When Open Software Associates began life in late 1990, managing director John Cromie knew things were going to be tough. The company had been a software shop within Hewlett-Packard until downsizing saw the division sliced off and taken over by its employees.
What followed were two years of losses, as the company struggled to set up markets for its OpenUI client-based GUI development tool for TCP/IP-based open systems platforms.
But what has followed has been three years of profits. The turning point came in 1994-95. "We saw that we had an enormous opportunity for intranet application development, as opposed to ordinary client/server," said Cromie. "Our product fitted the Internet, because it was based on the TCP/IP protocol."
Along the way OSA also developed a product called netDeploy, a software program for deploying applications and content across the Internet that has also served to pull OSA into the "push" technology debate.
Now into its second incarnation, netDeploy works in the following way. When a remote user hooks into their central application, a message is sent between the two that determines if the application resident on your client PC is the most up-to-date version.
If it is, nothing happens, but: "If there's been an update, it comes back and says, would you like to take the update now?" said Cromie. "And if you say yes, it will only download those little bits that have changed."
Cromie says netDeploy has won favour in many major corporates, and is ideal for applications such as updating product catalogues, where only a few fields may change at any given time.
The software itself consists of two components, the Packer and the Launcher.
The Packer is used by application developers to prepare the application for deployment, while the Launcher is responsible for notifying the user of changes and downloading the appropriate software.
He describes netDeploy as a "pull" technology, distinguishable from the "push" technologies currently being touted. Users only receive updates on request, rather than have them automatically broadcast out.
The product has also been the subject of a number of OEM deals, with Borland and Progress Software.
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