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Cloudpaging: Desktop virtualization's emperor in new clothes?

A startup company called Numecent made waves this week with a new technology dubbed cloudpaging, but is the technology truly new?

Cloudpaging promises to

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"reduce the digital delivery time of any native application by between 20x and 100x by pre-virtualizing the asset to be delivered." It does this by "cloudifying" applications, which prepares them for cloudpaging. These cloudified apps are then stored and published to users across the wire as needed using the cloudpaging technology.

Wait… this sounds familiar.

It turns out Numecent is the new name for the company previously called Endeavors. We haven't heard from Endeavors in a while, presumably because they've been in stealth mode renaming their company and renaming their (very good) application streaming technology "cloudpaging." On the surface, and perhaps a bit deeper, it looks like cloudpaging is nothing more than regular old Windows application streaming.

What's new about cloudpaging?

There are a few things that seem new about this cloudpaging technology. Numecent says they can virtualize 100% of Windows applications, when we all know that no existing application virtualization product works with all the applications out there. It appears the cloudpaging technology can stream operating system virtual disk images, too. That means if you can't package an application, you can simply deploy it as part of Windows (which is exactly what people do today). I guess it's not that new.

Another thing Numecent touts is that cloudpaging can deliver apps to Linux or Android devices, which is interesting from an application streaming perspective. Application streaming implies that the app is packaged and hosted in one place while being streamed to and executed from another place. With Windows, this makes sense. The application is streamed to a device that's running the OS that would normally run the application. But with Android or Linux, the application and the OS are incompatible, so how can cloudpaging support mixed environments?

The answer, at least according to Numecent's website, is that they "borrow a local PC as a GPU server and then 'pixel stream' to your tablet." This looks like an app is streamed to a desktop and the graphics on the desktop are delivered remotely to a client, much like virtual desktop infrastructure and Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services do today.

Numecent offers many videos to back up its assertion that this technology is new, but watching them leads me to believe that this all amounts to new names for existing technology.  At least one video shows a game being delivered from a centralized location to a PC, which is then remoted to a tablet. This reminds me of OnLive, a cloud gaming and cloud desktop company.

All the buzz aside, this cloudpaging technology already exists in other forms -- maybe with some differences in protocols or screen scraping, but I don't believe it addresses any unresolved problems in the desktop virtualization space. Perhaps Numecent saw a hole and is trying to use enterprise desktop virtualization tools to enter the consumer space. For us, though, it's just business as usual.

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.

This was first published in March 2012

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