MokaFive has announced a new version of its virtual desktop management solution, called MokaFive Suite 3.0, that introduces full support for Windows 7, improved security, and multitenancy capabilities for managed service providers.

MokaFive is one of a growing list of virtual desktop or VDI companies trying to address the security, cost, and ease of desktop administration, as well as improve the overall ease with which Windows 7 can be deployed and rolled out into production environments.

This company isn't new to this market; in fact, MokaFive has been around since 2005 and has been working on some interesting technologies. Unfortunately for the company, Forrest Gump himself wouldn't necessarily call MokaFive a "household name," which is usually a major problem for a small business trying to get name recognition in a space crowded with industry giants likeCitrixMicrosoft, and VMware.

Part of the problem is the long list of competitors with various strategies to solving the same problems. But MokaFive takes a slightly different approach to virtual desktop management and the way it provides virtual desktops to end-users. The company created a virtual desktop, called a LivePC, with images that update dynamically and automatically and can be deployed quickly, according to the company. Because the MokaFive solution runs LivePC images locally on standard client hardware, not on servers in the datacenter, users can work anywhere - regardless of network connectivity.

LivePCs run on the endpoint device via the MokaFive Player, a lightweight application that gets installed on the local computer and controls the entire virtual desktop, including the underlying hypervisor. All of this is done on top of a Type-2 hypervisor (or a hosted virtualisation environment). MokaFive doesn't offer its own hypervisor; instead, the company has taken an agnostic approach to the hypervisor layer so that the customer isn't locked into a specific virtualization platform. The company supports popular Type-2 hypervisors such as VMware Player, Parallels Workstation, Virtual Box, and VMware Fusion.

And because MokaFive's technology addresses the needs of Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X users, the company can also help organisations realize the concept known as "Bring Your Own Computer," or BYOC, where users choose their own platform at work, whether that be Windows or Mac.

Once the LivePC image is downloaded to the end-user device, everything for the user happens locally -- be it online or offline to the network. The LivePCs themselves run locally but are managed centrally. MokaFive is running in the data center, and it provides all of the central deployment, security scans, patching, updates, and policy controls needed in a client-based environment. It can even reach out and destroy an image stored on the player if a PC is lost or stolen.

MokaFive Suite 3.0 includes new capabilities such as the following:

Windows 7 support

 The earlier MokaFive releases did not support Windows 7, but the 3.0 release adds support for both the 32-bit and x64 editions of Windows.

Rather than manually upgrading machines or waiting for a hardware refresh cycle to take place, organizations can implement MokaFive Suite 3.0 to create a full Windows 7 virtual machine that can run on most existing hardware -- even if that PC doesn't have the hardware requirements necessary for a Windows 7 installation (because the hypervisor is abstracting the underlying hardware).

If the host machine is a Windows XP device, the user can still leverage the base machine to run legacy Windows XP applications that won't run correctly within Windows 7, while also making use of the LivePC Windows 7 machine to perform the modern day-to-day activities.

MokaFive's Windows 7 support is not just a container. The company says it offers full layering support on Windows 7 both in terms of AD domain join layering, OS layering, user-installed apps, data and settings. It has also changed the architecture of the layering so that it leverages some of the inherent features of Windows 7 in a much better fashion.

Integrated security

 MokaFive has partnered with a well-known security vendor, AVG, and MokaFive Suite 3.0 takes advantage of the full integration with AVG. The solution includes a secure virtual encrypted desktop container that can be deployed to the endpoint and further be secured from key-logging and screen-scraping attacks from the host machine by the AVG security scanning capability. Enterprises can enable secure execution of the virtual desktop even on unprotected personal machines by ensuring that these machines are free of malware.

Service Provider Edition

MokaFive Suite 3.0 has also added a new multitenant feature to its new Service Provider Edition of the product, which enables managed service providers (MSPs) to provide desktop management from the cloud by offering true multitenancy, golden image management tools, and consolidated cross-tenant reporting. MSPs can now provide managed desktop services with a shared infrastructure without having to operate a unique instance of the MokaFive Suite for each client, making it a more lightweight and scalable solution.

The company is also working on a Type-1 offering or bare-metal edition (one that can install on top of the hardware itself without the need for a hosted operating system). According to MokaFive, using a bare-metal player avoids the management effort and licensing of the host computer, and it is designed for security and performance. A bare-metal player will also run the same virtual desktops that are currently being deployed to the host-installed player.

The bare-metal edition is currently being tested with select customers, and the company said they hope to have it ready by early next year.

OUR VERDICT

MokaFive has been targeting its solution to larger-sized companies, and at $150 per user per year, it's no wonder. Cost has long been a deterrent preventing many organizations from getting into the desktop virtualisation game; however, the company's new Service Provider Edition may help bring those costs down and make desktop virtualisation more affordable for smaller organisations.