Open Text addresses Unix bandwidth challenges

A new release by Waterloo, Ont.-based Open Text Corp. should help alleviate the network and bandwidth challenges often faced by employees whose jobs rely on remotely accessing Unix applications, a company executive said.

“Traditional Unix applications are extremely network and bandwidth intensive,” said Xavier Chaillot, director of product management for Hummingbird, the Open Text Connectivity Solutions Group.

The new product, ExceedFreedom, is an add-on to Exceed, an application that allows users to access Unix applications on a Windows desktop.

But the display protocol that provides this graphical user interface to Unix applications is “extremely chatty”, said Chaillot, therefore ExceedFreedom makes sharing Unix desktops and applications easier by reducing the bandwidth requirements of Unix X11 applications by a factor of 100.

For instance, businesses that employ financial applications and access them remotely would save time connecting to the system. Specifically, he said, a process that would have taken 10-minutes would only take 15-30 seconds.

He added remote users can work on the same application via a shared screen, much like a “videoconference for your Unix applications.”

Also, it has a suspend and resume functionality so users need not waste time disconnecting from an application when it’s not in use, and re-connecting again later on.

Along the same vein, the add-on comes with a crash and resume feature. In the event of a system crash or connection failure, the user can avoid the risk of losing information, said Chaillot. “The minute the connection restores, you will find yourself back in the exact same place in the exact same environment.”

Considering the “explosion of people working remotely”, added Chaillot, bandwidth is increasingly an issue not for the lack of availability but for its reliability.

ExceedFreedom is application agnostic and doesn’t require any special installation “and automatically all your Unix applications become collaborative, become mobile,” he said.

It supports Sun Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-UX, Red Hat and SUSE.

The add-on is targeted at any business using Unix applications, regardless of size, said Chaillot, adding that a large number of companies in financial services and research employ Unix environments.

Besides the time savings of a faster and more reliable connection to Unix applications, this could also mean lowered infrastructure costs, he said, by being able to allocate the freed-up bandwidth to other operational areas.

Open Text’s general manager, Eugene Cherny, said the add-on “addresses real-time collaboration, mobility and resource streamlining” for organizations.

Additionally, IT departments can consolidate over-distributed and under-utilized Unix servers to centralized application centres, the company said.

Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc. noted that Windows and Linux operating systems are gaining an increasingly larger share of data centre environments as inexpensive x86 servers take over the work traditionally the domain of Unix operating systems.

However, users of Unix systems need not worry because it will remain core in data centres. “Nobody is achieving great growth, but nobody is dying,” said analyst John Enck, of the major Unix systems. “There is stability.”

Pricing for ExceedFreedom starts at $150 per copy. The product will be shipped in early March, but users can download a copy for evaluation in the interim.

With files from IDG News Service