ElastX pay-as-you-go offers cheap apps usage

A service that lets software authors offer their wares on a pay-as-you-go basis benefits corporate users who might need access to particular software but are hindered by “locked down” desktops, said the Ottawa-based company.

Often, in an effort to facilitate technical support, enterprise IT departments dictate a standard desktop that doesn’t permit changes, explained Gord Graham, vice-president of marketing for ElastX, a service powered by Wrapped Apps Corp. The process for obtaining a new application, continued Graham, can entail putting forth a request to IT, “who will then issue it in the next update to the user desktop, which may be a year away.”

But, he said, because there is often no restriction on accessing applications over the Web, users can use a pay-as-you-go approach to access and pay for software on an as-needed basis with no IT involvement.

That said, Graham acknowledged that such an approach would work best for applications used only part-time, not “always-on applications” like word processors or a salesperson’s customer relationship management software.

According to Russ Conwath, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., using Web apps through a service like ElastX won’t upset IT because “the software applications have virtually a zero footprint.”

But there are potential issues to note, said Conwath. With any Web-based application, available through ElastX or otherwise, both the business and IT must be watchful of users replacing enterprise applications with other software simply because they are capable of doing it. “Enterprise applications that facilitate everyone working effectively and efficiently… need to be leveraged,” said Conwath.

However, having access to applications not yet sanctioned by IT may benefit the business, he said. “It gives their users access to innovative applications that they might not necessarily consider,” he said.

And, from an IT management perspective, pay-as-you-go is a way to deploy infrequently used applications cost-effectively, said Conwath.

But besides advantages to the corporate user, in general, the lifecycle of owning an application is never straightforward, said Graham. “[You have to] download a trial version and you probably go through four or five that you don’t like, then you have to install it, which may or may not happen correctly.”

Small to medium-sized businesses and consumers that are unwilling to pay full licences or may need to use software only on a part-time basis will find the pay-as-you-go approach useful, said Graham.

And the quest for mobility makes this approach palatable to users who want to access an application from the office, home computer or laptop without buying multiple licenses and “can store data centrally so [they] can get at the data from wherever [they] want to get at it.”


While the pay-as-you-go approach targets end-users, the process is meant to be easy for the authors of those applications as well. Some platforms that offer such a service require software authors to re-develop their applications on that platform, said Graham, but ElastX does not need a re-write of code.


However, he noted that ElastX is restricted by an application’s size and the amount of video and audio content. Also, some applications just don’t work well on the Web, like video-editing software, while others are best run locally on the user’s machine, like a disk defragmenter.

ElastX is currently in beta, having been released last July. More than 100 applications run on the platform, said Graham.

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