Update: This blog entry has an update…read the complete entry below and then catch the update.

I recently had the opportunity to sit through a briefing on Stoneware and Zoho integration. You may recall I featured this integration in a previous blog entry focused on finding a wiki for a school district.

Zoho’s suite of tools, quite a few as you can see from the image above, are all (note that only 3 are available–word processing, spreadsheet, presentation–but that more was promised as being available for integration over time…so, “all” may not be exactly accurate NOW…how’s that for qualifying statement? ;-> ) available through Stoneware which provides a “virtual” desktop to educators and students who choose to use it in their districts. I have to admit that while I’d seen similar products in the past, Stoneware has done a great job blending traditional applications and Web 2.0 apps (a la Zoho Suite of tools) into an easy interface.

It all depends, of course, on a broadband internet connection and the idea that we all have ubiquitous access to the Internet, whether we are at “grandma’s house,” the local library or wherever. It was a tempting vision and I confess that I went for it hook, line, and sinker.

Some of the questions I asked included the following:

Stoneware and Zoho integration is focused around the spreadsheet, presentation, and word processor. Is it possible to add additional tools, such as the wiki, into those available?
The answer was a definitive YES, Zoho is happy to work that in provided you purchase the services from Dell.

The private cloud implies that data is stored on school district servers. How does that work?
While Stoneware hosts all the applications–Adobe, MS Office, Zoho Suite of Tools–on its server and provides single sign-on–on its servers, all the data is safely stored on school district servers.
The representative was quick to point out that all information is encrypted and cited examples of financial institutions using their product that helped them fine-tune and secure the data transfers from Stoneware’s applications to the organization (e.g. school district) data server.
Single sign-on…what do you mean by that?
The single sign-on approach usually requires users to have ONE sign-on for electronic gradebook, another sign-on for other apps that are integrated. However, Stoneware does not require a single username and password. Instead, it allows maintenance of multiple usernames and passwords for each service that requires sign-on…and they can turn it on or off for various services depending on what the organization decides. All of this is keyed to your Active Directory logins and data storage.

Can you integrate MS Exchange calendars with Stoneware/Zoho calendars?
Yes, that’s not a problem to accomplish…and then proceeded to give a demonstration of that, blending multiple calendars into one as needed by checking them off.

Overall, I was impressed with the Stoneware and Zoho product, although I’m always a bit suspicious when they say, “We can integrate that for you!” which implies it hasn’t been done. However, watching the vendor display different desktops designed to mimic Windows, Mac operating systems for the benefit of the end user who may be accustomed to that, I was confident they could do it.

Here are my notes, such as they are:

  • Stoneware’s webNetwork
    • webNetwork is a private cloud technology that provides secure web access to applications and data, from anywhere, using any device.
    • End users will be presented with a familiar looking desktop through a web browsers to access applications, docs, and more
    • This desktop remains consistent regardless if they are inside or outside the network–on a Mac, Linux, or Windows device.
    • Stoneware’s goal is to enable an org’s move to private cloud computing where web and hosted web services are becoming the predominant number of enterprise applications.
    • Distinct from VDI and Citrix – doesn’t make any sense for us to virtualize an OS…remove the tether to the Windows tax.
      • Web applications like Peoplesoft, Moodle, Blackboard, OWA, Sharepoint,etc.
      • Hosted apps (SAAS)
        • GoogleDocs, ZohoOffice, iTunes U, Microsoft EDU, etc.
      • Windows Apps
    • Installed network on your hardware
    • Enables access to your applications, file systems, databases, etc.
    • Java application
    • Delivers apps and services to users both inside and outside the network through a virtual architechture
    • Interface is customizable and can reflect Windows, Mac OS.
    • Single sign-on is provided for anything you want
      • Don’t have to synchronize all your passwords
      • Stoneware handles tracking of passwords.
    • For Windows apps, single sign-on

    Update: This blog entry has an update…catch the update.

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    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure