Mainframe2 Offers Interactive Graphics as a Service

Mainframe2, an innovative startup in cloud computing and browser-based application distribution, has announced its support of new NVIDIA-based cloud instances at Amazon Web Services’ annual re:Invent 2013 conference. The Mainframe2 technology has been optimized specifically for the new G2 instance type, which features NVIDIA’s powerful GRID graphics processing units (GPUs).

The new instance types, launched by AWS on EC2 last week, enable Mainframe2 to scale its customers’ deployments to any size. The combination of AWS, NVIDIA, and Mainframe2 technologies enables any browser-compliant device to run even high-end computing and bandwidth intensive 2D and 3D design software in the cloud.

Mainframe2 has reportedly already seen a great level of interest and signups from thousands of customers worldwide. Independent software vendors (ISVs), enterprises, and individuals (scientists, graphic animators, etc.) are participating in the company’s early access program. But the availability of the new G2 instance type from AWS expands the program in scale (much lower latency) and geography.

The transition to a cloud, pay-as-you go model is difficult for design software, as completely re-writing client graphic intensive software such as Adobe Photoshop and AutoCAD for the Web is time consuming and expensive. This has prevented many computer-aided design (CAD), visualization, and like vendors and their users from jumping on the cloud.

Enter Mainframe2

Mainframe2 has emerged from several years in stealth mode with a solution backed by a team of experts in cloud infrastructure, graphics acceleration, virtualization, networking, and Web protocols. The company aims to give end users a new degree of flexibility through cloud delivery of traditional applications. This capability is possible as a result of combining Mainframe2’s novel technology with several key industry advancements in HTML5 browser capability, GPU architecture, and cloud services.

Mainframe2 asserts that it is easier to manage its technology than traditional desktop virtualization offerings, and it also carries lower up-front costs. Virtual desktops are difficult to set up and manage, as one must worry about administering the hardware, the virtual desktop infrastructure, and so forth. As an analogy, Mainframe2 wants to be to Citrix or Windows terminal servers what Box is to SharePoint, i.e., a hassle-free and cheaper cloud subscription service alternative.

Mainframe2 founders wondered if there were an easier way to handle graphics on the client and server side, and it has been their basic idea from the start to go after a full stack product, not just a data and graphics transfer protocol. With AWS Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) virtual appliances, one still has to build a whole lot around them to make them useful. A partial list includes solving problems of scaling, provisioning, orchestration, security, storage integration (e.g., Dropbox/Box), single sign-on (e.g., Okta cloud ID management service), user management, access policies, collaboration and session sharing, metering and billing, network optimization, and user experience (not only in HTML5 terminals but also in native terminals for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android).

Unlike other remoting technologies (e.g., Citrix, VMware, Microsoft RemoteFX, etc.), Mainframe2 takes much less time to transform existing Windows software into cloud-delivered applications. In addition, endpoints (client devices) ranging from PCs and Macs to Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones can access any application with just an HTML5 capable browser—no plugins required.

As a result, Mainframe2 hopes to accelerate mainstream adoption of cloud computing and enable a new range of users to get creative, design new products, and solve some problems. CAD, visualization, product lifecycle management (PLM), gaming, and other graphics-intensive software providers—which have been feeling the pressure to offer their products in the cloud via a subscription model—should take a good look at leveraging Mainframe2, while traditional remoting technology providers should be on alert.
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