Last month I made some predictions about the future of app refactoring companies like Powwow, Reddo Mobile, and Capriza, but it appears that I left out another company that has put together a product that deserves to be in the discussion: StarMobile.
The StarMobile product is based on a technology they call MORPH, which is the name they use for both the server-side component and the remote protocol. In general, the approach they use is the same as the other products on the market:
The “Something Happens” portion of that diagram is different for every product (and sometimes each application you're transforming). Star Mobile uses a technique they call “Fingerprinting,” which evaluates all the different screen or window elements of an application in order to see how best to transform it. Some things are screen scraped, while others are transformed into a mobile interface. This process works for both Windows and web applications
An interesting use case that we talked about was how they can use MORPH to create workflows across multiple applications with a single user interface on the remote side. With a single app per backend application, it could be challenging to find information in App A and copy it to App B, so being able to combine elements from both App A and App B into one mobile interface sounds appealing.
The MORPH server is running on Windows Server 2008, and connects to the applications in different ways. You create rule sets via StarMobile Studio (the obligatory application designer that every one of the products has), and depending on the application you’re trying to transform, create a headless browser or instance of Windows to run clients. The standard offering from StarMobile is to deliver MORPH as a cloud service hosted in AWS EC2, though you can stand up instances at other providers (or even locally as sort of an on-prem, single customer cloud), too.
On the endpoint, there is a client that needs to be installed. They use this to provide hardware information back to the MORPH server rather than relying on the browser’s capabilities and HTML5. They do have the ability to deliver apps via HTML5 if needed, though. They don't do anything to aid with MAM specifically (they're just about the transformation), but they do have a partnership with VMware/AirWatch and others to allow them to manage the applications in a MAM-like manner.
The landscape of app refactoring companies is pretty broad now. We have a company that is focused on Windows (Reddo), one that’s focused on web (Capriza), and two that do both Windows and Web (Powwow and StarMobile). No two companies do their transformations the same way, though, so it will be very interesting to see how this shakes out. I believe that Citrix or VMware will be making moves in this area in the next year or so, but will they be interested in Windows- or Web-only, or in something that’s more comprehensive? We’ll find out soon enough.
In the meantime, check out StarMobile. Their platform costs $5/user for unlimited applications, and they have a new version coming out sometime in Q2.