Citrix Invests In Virtual Computer

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That company, Virtual Computer, on Monday said it raised $15 million in its B-round of funding, with funds coming from Citrix and two venture capital investors.

Virtual Computer develops software that provides life-cycle management for virtual desktop PCs, said Dan McCall, company president and CEO.

The software provides an agent-free way to update applications run on virtual PCs in order to make such PCs reliable, manageable and secure while not impacting their performance, McCall said.

The company's NxTop software runs the Microsoft Windows operating software on a virtualization platform so that it does not know what kind of hardware it sits on. As part of that platform, NxTop also links an operations center, which lets users get the upgrades and encryption keys they need, and which provides a trusted boot layer, he said.

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As a result, customers can move their user environments from one hardware device to another with all their personal preferences without the need for spending time to do the migration, McCall said.

In addition to migrating their user personalities to different hardware, NxTop also allows them to easily switch between personal and business personalities on the same machine, he said.

The migration is done transparent to the user, a big plus compared to the typical scenario, which requires IT administrator intervention, McCall said. "Usually, when someone makes a PC environment more safe, secure and manageable, users don't like it because it's locked down by IT," he said.

For Citrix, the interest in Virtual Computer comes from the fact that the NxTop technology complements recent new Citrix XenDesktop offerings, said Andy Cohen, senior director of strategic development at Citrix.

Citrix and Intel last week said they are collaborating to jointly deliver a hypervisor that will sit on end-user devices that will allow customers to have access to their virtual desktop PCs from any device without the need to boot up the device.

Cohen said the two companies' technologies could have some potential overlap over time, but that they are actually quite complementary. "Citrix is not in the PC life-cycle management space," he said.

Virtual Computer's primary competitors are Altiris, which was acquired by Symantec in early 2007, as well as LANdesk, which was acquired by Avocent in 2006, Cohen said.

However, while Cohen declined to speculate whether Citrix would acquire Virtual Computer, he did hint at the possibility.

"Virtual Computer has technology that might be attractive to customers and to other companies to acquire," he said. "[Citrix] is interested enough to have invested in it."