Startup Offers Ed Cloud Platform for Hosting Applications
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A new cloud platform is coming soon that caters specifically to hosting education applications. Mainframe2 for Education, from Mainframe2, was introduced during TCEA 2015, a school technology event hosted by the Texas Computer Education Association in Austin this week.
The idea of Mainframe2, according to CEO Nikola Bozinovic, is to allow schools to install software and configure it to run inside a browser "within minutes." The applications are stored on "powerful servers" in the cloud and deliver the user interface to the browser as a video stream. Applications are administered and managed through a Web-based interface. The service can also connect to third-party services, such as Dropbox for cloud storage, so that both applications and data reside online.
The company gives users choices for where their applications are hosted based on geographical, technical or regulatory needs and uses data centers run by Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
"Schools are already benefiting greatly from having access to first-class Web apps, like Gmail," noted Bozinovic in a prepared statement. "Our cloud platform extends this concept to thousands of Windows apps. School IT admins can now deploy and manage all of their Windows apps from one place, without an expensive data center to manage and cumbersome VDI to operate. It's a huge barrier to broad adoption of inexpensive end points, like Chromebooks, that we're eliminating today."
One site planning to test the service is an Ohio school district. "We love Chromebooks, but ChromeOS doesn't run Windows programs. We needed a way to deliver apps that don't run on Chrome and had been using Citrix in this role, but it couldn't satisfy our needs," said Donald Clifton, technology coordinator with Northwestern Local Schools in Wooster. "When we heard about Mainframe2, it seemed like a great option to provide Autodesk Inventor to our students."
Currently, the company is inviting districts to sign up for an early access program. Additional versions of the service will be available shortly for personal use, business and software vendors.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.