Fourelle Systems is targeting its Venturi platform at enterprises that want to provide wireless access to various kinds of applications – either on handheld or laptop computers – to their mobile employees.
While many other companies play in the same market, Fourelle, Santa Clara, Calif., differentiates itself through compression technology that it says can save enterprises a lot of money through reduced bandwidth usage and saved time.
Fourelle's technology is important for enterprises needing to get corporate-based data quickly and efficiently to employees in the field. While many companies have come along with technology that allows mobile workers to access corporate e-mail, few have figured out how to get data from back-end business applications, like Siebel, SAP and PeopleSoft, to wireless devices.
The company, which has been shipping versions of Venturi since 1997, has adopted an approach that relies on compressing data before it is sent across a network, reducing the amount of bandwidth used. Such technology is becoming increasingly popular, not only in the wireless space, but also for wired networks, as enterprises look increasingly for ways to cut IT costs via reducing the amount of traffic they send across networks.
Fourelle has built compression, protocol optimization and load balancing technologies on top of what it calls its ' bandwidth management' platform. Currently, it sells the platform directly to enterprises as well as to wireless carriers such as Verizon, which sell the technology to enterprises as a service.
The company says its compression technology differs from many used today in that it evaluates the kind of data to be sent, and compresses different content types in different ways. Thus, GIFs, JPEGs, HTML data and other data types are each compressed in the most efficient fashion for sending across a network. Once compressed, the data is sent across a wireless network using UDP, which it considers more efficient than TCP. Ultimately, says Fourelle president Patrick Glenn, the Venturi platform can result in traffic flow reductions of 50-90%.
At the same time, the company provides a small piece of software that enterprises install on employees' mobile devices. The client software is used to decompress data sent using Venturi, effectively allowing a user to get data quickly but in such a way that he or she doesn't know that there is a compression/decompression technique being used. The data could include personal information management content or content from business applications such as SAP, Siebel or PeopleSoft.
Whether it sells Ventur directly or through carriers, Fourelle charges an average of $15,000 for its appliance – a 2U rack-mounted server that sits either in a datacenter or network operations center – along with a $50 per-user license. Typically, says Glenn, an enterprise will order two servers for failover, redundancy and backup purposes. Large enterprises often order multiple servers for each of several remote locations.
Ultimately, Fourelle says its value proposition rests in its ability to speed up data transfer. The company says its quick ROI model is based on saving each mobile employee a minute or two on data transfer each time data is downloaded and then multiplying that by hundreds of employees and many daily downloads. Thus, the company says it offers ROI in three-to-six months.
Fourelle sees itself as the only company of its kind. It believes it is unique, both because of its existing track record of selling into major enterprises and wireless carriers and because of its technology.
On one side, Fourelle competes with BoostWorks, whose product has no client, and thus no ability to directly decompress data. On the other side, it competes with Flash Networks, whose product uses a client/server approach that's similar to Fourelle's, but doesn't target enterprises, so Fourelle doesn't go head-to-head much with Flash Networks, Glenn says.
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