Interview of Doug Lane : Sr. Director Virtual Computer
2010 was one of the most active years for Desktop Virtualisation, Virt-Now had the chance to discuss with Virtual Computer by interviewing Doug Lane about Client Side Virtualisation approach. Virtual Computer launched NxTop Solution in 2007, a Client Type I Hypervisor for Desktops, Laptops and Workstations. We though it would be very interesting interviewing their Sr Product Directory to explain a little bit about NxTop 3.0 new release.
Doug Lane : Sr Director for Product Marketing at Virtual Computer, Inc based in Boston
VIRT-NOW : NxTop 3.0 has been released about two month ago, Could you explain how this solution stands in the Desktop Virtualisation Market ?
Doug Lane : NxTop 3.0 was a significant release for us. While NxTop has been mature enough for broad scale adoption for quite some time, as our deployments grew in size and complexity it ushered in a new wave of customer feature requests. Many of these fell into two categories: enterprise scalability and hardware compatibility. In NxTop 3.0, we greatly enhanced our management capabilities with new features such as a hierarchical management architecture, remote help desk capabilities, and bandwidth throttling. Our engineering team also made tremendous gains with hardware compatibility. NxTop 3.0 now runs on both Intel and AMD processors, as graphics processors from Intel, ATI, and NVIDIA. Finally, we added some nice capabilities such as local virtual machine creation on NxTop Engine, which makes it much easier for new users to try the product. We are a bit biased, but we believe that NxTop is the most advanced and mature client virtualization technology on the market.
VIRT-NOW : What are the key values of a client side virtualization approach facing those “VDI” solutions where the Virtual Machines are running remotely on the Datacenter ?
Doug Lane : Traditional hosted VDI and client-side virtualization will both play important roles in the future of desktop management. But for many organizations, particularly small and medium businesses, hosted VDI is not the right place to start. Data center expenses can add up quickly, there are challenges with mobility, and the user experience changes fairly dramatically for end-users. These factors can very easily undermine an IT team’s efforts to capture the efficiency benefits of desktop virtualization. With a client-side virtualization product like NxTop, these organizations can achieve many of the same IT efficiencies without changing their infrastructure economics or user experience. Additionally, though partnerships with companies like Citrix and Quest Software, we make it very easy to add hosted VDI capabilities in the future as suitable use cases emerge.
VIRT-NOW : Lots of customers were very disappointed in the TCO and cost investments needed to deploy those “VDI” solutions regarding of the huge impact on number of servers and Datacenter infrastructure ; What are the key elements and how much needed to deploy NxTop for a corporate enterprise or a Small Business ?
Doug Lane : There are two core components of NxTop: a management server (NxTop Center) and our client-side virtualization software (NxTop Engine). An IT team can get started with a single server running Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V and one or more traditional PCs. We offer a free download that is capable of managing up to 5 PCs, so many organizations that have a spare server and PC on hand can get started with NxTop with zero upfront expense.
VIRT-NOW : Desktop Virtualisation is growing slower than it could be expected, what is the vision of Virtual Computer on that market trends ?
Doug Lane : Desktop virtualization adoption has suffered due to a variety of factors. The economic climate and its impact in IT budgets certainly played a role. There were also gaps to be filled in vendors’ capabilities before broad adoption could occur. As remote display protocols continue to improve and client-side virtualization extends virtualization benefits to laptops, we are seeing more companies move forward with their desktop virtualization projects.
VIRT-NOW : Could you tell us about what will be the next features and core components of NxTop in 2011 future releases ?
Doug Lane : We have many exciting new capabilities planned for 2011. Much of the work in NxTop 3.0 was focused on NxTop Engine. Early in 2011, you can expect to see a new wave of management features in NxTop Center, particularly in areas such as policies and remote manageability. We always devote a fair bit of time to keeping pace with new PC hardware, and with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge platform launching there will be plenty to keep us busy on the front. We also see 2011 as the year in which we further integrate NxTop into the broader PC ecosystem, so look for even more major partnership news and product integration. Finally, we always reserve some capacity on our roadmap for customer-requested enhancements. Many of our best new features come from our customers.
VIRT-NOW : What are the main areas where there is strong demand from customers for Client Side Hypervisor like NxTop ? What is the potential for growth?
Doug Lane : Interest is coming from a variety of vertical markets. Much of the early demand for NxTop has come from organizations that have a mobile workforce and a high need for security. Healthcare and government are two great examples. We also do well with organizations with traveling sales teams such as the pharmaceuticals industry. We are working with organizations of all sizes, but we think client-side virtualization is a particularly great fit for small and medium sized business. Many of these organizations have limited IT staff and do not yet have a cohesive set of management tools. We can bring NxTop in and show an immediate positive impact for a minimal upfront investment.
VIRT-NOW : Virtual Computer has been created in 2007 to introduce the first Client Hypervisor “Bare-Metal Type I”, How do you see Citrix XenClient introduction in the end of 2010 ? As a precursor How is NxTop standing next to XenClient ?
Doug Lane : We still enjoy a capability and maturity lead over XenClient in a number of areas such as hardware compatibility and breadth of management features. However, XenClient is a very sound product and is improving dramatically from one release to the next. While many view NxTop and XenClient as potential competitors, we actually believe that NxTop’s success is very closely aligned with the success of XenClient. It would not serve us well to be the only company offering a type-1 client hypervisor. We would like a future where the type-1 approach is the standard for implementing client-side virtualization and customers can chose the management approach that best suits their needs and budget from vendors like Virtual Computer and Citrix.
VIRT-NOW : VMware did some “buzz “ around their Desktop Virtualisation solution named VIEW 4.5 and the disconnected feature , what’s your opinion about that feature as it’s not a type I hypervisor but a type II standing ontop of a Windows OS ?
Doug Lane : While Virtual Computer is committed to a type-1 client hypervisor approach, I think that a Type-2 approach could work for VMware if the underlying host operating system is lightweight, easily managed centrally, and hidden from the end-user. I don’t think Type-2 running on top of native Windows is a viable option. It makes the PC management and security problem more complex instead of less. The biggest issue I see with View’s offline approach is that VMware’s philosophy appears very dependent on hosted-VDI with a “check-in / check-out” model for offline usage. Offline use is not a niche. It is the more common usage model. A successful client-side virtualization must assume that a segment of users will run on laptops full-time and be good at updating VMs directly on the PC.
VIRT-NOW : In our previous interview with José Vasco VP from Quest he talked about a partnership with Virtual Computer to introduce a disconnected feature for their Software Broker vWorkspace (previously Provision Networks), could you explain a little bit about it ?
Doug Lane : While Virtual Computer’s focus today is on client-side virtualization, we do believe that the desktop architecture of the future includes hosted VDI desktops as well. Quest is a very complementary partner for us because vWorkspace can also integrate well with Microsoft Hyper-V, giving customers both hosted and client-side virtualization with a common server back-end. We have already completed some integration work by adding the vWorkspace client into NxTop Engine. This allows users to execute both local desktops on NxTop and hosted desktops (or terminal services applications) on vWorkspace simultaneously in isolated containers. With that work complete, we are exploring further areas of integration between the two products.
About Virtual Computer : www.virtualcomputer.com