Desktop virtualisation has a new kid on the block after US-based startup MokaFive commercially launched its MokaFive Virtual Desktop Solution on Tuesday.
The company is touting version 1.0 of MokaFive's Virtual Desktop Solution as a complete virtual desktop package. It aims to give IT administrators a centralised management system, and allows for the creation, deployment, securing, updating and managing of virtual desktops, which it calls 'LivePCs'.
These LivePCs can be executed on any x86-based desktop or laptop, or even from portable storage devices such as a USB stick or even an iPod. VMware offered something similar last year.
The LivePC is a cross platform product that can run on both Windows XP and Vista, as well as Macintosh Leopard. It also runs on a stripped-down Linux operating system called BareMetal Linux, which if used, allows companies to save on multiple Windows licences.
The company says that as MokaFive Virtual Desktop Solution is delivered as a service, IT administrators do not need to invest in or manage new infrastructure.
Automated updates and security patches can be easily rolled out thanks to an administrative console, which can also monitor every single LivePC. Users can also run multiple LivePCs on a single machine, one for work (loaded with work-based applications for example), and one for home (with games).
Faster launches are also touted, thanks to MokaFive's Predictive Fetch technology, which the company claims makes its virtual computers start up faster and update quicker - in seconds rather than minutes - compared to competitor offerings. The ability to carry out local execution from a cached image of the LivePC, also means users can work offline, with no dependence on a constant network connection.
MokaFive says that its LivePCs are "self healing", in that they can recover from malware or spyware with a simple reboot. For example, if a particular LivePC becomes infected, the user reboots and the operating system and applications are automatically restored to their original clean state. Even better, all documents and data remains intact and unaffected.
"MokaFive's 'secret sauce' is separating the System State from the User State in a LivePC," said Bill Demas, President and CEO of MokaFive, in an emailed response to Techworld. "The system data is the responsibility of the administrator who manages and updates it, while the user data (documents, settings, etc.) is owned by the user. Upon reboot, the system image is always the pristine one, while the latest user data changes remain unaffected."
"MokaFive has two modes of control over whether or not a user is able to access and use their LivePC environment," said Demas. "We can temporarily revoke or disable access privileges in case the user loses the access key."
"We also have a poison pill mode that will erase all the private data for a particular LivePC as well as all the cached information. The LivePC then disappears and sends a message to the user detailing why their LivePC was taken away."
A free download for individual users is available here. It has been deployed in nearly 50 pilots and downloaded 80,000 times by users all over the world, with many in Europe - particularly the UK and Germany. MokaFive's professional version (intended for businesses) is not yet available in the UK market, but apparently there are plans underway to expand into Europe.
The professional version is available via an annual subscription that is priced per user with unlimited use of LivePCs. Demas says the pricing is very competitive with other offerings and varies based on volume, with a range of roughly $79 (£39)- $99 (£50) per year. MokaFive charges for end user deployments, not for creation of LivePC images by the system administrator.
Looking forward, Demas says the focus of MokaFive’s roadmap for the next year is around meeting the needs of enterprises around desktop management and getting them up and running quickly.
"Specifically we are focused on security, scalability and self-serve (desktop as a service) for 2008 with a heavy emphasis around improving usability (which we are known for but want to continue to improve)," he said.
MokaFive is certainly joining a crowded market. Earlier this month Qumranet, the start-up behind the increasingly popular KVM kernel-level virtualisation technology, threw its hat into the desktop virtualisation ring. Citrix is also set to launch its desktop virtualisation platform, XenDesktop.
But Demas believes that MokaFive is able to differentiate itself. "Unlike these offerings, MokaFive supports multiple operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and BareMetal Linux, and MokaFive is built to work with any virtual machine monitors (VMMs, or Hypervisor)."
"We manage the entire life cycle, and support connected and disconnected use cases. Our approach is different because we give users the best of both worlds: centralised management and a local rich desktop execution. MokaFive's model is also less expensive, as one server can support thousands of users via a web server."
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