A desktop virtualization vendor that's been operating in stealth mode, Qumranet, has emerged as one of the first companies to make use of the KVM virtualization engine, already implanted in the Linux kernel.
Few developers know much about KVM. It was added to Linux kernel 2.6.20 in October 2006. KVM is a hypervisor capable of making use of the virtualization assists built into the latest Intel and AMD chips. Those hardware hooks simplify some of the complexity in the x86 instruction set, giving KVM a lean and mean profile at just 12,000 lines of code.
Qumranet is offering one of the first virtualization products to be built on top of KVM. That may be because the lead KVM developer, Avi Kiviti, and several other developers are part of the startup, which has offices in Netanya, Israel, and Sunnyvale, Calif.
Qumranet made its debut Monday at the Demofall 07 show in San Diego, emphasizing its desktop virtualization product, Solid Independent Computing Environment, or Solid ICE. It's meant to be able to host thousands of either Windows or Linux desktops from central servers. One server can host both types of desktops. In addition, each user desktop may show a high degree of individualization.
"Typically, desktop virtualization is good for IT managers, bad for end users," says John-Marc Clark, marketing director of Qumranet, in an interview. That's because virtualization centralizes user software on large servers managed by IT, eliminating much of the patching and upgrade costs associated with user machines. On the other hand, it imposes a user desktop, or a few variations of a standard desktop, on thousands of users without them being able to influence it.