Virtualization Technology News and Information
What Apple's Got On Tap At Macworld Expo

Information Week writes that the Macworld Conference should have a show floor packed with hot virtualization technology among many other things. It writes:

And now, the Macworld Conference & Expo is coming, running Jan. 14 through Jan. 18 in San Francisco. It's the time and place where the Apple community gets together to celebrate, to learn more about the technology, and to get excited about products to come.


Virtualization has generated big changes in information technology, as users enjoy the benefits of running multiple operating systems on individual computers. Virtualization lets you enjoy a broader range of applications or lets you make one machine appear to be multiple machines, for robustness and ease of management.

With one exception, virtualization is a huge weakness for Macs. Apple forbids user from running the Mac desktop virtualized on other machines. If users could virtualize the Mac client, they'd be able to run the Mac OS on other vendors' hardware, and that just violates one of the fundamental operating principles of Apple's business model: The only machines allowed to run the Mac OS are Macs.

Apple recently opened a narrow crack in that policy -- it'll let you virtualize Mac OS X Server -- but only on Mac's own server hardware.

There is one huge exception to Apple's policy on desktop virtualization: You're allowed to virtualize other operating systems on the Mac. Parallels software for running Windows on the Mac shipped two years ago, and it's been a huge factor in the Mac's popularity surge since then; users can migrate from Windows to the Mac and still be able to run their favorite Windows applications. (Mac's own software for running Windows on Macs, Boot Camp, requires a complete reboot between Mac OS X and Windows.)

Parallels will be at Macworld showing off its latest technology, Parallels Server, which went into public beta Jan. 9. Parallels Server runs on Windows, Linux, and the Mac, or on bare-metal PCs without any operating system, and it runs Windows, Linux, Solaris, DOS, OS/2, BSD, or -- per Apple's licensing policy -- Mac OS X Server when running on a Mac server.

The software is designed to bring the enterprise technology of server virtualization to small and midsize businesses without sophisticated IT support, said Parallels spokesman Ben Rudolph. "You can install it in two minutes and be up with the first virtual server in about 30 minutes," he said.

Server virtualization, like Parallels, gives users the benefit of running multiple servers without the cost of the additional hardware. If an application or a patch takes down one virtual machine, the others keep humming along.

Rudolph said Parallels hasn't yet decided on pricing or when the software will ship.

VMware is Parallels' top competitor; it makes its own Windows-on-Mac virtualization product, Fusion. VMware also plans to exhibit at Macworld and said it may have a couple of announcements.

Moka5 is a new competitor to Parallels and VMware. The company's LivePC technology runs a virtual PC in a very small footprint -- small enough to run on a USB drive, so you can put it in your pocket and attach it to a PC at an Internet cafe or hotel business center and boot up your own environment wherever you are.

LivePC is also designed to be downloaded over the Internet, so IT departments can use it to allow employees to log in securely from home PCs, running business-approved applications. IT departments can also use it to provide work environments for contractors who bring their own computers, or for disaster recovery.

The software is "self-healing," said John Whaley, company founder and principal engineer. "Every time you start it up, you get a fresh copy of the OS and applications," he said, eliminating spyware and other infections, threats, and problems.

LivePC runs on Windows XP and Vista, a bare-metal PC, and starting at Macworld, the Mac.

Whaley said he founded the company to solve a problem common to many computer professionals -- administering remote PCs, as he does for his own family members who live far away.

"I went home for the holidays, and my family has all the computers lined up for me," he said. "That was part of the genesis of the company -- I just got sick of having to fix people's computers all the time."

Whaley added, "This is really useful for when you have users who aren't very technically savvy. You can have someone else maintain the image for them, install the software, and keep it up to date." Users can install the software by simply clicking a Web link.

The software fits in about 100 MB, plus whatever data and applications you want to carry with you. Moka5 recommends using a 4 GB USB memory stick or any portable storage device, such as an iPod.

The software is currently free and in public beta; final pricing has yet to be determined. Moka5 expects to make the software generally available in the second quarter.

Read the entire Information Week article, here.

Published Friday, January 11, 2008 6:08 AM by David Marshall
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