Here’s something cool I came across a few months ago and tried out for a few days. It’s called Mainframe2, a cloud deployment solution that makes it easy for software vendors to move their desktop application to the cloud. This means vendors don’t need to develop a web version of their software. We were lucky enough to get into the beta program and ended up test driving RecruitCraft on Mainframe2. All we needed to do was install RecruitCraft on Mainframe2, perform some basic configuration and your good to go! Now we are instantly able to distribute our app pretty much like a SAAS solution. Users get a URL, they click on it and our app starts in a browser tab. Pretty cool given that we spent less than 20 minutes configuring it.
Well, you may ask, how does that work? For starters, Mainframe2 is build on Amazon Web Services which is the largest Infrastructure as a Service platform provider available today. First you need to deploy your application at the Mainframe2 control panel. Once that’s done you can set the number of clients allowed to access your app. The number of clients and processing power depends on the package you choose. There are two distinct packages available depending on graphical needs. Business apps don’t require heavy graphics processing so in our case the cheaper option would do.
What makes Mainframe2 unique is that it streams your application like a video. Optimizing the frame rate and frame quality depending on your internet connection. User actions are send back to the server and the resulting changes are streamed back to the user’s browser. Sounds simple in theory but there are a few limiting factors. The primary factor being bandwidth. If you are like us and located in a region where Amazon web services is not present, then prepare yourself for considerable lag. In our case we are located in Bangkok while our application was deployed in Tokyo. The performance was just OK (Mainframe2 beta program). Later we requested them to provide us with a Mainframe2 container in Singapore as we are geographically closer to Singapore than Tokyo. To our surprise the performance was worse than Tokyo even though we were closer. They did explain to us that the quality of the connection to Tokyo may have been better than that to Singapore and also Mainframe2 was still in beta.
When doing some thorough testing I found that pop ups go full screen whether you want it to or not. They infomred us that they had a solution to that and it could simply be turned off in the control panel. The next question was, how do we pass parameters such as user credentials to the Mainframe2 sandbox. It turns out they have an API that lets you communicate on an instance basis with the sandbox. We did not get a chance to try that out but I am sure that would solve the issue of users having to repeatedly enter their credentials in the case they happened to close the session (tab) by mistake.
I found that the technology and deployment strategy of Mainframe2 is unique and simple to use. We were up and running in no time. The technology is surely promising but the issue of bandwidth certainly held us back from taking the leap and moving our clients to Mainframe2. As the connection speeds improve in Thailand or we expand to markets where AWS already has a presence, we will continue with our traditional client server implementation for now. As of now, Mainframe2 is out of beta and open for public trails.
Source : Mainframe2