The key trends driving the enterprise computing market, namely virtualization and cloud and mobile computing, may have opened new paths to productivity. At the same time, they have created a ferociously complex landscape where critical data can too often be out of reach. Although some of that content comes in the form of structured data residing in CRM or ERP applications, a far greater part resides in unstructured emails, mobile applications and other far-fling materials.
Vicky Harris, director of marketing at Virtual Works, calls it the "enterprise elephant in the room."
"The problem is ill-defined, but everyone knows it exists and is trying to figure out how to deal with it," said Harris.
Virtual Works is built around the idea of helping businesses navigate through the clutter of unstructured data. The firm is aiming to carve out its own niche with a software solution that delivers what Virtual Works calls "content virtualization."
"Our biggest challenge is educating the market about a new software category," Harris said. "In the early development phases of any new product category, it is always a challenge to demonstrate that there is, in fact, a solution to a pervasive problem for which people don't think there really is a solution. In our case, it's demonstrating that there is a non-disruptive, lightweight approach to tackling data sprawl that lets you leave your data where it lives, while making it available to everyone who needs it and is authorized to see it."
Virtual Works offers a technology it claims can deliver the "indexed enterprise," a unified data technology that brings into alignment information from virtualized environments, cloud and mobile deployments and on-premises systems. That all-inclusive approach seeks to bring cohesion to hosted applications, firewall-protected applications and public and private cloud structure. This breaks down the silos that can be a drag on workplace productivity.
"As vast volumes of structured and unstructured data continue to proliferate throughout the enterprise, employees are spending hours wading through emails, files and applications trying to find the information they need," Harris said. "Data sprawl has become a major barrier to business performance."
Virtual Works operates primarily through the channel, with a network of value-added resellers that sell, install and support its product. Harris explained that Virtual Works' VARs make an effective gateway to middle market customers.
Virtual Works' Virtual Index Architecture (VIA) is an open product that can interface with any commercial SQL application, any device and security framework. In the future, Virtual Works plans to make available APIs for developers to build plug-ins applications that tie into the VIA system, which is headed for its first product platform release later this year.
The firm is also planning to release a series of pre-integrated cross-indexers that will span an array of business applications, equipped with a native understanding of their structure and metadata.
"We aim to offer the industry's broadest collection of pre-integrated application cross-indexers," Harris said.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here