Delivering next generation eLearning to a global audience over a previous generation’s internet.

The deployment methods available to software as a service (SaaS) companies are fairly limited by the nature of computers and computer networks.  Traditionally, full systems with hardware and software were used and maintained by a single vendor.  As time went on, mainstream hardware became more vendor- independent and software was delivered as disks, cassettes, optical media, or even digital downloads.  During the “Cloud” era, software was delivered as a service over the public internet.  For many companies today, internet -based software applications are the best fit for the creator and the consumer.

Delivering software over the internet comes with inherent problems, each caused by the vastly different technologies in use by different countries and companies around the world.  Most internet protocols, while continually improved, were created in the early to late 1960s, this makes the system as a whole completely unoptimized to deliver high resolution and high bandwidth applications.  In addition to the internet, each learner will be in a different place in their hardware lifecycle with some having very long 5 – 8 year long cycles.  This means training must be accessible to a range of hardware spanning half a decade.  This is 11/3 lifetimes in computer years.  Each computer hardware and OS will access the internet using one of the majorly available browsers.  Four are universally recognized and must work for a website or SaaS platform to be recognized as a standard.  Of the four major browsers, there are different versions of each using newer and better code than the last.

With all of these challenges facing internet software delivery platforms, the solutions have to be creative and comprehensive.  The most comprehensive solution is to offer a standalone web server and kiosks, each preloaded and customized with the software platform.  This solves all three major barriers to effective communication and is sometimes referred to as the “Apple” method since it controls the hardware and software. This approach allows maximum potential for the learner, with equipment designed and optimized to run the eLearning solution.  A similar solution offers just the individual learner systems, providing an optimized hardware and browser solution that can effectively access training materials over the public internet.  This solution is only slightly less effective than a full training center, covers two of the three barriers, and provides for the same enhanced potential for the learner. The third and final solution is to deliver software over the internet to a wide range of hardware and software platforms while not sacrificing performance, but I’ll talk more on this in a later post.