Blog Entry

Aug 24
2011 

Moving to the Cloud: Unshackling from the Desktop without Losing Track of Users

As an ISV, moving your application into the Cloud and offering it as a service is no trivial task.  How software is supplied and managed for the desktop is very different than as a service.  The usage and requirements of network connectivity, scaling, authentication and authorization, as examples, are all subtly different from the Enterprise model.

Once you get past the foundation of how to supply your application as a service, you need to solve the additional problems of authorization and utilization; or “Who has access to what?” and “How much are they using?”

The core value of your cloud application is where you want to spend your development resources.  This is what your customers are buying your product for in the first place.  These are the features and functions which solve a problem and differentiate you from your competition in the marketplace.  Authorization and utilization are things which, while important to the business, are not where you want your developers spending their time.  This is why when your application sat on a desktop or an Enterprise server, you integrated with [insert licensing product here] to manage licensing – the authorization piece.  In the Enterprise, utilization was just a function of how many licenses were in use.  How customers were using your product and how much they were using it were opaque to the business, and, so long as the license fees were paid, there was not a huge concern.

In the service space, the licensing mechanisms you used in the Enterprise just don’t fit.  Your application could be accessed from any number of devices.  If you’ve chosen to make your application browser-based, then you are no longer tying a license key to machine, but a user on a browser anywhere in the world.  Utilization stops being a simple matter of how many keys are in use, but becomes a major priority as you need to know how your service is being used so you can properly scale your infrastructure.  Operations needs to know how many users are using which functions of the software in order to correlate load on servers and the network.  The business needs to see how the users are interacting with the application so they can properly bill customers and see how to focus future development resources into the features and functions customers actually use.

Just as in the Enterprise space, there is no need to grow-your-own licensing and reporting system.  Sentinel Cloud Services provides a Cloud-based integration point for handling authorization and utilization tracking.  With a simple API it provides an easy way to authorize users on a per-feature basis and keep track of how much each user takes advantage of every feature of your service offering.  Now your developers can go back to worrying about how to best provide those features to your end-users in a stateless, globally accessible, secure fashion.