10 Coolest Virtualization Startups Of 2012 (So Far)

Virtualization Market Is Hotter Than Ever

The virtualization space is growing ever more crowded, and many startups' technology provides the underpinning for cloud services. Whether it is security, desktop-as-a-service or database virtualization, this is a hot technology that is only getting hotter. Here are 10 examples of cool virtualization startups from the first half of 2012.

1. Bromium

CEO: Gaurav Banga

Bromium, a startup led by the co-founders of the Xen open-source project, exited stealth mode in June with an as-yet unreleased product that keeps PCs secure outside the corporate firewall using virtualization.

Through the use of Intel hardware-assisted virtualization, Bromium's technology isolates operating system tasks before they're executed and hands them over to a piece of software called a "microvisor," which examines requests to ensure they're not malicious.

Bromium's first product is still in beta, and co-founder Simon Crosby, former data center and virtualization CTO at Citrix, explains its capabilities thusly: "The system is naturally trustworthy and naturally cleans itself of any malware. This happens through the application of virtualization as an isolation boundary."

2. Unidesk

CEO: Don Bulens

Desktop virtualization startup Unidesk got a major confidence boost in May when Dell chose its management technology for use in virtual desktop infrastructure projects. Unidesk's VDI provisioning and management technology is now part of Dell's Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) lineup, where it works with VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop to handle image management, storage optimization and the all-important maintenance of a user's personalized settings in VDI environments.

"This is a defining moment for us," Tom Rose, chief marketing officer at Unidesk, told CRN in May.

3. Hotlink

CEO: Lynn LeBlanc

Virtualization management startup HotLink is a VMware partner that launched its first product at VMworld last year, but its goal is to help customers use non-VMware hypervisors.

In March, HotLink launched a channel program around its flagship SuperVisor product, which allows VMware vCenter to natively support hypervisors from Microsoft, Citrix and Red Hat. Sales of SuperVisor have been triple what HotLink expected when it launched the product last year, CEO Lynn LeBlanc told CRN in March.

4. Virtustream

CEO: Rodney Rogers

Bethesda, Md.-based Virtustream in June unveiled a beta for version 2.0 of its xStream platform, which is available as software and as a managed service. Slated for launch in August, xStream 2.0 includes tools for private clouds, virtual private clouds, as well as virtual multitenancy.

5. Nivio

CEO: Sachin Dev Duggal

Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Nivio launched nDesktop, its cloud desktop-as-a-service, in February to the U.S. market. Nivio offers a 10-hour desktop-as-a-service plan for students and teachers for $2 a month, and an unlimited plan for road warriors for $15 per month. Nivio's nDesktop works with iOS and Android devices, as well as Macs and PCs.

Nivio, which also has offices in India and Switzerland, uses Microsoft's Service Provider License Agreement and Windows Server 2008 R2 for its Windows 7 desktop-as-a-service.

6. Wanova (acquired by VMware)

CEO: Sebastiano Tevarotto

Wanova, a San Jose, Calif.-based desktop virtualization startup, was acquired by VMware in February. Wanova's flagship product, Mirage, uses layering technology in the data center to centralize image management. Mirage uses both client and server virtualization to give IT departments control over endpoints and allow users to customize machines as they see fit.

VMware is planning to integrate Mirage with View, its own desktop virtualization product. Mirage's ability to centrally manage both physical and virtual PCs, regardless of whether they're connected to the network, is viewed in the channel as a key addition for VMware.

7. Virtual Computer (acquired by Citrix)

CEO: Dan McCall

Virtual Computer, a Westford, Mass.-based desktop virtualization startup, was acquired by Citrix Systems in May. Virtual Computer uses a VDI offshoot called intelligent desktop virtualization, which moves processing to the endpoint to execute tasks faster and lower reliance on servers in data centers.

Citrix is rolling Virtual Computer's technology into its XenClient hypervisor as part of its XenClient Enterprise edition.

Virtual Computer has raised $21 million in venture capital funding since its founding in 2007.

8. ParElastic

CEO: Ken Rugg

ParElastic, a Waltham, Mass.-based database virtualization startup, last month launched its ParElastic Database Virtualization Engine, technology that expands the capacity of traditional relational database servers such as MySQL.

By allowing multiple database servers to function as a single virtual database, ParElastic's Database Virtualization Engine can handle massive workloads that previously would have necessitated the deployment of additional IT infrastructure.

9. Xeround

CEO: Razi Sharir

Xeround, a database virtualization startup based in Mountain View, Calif., earlier this month launched a free, 10-MB version of its cloud database-as-a-service for MySQL apps for users of the Rackspace Cloud. Last month, Xeround introduced the free offering to users of the Joyent Cloud, and the previous month did the same for users of HP Cloud Services.

10. OnLive

CEO: Steve Perlman

Cloud service provider OnLive is best known for online gaming, but the company claims that businesses are lining up to replace their existing remote access technologies with OnLive Desktop, its hosted Windows desktop-as-a-service.

"We've been overwhelmed with requests from enterprise, SMB, organizations, government, schools -- all seeking to replace their current remoting technology with OnLive as quickly as possible. Literally, millions of seats," an OnLive spokesperson told CRN in April.

Meanwhile, OnLive changed its desktop-as-a-service delivery in April after Microsoft said it was violating its licensing terms.