Spheres of Virtual Influence

Russia, Israel appear to have a virtual foothold in virtualization innovation.

In the United States we pride ourselves on innovation. We created the bacon double cheeseburger, arena rock and Paris Hilton. And IBM invented virtualization in 1968, turning a single monolithic mainframe into a bevy of smaller host computers.

But we have no real lock on virtual inventions. In fact, there are two parts of the world that are inventing more technologies than Thomas Edison: Russia and Israel.

How do I know? I'm fascinated by start-ups. These are the companies that take risks, putting their money, reputations and jobs on the line. While always curious about their products, I'm more fascinated by where the ideas came from and who came up with them.

I have lunch with virtualization entrepreneurs several times a month and over bowls of miso soup and plates of scallop maki, I began to notice the accents. I realized I really should have hosted these folks at a delicatessen or Tea Room -- there were so many Russian and Israeli accents.

I asked Alex Vasilevsky, founder of Virtual Iron, why Russians are so active in virtualization. Two reasons spring to mind: After the collapse of communism, decades of pent-up entrepreneurialism exploded. And Russia has a great university system.

Israelis are likewise highly educated, and much pure research, science and innovation comes out of the military sector.

Here are a few of my Russian favorites:

Acronis: An American company focusing now on storage for virtual environments, Acronis has developers in Russia and three Moscow-trained technologists on its board of directors, including Serguei Beloussov and Jack Zubarev, the founders of Parallels.

Parallels: Formerly SWSoft, Parallels is still run by CEO Beloussov and Zubarev, who serves as president of the service provider business.

Veeam: Russian entrepreneur Ratmir Timashev, who also launched Aelita, formed Veeam with business partner Andrei Baronov to focus on virtualization management and storage.

Virtual Computer: After co-founding and leaving Virtual Iron, Alex Vasilevsky is part of the team behind Virtual Computer, a company that "isolates the hardware from the operating system from the application from user data."

Virtual Iron: The brainchild of U.S.-educated Alex Vasilevsky, Virtual Iron is now run by a team here in the states.

VKernel: Started by Ukraine-born entrepreneur Alex Bakman, VKernel builds management tools such as capacity planning. Bakman additionally founded Ecora, which focuses on the Windows market.

And here's a handful of impressive Israeli start-ups:

B-hive: Now owned by VMware, performance-management vendor B-hive Networks was started by two Tel Aviv University graduates, including Yoav Demback, a former counter-terrorism officer.

Ceedo: Ceedo was co-founded by Dror Wettenstein, who studied Computer Science at Hebrew University. Ceedo virtualizes workspaces to support mobile virtual computing.

InstallFree: This virtualization application outfit has its R&D in Israel, and is led by former Israeli paratrooper Yori Gabay.

Kidaro: Now owned by Microsoft, Kidaro was started by three Israeli entrepreneurs and maintains an R&D presence in Israel.

MiniFrame: Launched five years ago, MiniFrame's tool turns one PC into as many as eight separate machines. The company is run by CEO Eli Segal, a graduate of the Israel Institute of Technology and Bar-Ilan University.

There's also a Russian/Israeli connection in the form of CTO Arik Bovshover. Bovshover earned a Ph.D. from the Moscow Institute for Applied Mathematics.

Qumranet: Qumranet was founded by three Israeli-trained computer scientists and engineers: Benny Schnaider, Rami Tamir and Moshe Bar. The firm, which built the KVM hypervisor, is now part of Red Hat.

Are there other countries building our virtual futures? Your thoughts are welcome at dbarney@1105media.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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