Start-up Neocleus is preparing to ship a bare-metal desktop hypervisor, promises thta itwill improve endpoint security and let IT shops manage how virtual desktops interact with each other.
The current desktop virtualisation market is dominated by Type 2 hypervisors, which run as an application on top of the operating system.
Citrix and Intel are working on a bare-metal, or Type 1, hypervisor for client PCs, and plans to release one of its own the second half of this year. Vendors say bare-metal hypervisors will be more secure than today's model because they are independent of the client OS, and will run faster because they let applications run on the local client rather than a remote server.
Neocleus, which was founded in 2006 and emerged from stealth mode nine months ago, was "really the first to make a stance and put a bare-metal hypervisor on the device," said Forrester analyst Natalie Lambert.
Neocleus launched last year with Trusted Edge, a device that lets end points securely connect to corporate data center resources. Neocleus will go into beta the last week of March with its full platform, code-named Mako, and then ship in May or June, said chief marketing officer William Corrigan.
The company's headuarters are in New Jersey, but nearly all of the company's 35 employees, including its CEO, are based in Tel Aviv, Israel. CEO and co-founder Ariel Gorfung was previously CEO of Intuwave, a UK company that made middleware for the Symbian mobile OS. CTO and co-founder Etay Bogner previously founded security vendor SofaWare, which was acquired by Check Point. Neocleus's virtualisation software, an adaptation of the Xen server hypervisor, will allow PCs to run multiple operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Each OS would be in its own "bubble," which, if infected, could simply be deleted, preserving the integrity of the machine as a whole, said Corrigan. Virtual desktops can be managed centrally, but not in the sense of pushing patches out to user machines. Instead, Neocleus sets policies, a lot of "if, then, else," Corrigan said.
"If a particular condition exists, then allow this application to run in this particular virtual machine. Or, if that virtual machine doesn't exist on that machine, go get the VM on a central server," he explained. "We're managing that externalization of the virtual machine, the shell. How does one shell interact with this one or do they not [interact] at all."
Polices might prevent one operating system from using more than a certain percentage of a system, or prevent certain users from using particular devices or applications. This is useful for businesses that want to separate personal and corporate computing into different virtual machines, Corrigan said.
Neocleus is not targeting the thin client market, and, as Lambert notes, desktop virtualisation typically requires more up-front cost than simply buying new PCs.
But Corrigan said that the price of desktop virtualisation was worth it, saying "how do you measure the cost of one catastrophic virus?"
Neocleus will likely charge between $50(£35) and $100(£70) per desktop.