Today, Moka5 is releasing version 4 of their suite, and while it’s not the huge splash we’ve grown accustomed to (us bloggers have been spoiled the last few months), it was good to get an update on what they’ve been doing. It’s been a while since I spoke to them, so I thought I’d write an abridged version of our call to catch up and describe what they’ve been up to.
Not long ago, Moka5 was a company based solely on client hypervisors and layering. This was at a time when there were several other companies doing the same thing with an enterprise-management focus (Citrix, VMware, Virtual Computer, Neocleus, etc…), and only a few of them still exist today (Moka5 and Citrix). Moka5 can attribute their longevity to equal parts focus and fortune. From the beginning, whether they were aware of it or not, the company has been focused on compartmentalization. Early on it was about isolating Windows and breaking it up into layers that were executed separately from a host OS. Then, a few years back, they sort of pivoted into mobility, not as a new focus but as an additional one.
Their solution focused on the data, making it available to any user on any desktop or iOS device. At the time, they were one of the only ones that allowed for sync across platforms while still leaving your existing shares as-is (not having to completely migrate from one solution to another). You can leverage cloud services if you want, but you can also keep your data local while still providing access to it. They were the first company that I recall having “Open In:” functionality, allowing you to use any app you want open a document on an iOS device.
Fortunately, that was around the same time that we all realized the data was the driving force behind the other decisions we make. Sure, we care about apps and security and OSes and all that (whether we want to or not), but what dictates how we handle all of that is how and where we want the users to access the data. How Moka5 ended up being ahead of the game at that critical time can be attributed to “lucky forethought”, but it’s worked out for them!
When I caught up to them to hear about 4.0, I came away with the impression not that they were expecting to make waves, but that they were having success sticking to the compartmentalization guns, and that this release is mainly doing a bit of housekeeping–that’s a good thing. There are three core technologies in the Moka5 suite: LivePC, a type-2 client hypervisor; Bare Metal, a type-1 client hypervisor; and LiveData, a solution for getting users anywhere access to their data. LiveData is that aforementioned pivot point, and while I’ve long thought that Moka5 has been poised to enter the MAM space, they’ve so far just focused on data, leaving application management to the other players.
We’ve had a love/hate relationship with Client Hypervisors over the years, but have remained on the “love” side of the fence for quite some time. In certain use cases, client-side virtualization makes a ton of sense. You can get a lof of the benefits of VDI without actually doing VDI (disk encryption, endpoint independence, single disk images, etc…). With Moka5, you can also use layering to further manage the Windows images, which also makes that whole “single image” thing more achievable.
They’ve spent a lot of time making the platform more user-friendly with this release. Users now have the ability to postpone updates (for a certain amount of time, not indefinitely), and for the first time they can now select WiFi networks from within the guest OS when using Bare Metal. It took a while to get that feature in there, but it’s an important one because most users can’t grasp the concept of host/guest OS, and we’d all just prefer the keep it hidden from them as much as possible.
While there are undoubtedly comparisons to be made to XenClient, the fact that Moka5 has solutions for every desktop device (Windows, Mac, bare metal) is a leg up. XenClient is a bare metal, type-1 client hypervisor that requires a destructive install to work. Citrix released DesktopPlayer last year, but is Mac-only at the moment, so they’ve left a pretty large gap by leaving out type-2 running on Windows. Add to that the disk streaming, background updates, and layering, and you can see that there is stiff competition for Citrix on that front.
Perhaps the biggest change in 4.0 is around scalability, something that I’ve heard about anecdotally as being an issue. Moka5 can support 14,000 containers (a container is a desktop or data sync connection), up from around 5,000 previously. They did this by adding support for 64-bit version of Windows, optimizing how network connections were established, cached, and secured, and making file transfers more efficient. These efforts were actually plotted and developed by a team of ex-BigFix folks who moved from IBM to Moka5 in the past year, so there is some real pedigree there.
Among the other updates to the virtual desktop solution are Haswell chipset support (due to an updated Ubuntu version in Bare Metal), VMware Player 6, and international keyboard layout support. They’ve also added the ability to integrate management with other enterprise systems through the use of a REST API, not to mention given the users the ability to self-provision devices and PCs through self-service portals.
One of the big complaints people have about using type-2 client hypervisors is that the host itself could be compromised. It’s a valid concern, and to address that Moka5 has added some host remediation technology to scan for malware (including on Macs now). In the future, they plan on exposing hundreds or thousands of metrics the the management console so that IT can create policies based on the information. Imagine only allowing users to install LivePC if they conform to the same type policies as your SSL VPN (virus scanner, specific patches, etc…).
It doesn’t appear that much has changed with LiveData, the mobile solution, other than that they plan to have Android support sometime this year. The product still provides synchronization between mobile and Windows devices, while also having the aforementioned “Open In” functionality, a doc viewer, and a secure browser.
Like many other companies, they’re dabbling in the subscription model of licensing. 4.0 can be licensed in both a subscription model or a perpetual license. The list prices for the PC products start at $220/user as a yearly subscription, or $367/user perpetual. The mobile product (LiveData) is licensed starting at $60/user as a yearly subscription and $100/user for a perpetual license.
More information, plus a demo, can be found at at http://www.moka5.com today. I’m really curious what you think of it. It’s definitely not a splashy announcement, but I really do like seeing Moka5 branch out while addressing some of the loose ends.