As I wrote a few weeks ago, the fact that VMworld 2008 had over 200 vendors and exhibitors is a bit overwhelming at first. After going to the show, I realized that only about 30 or so of the 200+ vendors made products that were relevant in the desktop and application virtualization spaces. I tried to visit and learn about as many of those vendors as I could at the conference. Last week I published Part 1 of the vendor round-up, and today's article is Part 2.
Continuing our round-up (in alphabetical order)...
Neocleus is a software company who makes "endpoint virtualization" product, which is essentially a Type 1 hypervisor running on the client / endpoint device itself. The primary use case for this is the "local / offline VDI, and it's one of the key enabling technologies that's needed for the 2010 VDI+ vision. Now that VMware showed off their "vClient" bare-metal hypervisor thingy at VMworld, Citrix will have to do something in this space. And guess what? The Neocleus solution is Xen-based! Citrix should buy this company ASAP. (Note: Another exhibitor called "Virtual Computer" has a very similar solution. You can read about them later in the article. Citrix could optionally buy them instead of Neocleus.)
Pano Logic is a hardware and software company. They make a little tiny desktop device that looks like a thin client, although technically it's not a thin client--it's a "zero client." The device has no CPU, no memory, and no firmware. (Similar to the Teradici "puck" client.) Actually, the whole Pano thing sounds a lot like Teradici, except Pano's back end is all software, while Teradici requires custom hardware in the datacenter to power their pucks.
Pano Logic sell these zero clients as part of a complete virtual desktop solution. They have a management server (which is actually available as a virtual appliance) that renders the login screens and stuff for the users, and then once the user authenticates, they're routed to a Windows desktop instance in the datacenter. (Like many solutions, there's what essentially amounts to a Pano Logic driver pack loaded on the desktop VM that recognizes the remote zero client as local hardware.
Pano uses a proprietary protocol that remotes the display at the I/O level, not the GDI level (which again is why this is similar to Teradici). They claim their protocol is adaptive and works well enough over the WAN, although I haven't personally tested that yet.
Virtual Strategy magazine recorded this demo of Pano Logic on the show floor:
Perhaps the coolest thing about Pano is the design of the client device itself. It's made of metal and really shiny. The display connector is recessed, so it looks kind of like shiny block sitting on the desk. Wired wrote that the Pano box is both "sex and art," which is kind of cool props for something not made by Apple. (Of course that same Wired article also called it a "thin client," so I guess maybe that kills their street cred.)
Quest Software / Provision Networks Division
Quest Software bought Provision Networks almost a year ago, although I'm not 100% sure that anyone from Quest knows that. At VMworld, Quest had their own booth, and Vizioncore (another Quest company) had their own booth, and Provision Networks had their own booth.
The first thing you notice about the Provision booth is that they had two huge muscle men in very skimpy clothes passing out PowerBars to passers-by. (Something about putting your VDI environment on steroids.) While I'm not sure how I feel about booth babes at trade shows, I do know that they attendees of VMworld were about 95% men, so having man babes in the booth seemed even more ackward than women. (There was an upside for the men working the Provision booth itself, though, as the entire 5% of women at VMworld spent time in that booth.)
But Provision definitely had something worth viewing in their booth, naming, their new "Experience Optimization Pack" (EOP). This is a new plug-in for RDP that gives Provision-based solutions graphics-remoting performance that's similar to ICA. (Not better. Not worse. But similar.)
Patrick Rouse provided a nice overview of the EOP in his blog, along with a series of "before & after" videos. Very, very cool!
(Full Disclosure: Provision Networks has been a sponsor of BriForum in the past.)
Qumranet had a booth of their own, even though they're now owned by Red Hat. I've written about Qumranet quite a bit in the past, and there's nothing really new product-wise to report here. (Check out the demo video we did at BriForum this year if you're not familiar with Qumranet.) The big question on everyone's mind was that since Red Hat mainly bought Qumranet for the KVM hypervisor, what's going to happen to their Spice protocol? Will they open source it?
Several people asked that question of the employees in the Qumranet booth, and answers ranged from "yes" to "maybe" to "maybe if we can't figure out what to do with it" to "yes, but only after we make as much money as we can first."
So really, no new info on the open sourcing front. But let's keep those fingers crossed!
(Full Disclosure: Qumranent has been a sponsor of BriForum in the past. Also, Qumranet hired Gabe and me to conduct an analysis of the performance of their SolidICE product versus other VDI products, the results of which we hope to publish soon.)
I'd never heard of RingCube before VMworld. They're a software company with a product called "vDesk." vDesk is a client-side virtualization engine that's another player in the local / offline VDI arena. But vDesk has one major difference from the Xen-based client hypervisors like Neocleus or Virtual Computer: RingCube uses the base Windows OS components within the guest VM. It's basiscally like Virtuozzo, except at the client level. (If you're not familiar with Virtuozzo, it's virtualization that's somewhere in-between the application level (like SoftGrid) and the hardware level (like VMware).)
In practical use, running vDesk is like running VMware workstation or Microsoft Virtual PC or any other VMM, except that the guest VM is sharing the kernel and key OS files with the host. The advantage of this is VM side. Instead of having a virtual machine that's several hundred megabytes in size, you can create one that's just a few megabytes.
This is a really cool idea, and it would work well in the employee-owned PC use-case. The vDesk product itself felt a little rough around the edges when using it. For example, the guest VM either ran in a window, or full screen. There was no concept of "seamless" integration like VMware's unity feature or Parallel's coherence.
vDesk is pretty still cool though. You can load the whole vDesk agent / VMM and a VM image onto a fairly small USB stick and get instant access to your desktop, running locally on whatever machine you want (as long at that machine is running windows).
Kevin Goodman's RTO Software was in the "New Innovators" area of the exhibit hall. (From what I can tell, all that's "innovative" about the exhibitors in this area is that they didn't spend as much money on sponsorship as the exhibitors who had full 10'x10' booths.)
I've really liked RTO's Virtual Profiles product, and I thought that's what they'd be leading with at VMworld. While they certainly were talking about that, Kevin told me that a lot of interest was in their PinPoint product, an application performance monitor that helps you figure out exactly what the end-user experience is like, and where potential performance problems are in your VDI or Terminal Server environment.
(Full Disclosure: RTO has sponsored BriForum in the past, and is a current advertiser on BrianMadden.com.)
Did I say this was going to be a two-part article? Scratch that. It's now a three-part article, because there are still a lot of companies to get through. (Something about a super heavy turnout in the "V" section of the alphabet.) So check back tomorrow for Part 3: S-Z.