Sunday, April 30, 2023



CloudNine is a software product developed by a company called Envisionware. It is used to control access to public computers and other devices. Its main customer base is public libraries. It supports a plethora of features such as library card barcode authentication, setting session time limits, and setting operating hours.

It is a new system that aims to replace the company’s legacy software product, PC Reservation. The two products serve the same purpose but are very different from each other. The main technical difference between the two is that PC Reservation must run on a local server within the building premises, whereas CloudNine (as you may have guessed from the “clever” name) is administered over the internet. PC Reservation uses a native Windows application to administer your public computers, whereas CloudNine uses a web-based interface called the Web Console.

The Web Console is simply a website that you login to that allows you to administer your computers. It organizes its settings in a hierarchical fashion, which is particularly useful if your library system is composed of multiple branch libraries. What this means is that you can define settings at the “top level”, which all branches will inherit from. Then, you can choose to override those settings individually at the branch level as needed. For example, if one of your branch libraries wants to have a different session time limit than everyone else, it’s easy to override that setting for that individual branch.


There are a TON of settings in the Web Console. Many are self-explanatory, but unfortunately, documentation for these settings is currently lacking. Each setting has tooltip text which is displayed when you point to the setting in the UI, but the text is often redundant and not useful. For example, the tooltip text for a setting called “URL for Logo” is unhelpfully “The URL to an image that will be used for your logo.” It doesn’t say anything about what image formats are supported or what the dimensions should be.

To install CloudNine onto a public computer, you first login to the Web Console and add an entry for the computer to the list of reservable computers.  From there, you download a Windows executable, which is what installs the CloudNine native client onto the computer. The installation is straightforward and once installed, no additional configuration is required. All settings, such as session time limits, authentication rules, etc are pulled down from Web Console, so the client itself doesn’t need to be configured at all. The client software will auto-update itself as needed.

The CloudNine client is basically a lock screen that sits overtop the Windows desktop that prevents you from interacting with the computer until you login to it. You are not able to see the desktop or open the start menu until you authenticate with CloudNine. Authentication is done using a library card barcode number or a guest pass. Once you authenticate, the lock screen goes away and you can use the computer like normal. (However, logging out of the Windows user account will effectively end your CloudNine session because CloudNine will relaunch when you log back into any Windows user account, at which point you will have to login to CloudNine again to use the computer.)

The downside to CloudNine being cloud-based is that, if the computer loses its internet connection, then it will not allow users to login and use the computer. However, most of our patrons primarily use the computers for internet access, so if our building loses internet, no one wants to use the computers anyway. The same issue could occur if the CloudNine servers go down, but server uptime has been stellar, and we’ve never had issues with that.

Overall, CloudNine is a very good product and I’m glad our consortium decided to purchase it!