On Mobile Phones and Server Farms

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A web application like Zoho may all be “in the cloud” as far as users are concerned, but in reality it sits on racks and racks of servers and switches and storage. They occupy space, consume power, and most importantly, they produce lots of heat, which requires even more power to cool them. One other product comes to mind that has the similar kind of power/space challenge – the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Given how mobile phones pack a whole lot of functionality in a tiny package, I have wondered if the ideal server farm is just tens of thousands of mobile phones packed together. It seems to me that the semiconductor technology behind mobile devices is far, far more power efficient than the stuff that goes in servers. Partly it is a backwards compatibility issue, with servers having to run code written all the way back to 1980s, while mobile phones simply didn’t exist that far back. Partly, it is also a function of how traditional client-server applications were architectural monoliths, compared to the deeply distributed “service-oriented architecture” that is common in web applications today.

With mobile phones approaching very respectable CPU & memory capacity, packaging them together as a server cluster makes a lot of sense. Linux can run on almost all of the modern CPUs common in cell-phones, and the mobile version of Java seems actually well-suited for server use, particularly for deeply partitioned, distributed applications. Lightweightness is actually an advantage in server software, just as it is in mobile software.

So the day may not be far off when you use in-the-cloud applications on your mobile device, the same kind of technology powers both your mobile device as well as the servers. It brings a different meaning to the word “convergence”, a different kind of marriage between the web and mobile devices.

On a related note, a company called Azul Systems provides a cluster of hardware-assisted-JVMs in a box. They have specialized semiconductor technology to power Java applications. Such ideas could completely alter the economics of running data centers.

Zoho Writer Extends Mobile Support, Adds Offline Capability for Windows Mobile Using Google Gears

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As you may know, we launched Zoho applications for iPhone earlier at izoho.com. Today, we are extending our mobile support further. Coming just a week after an important update, Zoho Writer’s new functionality includes support for Windows Mobile.

You can now access your Zoho Writer documents from your Windows Mobile device. Currently we support Windows Mobile 6.0. Documents in Zoho Writer can be viewed using Internet Explorer on your Windows Mobile device. The current version supports viewing your documents. Document editing will be offered later.

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Windows Mobile Offline Support

One of the significant functionality added in this update is offline support on your Windows Mobile device.

As you may know, desktop version of Zoho Writer supports offline capability using Google Gears. With today’s launch of Google Gears for Windows Mobile, we are extending our offline support to Windows Mobile devices as well. This means you can now access your Zoho Writer documents from your Windows Mobile device on the plane.

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This video gives you a quick idea on how Zoho Writer works offline on your windows mobile device.

We again would like to thank Google for their commitment for the open source Gears project. As always, we can’t wait to hear your feedback/comments on this.

Zoho Viewer adds Document Expiry

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We added a new feature in Zoho Viewer last week which allows users to set an expiry time on the documents uploaded in Zoho Viewer. After the specified time, the document will automatically be deleted from our servers and the link to the document will cease to work. You can also set the document not to expire at all. Refer the image below on the choices available.

Document Expiry in Viewer

The expiry information is available via the Info link in the document page.

Info Dialog in Viewer

Other updates in the last few months include:

1) Japanese version of Zoho Viewer. If you access Zoho Viewer with your browser’s locale set as Japanese, then you will see the Japanese version. It was launched in December.

2) A new Slideshow link for ppt/pps/odp/sxi files, which enables you to run a slideshow in full screen mode.

Here is our introductory blog post on the Zoho Viewer. Do try out Zoho Viewer and let us know your feedback.

Zoho Mail & Zoho Business client-side integration gearing up

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Up until last update of Zoho Mail, most of the work on integrating Zoho Mail with Zoho Business was at the server side. Because of this, you wouldn’t have had the chance to see what we’ve been doing behind the scenes. Now, its high time for you to watch the integration happening right in front of your eyes. Yes, in the forth coming week starting from March 5, 2008, we’ve scheduled a few updates that are much of client-side. With these updates, we’ll be integrating Tasks, Notes and Links of Zoho Mail with Zoho Business.

We know most of you are using Zoho Mail everyday for your personal and official emails. To provide you an uninterrupted email service, we’ve taken appropriate measure to perform these updates without any downtime. During this period, you’ll not be able to add, edit or delete tasks, notes and links in Zoho Mail. However, you can do the same from Zoho Business. Once this update is done, you’ll find a centralized common Tasks, Notes and Links in Zoho Mail and Zoho Business.

We greatly appreciate your patience and co-operation!

Leading online college partners with Zoho

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Zoho is extremely pleased to announce our newest API integration partner; National Paralegal College.

The college is one of the leading providers of online paralegal education nationwide. NPC has pioneered the use of interactive web-conferencing in a classroom setting giving students the benefit of a traditional classroom experience over the internet. At NPC, students earn a paralegal Certificate or Associate degree entirely online.

Avi Katz, NPC President writes: “In keeping with its spirit of instructor-student interactivity, NPC has become an integration partner with ZOHO for the use of ZOHO Writer and Sheet in student submissions of assignments and homework. Instructors can easily share student submitted documents and make comments and corrections directly on the student’s submissions. This has lead to the furthering of interactivity between instructors and students in an Internet-based environment rivaling that of a traditional classroom setting.”

The integration with Zoho:

All assignments and student submissions are composed and viewed using the Zoho remote API. Students and professors have the choice of either uploading a file to Zoho or using the Zoho interface to compose their work.

Here is a detailed video demo of the integration:

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Zoho and Education:

Zoho continues to enrich the lives of students, faculty and researchers from all over the world – providing an excellent bridge between education and a broad range of easily accessible online tools for learning, collaborating and the creative process. To date, there are approximately 150,000 educational users of Zoho.

A recent appearance in DePauw University newsletter highlights the successful partnership between Zoho and the education community:

“Zoho writer and presentation allow users to import documents from Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to be edited or shared, and a plug-in is available to work with Excel as well.Like the Microsoft Office suite, all of Zoho’s tools integrate and work better together. Unlike Office, Zoho allows multiple users to share and edit documents simultaneously from any computer with Internet access.

In addition to integrating with each other, all Zoho applications can be integrated with Facebook, an increasingly helpful feature for college students, faculty and staff.”

About the API program:

Zoho is committed to providing open access to as many of its online application services as possible. Through our free API program, partners and the general Zoho community of users can embed the selected Zoho services into other applications, websites, portals and intranets. To date we have API’s for Writer, Sheet, Show, Planner and Creator. Other applications will follow.

We are interested in featuring more integration partners. If you have already done an API integration with Zoho and would like us to share it with the world, please write to us and let us know: partners@zoho.com or check out our partner pages at: ZAPP.

Zoho Writer Update: DocX Support, Thesaurus, Group Sharing & More

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After adding business friendly features like Pagination, Headers & Footers, Headnotes & Footnotes, Offline Support etc in our previous updates, we are further enhancing Zoho Writer functionalities with today’s update. The highlights include…

  • DocX Support
  • Thesaurus (in 10 languages)
  • Sharing with Groups
  • Enhanced Endnotes/Footnotes
  • Enhanced Headers/Footers


DocX Support
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Zoho Writer now supports exporting to DocX, the new Microsoft OOXML file format for Word. Ofcourse, we already support ODF Export/Import in Zoho Writer. Currently you can export any of your documents in Zoho Writer as a DocX file. This is added in addition to the already available export options – DOC, TXT, HTML, PDF, ODF, SXW and RTF. We will soon be supporting DocX import as well.

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Thesaurus:

We now added Thesaurus option (in 10 languages). Right-click on a word, choose the ‘Thesaurus’ option from the contextual menu to view the synonyms and related words. The current version of Thesaurus is used more for lookup purposes. We plan to enhance this functionality further to replace the words with selected ones from thesaurus in the next version.

Languages supported in Thesaurus: English, Czech, German, Greek, French, Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian & Slovak. We will keep adding more language options in future updates.

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Sharing with Groups:

You can now share documents with groups. This makes it a lot easier to share documents with multiple people avoiding entering of multiple email addresses each time you share a document. To share a document with a group, click on ‘Share’ and select the ‘Share with Groups’ tab. You can create new groups in your ‘My Account‘ section. These groups will be visible across all Zoho Applications.

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Enhanced support for Endnotes/Footnotes:

As you may know, we recently added Endnotes & Footnotes capabilities in Zoho Writer. This updates enhances this functionality further. All your Zoho Writer documents when exported to DocX, ODF, SXW & RTF will retain the endnotes/footnotes correctly. We now also import endnotes/footnotes from DOC, ODF, SXW, RTF files.


Enhanced support for Headers/Footers:

Headers/Footers support is further enhanced in this latest update. Full support is available when you export documents to DocX, ODF, SXW & RTF.

Apart from these, there are other enhancements and bug fixes in this update. Manual page breaks are also supported in export/import as well.

Do give the latest features a try and let us know what you think.

Provide Remote Assistance with Zoho Meeting

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Many of you would have wanted to remotely assist your friends or parents over installing a software or setting right a configuration in their computer. And support personnel have the requirement of troubleshooting a problem in their customer’s premises. While this was possible by tweaking Zoho Meeting’s options (specifically, by setting the Presenter as the Customer/friend while creating a meeting), this wasn’t very intuitive, and rightly so :) Hence, we came up with a ‘Remote Assistance’ feature in Zoho Meeting specifically for this purpose – providing remote support to your friends and customers.

To use this, go to http://meeting.zoho.com and click on the Remote Assistance tab. You will see 2 options – Start and Join. Enter the email address of the person whose desktop you want to see (person whom you want to provide Remote support/assistance to), and click Start. You should see a screen like this :

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And you should see a viewer opening in your PC, which will wait for the Presenter (person on the other side) to join the session. An email will be sent to the person to join the session. Otherwise, you can ask them to go to http://zohom.com (short form for Zoho Meeting :) ) over phone or IM and enter the 9 digit Session Id (that you’ll see on the web page) to join your session.

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Once the person joins the session, you should be able to see his/her desktop. Now, if you want to ‘take control’ of the PC and debug/trouble shoot issues, you can press the Request Control button in your toolbar, and you will gain control of the PC automatically! This should hopefully help you provide Remote Assistance in a few clicks!

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Do give Remote Assistance a spin and let us know your thoughts and comments. In case of issues/queries our id is support (at) zohomeeting (dot) com or srk (at) zoho (dot) com.