I recently learned about the upcoming user installed application software from a desktop virtualization software company named Ceedo Technologies that takes a simpler approach to user workspace virtualization.
Today, Ceedo is known for its PC-on-a-stick technology, which virtualizes Windows applications, personal user settings and data within a virtual workspace that is stored on a USB storage device. Basically, it provides a managed workspace environment to unmanaged devices.
The Israel-based company flipped its perspective with Project Ren, which provides a user workspace to managed desktops.
Ceedo's approach is decidedly less complicated than other approaches to user installed applications (UIA). Of course, that means there are tradeoffs in functionality, but the overall complexity of today's UIA solutions scare people away, so there is room for a simpler solution.
Ceedo's product is essentially an application installed on a host machine that contains a completely separate workspace that leverages the OS on which it is installed. The solution is sort of like App-V plus RingCube, giving you a personal user workspace (the RingCube or Citrix Personal vDisk part) that is isolated from the host OS, other applications and other workspaces (the App-V part).
Isolation is accomplished by a process called API Hooking, which means Ceedo pretty much inserts itself into the workflow for file system and registry operations. This is different than a file system filter -- the traditional method of creating UIAs today -- but the end result is similar in that two separate workspaces can exist in user mode in the same session.
Applications are installed directly into the Ceedo workspace, but there is no integration between the Ceedo workspace and the host PC's workspace (apps within the Ceedo workspace, however, are aware of each other). With this method, applications can exist in the Ceedo workspace and on the host PC without any conflicts, since they'll both be available. This also means there's no DLL rebasing conflicts to worry about.
While the isolated area has no awareness of the applications and data on the host, the host has some vision into the isolated area. This gives an element of out-of-band security and means that there doesn't necessarily need to be anything extra, such as antivirus, installed in the isolated area (which is good, because the Ceedo doesn't support kernel mode drivers, so antivirus software wouldn't work, anyway).
Ceedo believes that having IT deliver a user's managed workspace along with a user's own separate, unmanaged and isolated workspace on the same box is a big step forward in the quest for non-persistent (or stateless) VDI. When Project Ren becomes available sometime in Q4 2011, we'll be sure to check it out. In the meantime, you can keep track of its status on the Project Ren website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabe Knuth is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as "the other guy" at BrianMadden.com. He has been in the application delivery space for over 12 years and has seen the industry evolve from the one-trick pony of terminal services to the application and desktop virtualization of today. Gabe's focus tends to lean more toward practical, real-world technology in the industry, essentially boiling off the hype and reducing solutions to their usefulness in today's corporate environments.