A browser is a gateway to the Internet, to applications, to data. Many home users have multiple browsers; increasingly many corporations do, too. This might be because different browser versions are needed to maintain access to legacy applications while offering modern access to the Internet. Maybe it is to give users more choice. Maybe it is in an effort to reduce the possibility of a security breach. Maybe it is because users have just installed a second browser because they can. Regardless, managing user use of multiple browsers—so they are working productively and not bogging down the help-desk—is a complex undertaking.
Browsium, which has developed Browsium Ion to allow management of Internet Explorer, is looking to solve this multi-browser problem with Catalyst.
The Right Browser on Every Site
Catalyst is billed as “a browser management utility”. It’s early yet; this wording may change. Catalyst makes managing access to URLs using multiple browsers in the enterprise a reality. Catalyst is not intended to patch browsers, to deploy browsers, or (at this stage) to control functions within browsers. The focus for Catalyst is on ensuring that an organisation can readily control a user’s use of a browser for a specific URL.
- Need to access the CRM only using Internet Explorer v6, but all other URLs with Firefox? The suggestion is, try Catalyst.
- Need to ensure YouTube is accessed using Chrome? Catalyst?
- Need to disable all URL access for a given browser due to a security problem, as was advised by Microsoft recently. Try Catalyst?
Could you solve this problem with application virtualisation – with, say, VMware’s ThinApp or Symantec Workspace Virtualization? Or, deal with security issues with Bromium’s microvisor? You can deliver the browser, you can secure the environment – but Catalyst is intended to deal with ensuring that the right browser is used for the right site.
Browsium is developing Catalyst to allow you to specify the most compatible and secure browser for each website on every PC in your organization, regardless of default settings or user behaviour.
Multi-Browser Environments are Reality in the Enterprise
As browser choice has broadened for the enterprise and end-users, IT organizations are faced with multi-browser environments. Whether your organisation installs a second browser, or end users install and use the alternative browsers of their choice, this multi-browser trend is becoming increasingly common.
While multi-browser environments are often needed to address compatibility and security problems, they come with several management challenges. When end users switch between legacy and modern business applications or access consumer sites on the Internet, multiple browsers pose compatibility risks. In addition, using old versions of Internet Explorer on the Internet can compromise network security. Browsium hopes that this public beta release will help them solve these problems with Catalyst.
I, for one, will be interested to see if it is possible to integrate the solution with virtualised browser instances.
Pricing? Too early to say. I’d suggest fairly low cost per device, with a free version for personal use, but time will tell.
Kick the Tires
Browsium has made a free download of Catalyst Beta available on the Browsium website, although you will need to register.
Their intention is to work quickly to finalize Catalyst v1 for release early 2013ish.