in this day and age.
  • It's a far stretch...although...

    I think that's a little far fetched to say the least. I doubt that applications will all be hosted from a central datacentre in the near future however, I feel it's only going to grow especially for businesses. Most people use phone and tablets in this modern era, they move from office to office and need access to their files. Virtualisation just makes it a whole lot easier and affordable.
    James Stevenson
  • I certainly hope not

    If this is what the future will be, then I fear for the worst. Putting everything in the cloud is a recipe for disaster. All you eggs in one basket logic. If the Internet goes down, which is not impossible in limited or full, then you are dead in the water.

    What about intense solar flares knocking down communications and therefore the Internet? What about a sudden, massive cyber attack on our infrastructure by a foreign power? Denial of service attacks? Think about how much damage a hacker could do by hacking into just one server? No longer would malware have to be distributed to every computer, now you have to infect only one or a small handful of servers.

    And this is along with the other negative side of the cloud: higher bandwidth costs, paying for software apps monthly forever, lock-in to a vendor, etc.

    It may sound good now, but there is far too much potential for disaster for my liking.

    • Are all applications going to be virtual in the future?

      I surely hope not, talk about security problems, big ones!!!!!!
  • As the pendulum swings

    The cloud is trendy now so lots of companies are jumping on the bandwagon. I'm expecting (hoping) that it will swing back as people realize that not all applications are suited to being hosted.

    Not to mention people will get tired of having to pay yearly subscriptions for software.

    Not to mention people will get tired of software being updated constantly outside of their control. (I'm looking at you, Yahoo!)