Take Five With Tom Fenton
There aren't many more innovative industries within IT than virtualization.
Many of the products produced by these companies are inventions -- we haven't seen them in any form before. They exhibit a "pushing the outside of the envelope" spirit that typifies aggressive, forward-thinking vendors. They won't settle for what's come before; they want to pull you with them into the future.
Take 1 NComputing. This new company, headed by the former chief of e-Machines and CompUSA, makes a little black box -- but not the kind you find on airplanes. NComputing's device allows multiple users to share the resources of a single desktop (not server) computer. Users plug a keyboard, mouse and monitor into the box, and get a virtualized desktop and apps delivered from the host machine. There's a model for the education market (X300), and one for business (L230). Way cool stuff.
Take 2 Xsigo. Pronounced "See-Go," this startup virtualizes I/O, eliminating the performance bottleneck caused by data running hither and yon, in and out of your server for networking, storage and backup purposes. The spaghetti emanating from the back of virtualization servers can be cut down to a few thin strands using the Xsigo I/O Director. No more buying unnecessary servers just to get I/O ports. Keep an eye on the X-Men.
Take 3 RingCube. If Jim Morrison were alive today, this would be his favorite company. With MojoPac, MojoStation, MojoDrive and MojoNet offerings, RingCube's got "Mojo risin'" out of its ears. Mojo, from RingCube's perspective, is about isolating and securing a desktop environment -- including applications -- for extreme portability. Load it on a USB drive, then transfer it anywhere -- a desktop or laptop PC (no Mac version presently), and it becomes your workspace. When you're done, load it back on the thumb drive, and off you go-no muss, no fuss.
Take 4 Phoenix Technologies. This is the only well-known company on this list: Anyone who's turned on a computer in the last 20 years has seen the name Phoenix, the BIOS maker. But I bet you didn't know that same company has moved into virtualization, and in a unique way: Phoenix has built a hypervisor called HyperSpace, which is rooted in the BIOS, in between the hardware and the OS (like ESX Server, Hyper-V and Xen). It comes on in seconds and can give you almost instant access to programs like your browser and e-mail. Also, because it's sub-OS, you can still have those programs running if Windows bluescreens on you.
Take 5 Surgient. Test Labs were one of the earliest uses of virtualization. Virtualization's isolation capabilities and ability to mimic production networks make it ideal for this scenario, and Surgient is an early leader in the management of virtual lab environments. One extremely interesting new product, the Virtual Demo Lab Management System (VDMS), provides a way for sales folks on the road to demo new software for potential customers.
What vendors have you heard of? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.