‘The most exciting end user computing product in decades’ is how Prianto UK CEO Yuri Pasea describes Droplet Computing’s application container technology. James Goulding finds out more from company co-founder Peter von Oven
Since April 2018, when it appointed Prianto as a distributor, Droplet Computing has been drumming up demand for its patent-pending application container technology.
This, in essence, ensures the continued viability of missioncritical, legacy applications by enabling them to work on operating systems for which they were not designed (with no repackaging or rewriting required), securely, online and offline.
Von Oven came up with the idea of container technology in 2014, following a disastrous client meeting when working for a previous employer.
“A customer was looking to deploy around 30,000 Chromebooks connected to a VDI platform they were planning to roll out. A kick-off meeting led by the CTO of the organisation was held off-site to minimise distractions, with the world and his wife in attendance – people from VMWare, services people, people from the customer. When he arrived, the CTO took out his Chromebook and asked for the network password. ‘Ah,’ he was told, ‘there isn’t one because we are off site’. There was not even a 4G connection. ‘So am I to understand that I can’t connect to VDI if I haven’t got a network connection?’. Everyone looked at each other and nodded. He slammed the Chromebook lid shut. Project closed. Everyone out.”
Von Oven set about finding a solution to the particular problem faced in the meeting – the need to access offline applications on a non-Windows device – eventually producing a prototype on a Chromebook.
“This was what we now call a Droplet Computing container. It is portable, so it can be taken to your platform of choice, and, because your applications are containerised, you don’t need a network connection – they run locally. That was our first exploration of the market,” he said.
With seed funding from Draper Esprit, von Oven set about developing the technology further. His starting point, the offline aspect of the solution, was significant because it allows a company to run an application locally on a device, potentially reducing data centre costs, but what really excited him was the technology’s potential for organisations with legacy apps.
“A lot of customers were telling us they had legacy apps that they couldn’t migrate – old DOS or old Windows-based applications that kept their business running. Yes, they could refactor an application, reformat it, rewrite it from the ground up, but that would be very expensive and very time-consuming. And it’s not just a question of rewriting an app, there’s also the security certification, end user training and roll-out to consider. So we started to take these applications and containerise them,” he explained.
“We have produced videos in which we liken the container to a cup. I can choose what I put in it – coffee, tea, orange juice, milk – and because the cup is a travel mug, I can take it with me, in a car, on a train or as I walk around town. We ask customers what they want to put in the container. ‘I’ve got some old XP apps’. Well, let’s put them in the container. What do you want to run them on? ‘Well, I quite like Mac’. So let’s put them in there. Now, you can run your old Windows applications on your Mac. We can also do that on your Linux box; we will shortly announce the Chromebook; and we can do it on Windows.”