VMware gobbles up CloudVolumes for real-time app delivery

small__2335593798VMware has just gobbled up a pre-VMworld 2014 snack, adding to its desktop virtualization stack by acquiring real-time application delivery firm CloudVolumes.

The company kept schtum on how much money it shelled out, but was eager to talk about why it did. Kit Colber, VMware’s CTO, spoke enthusiastically about CloudVolumes’ “layering” technique which he describes as “decomposing a Windows instance into a set of discrete pieces.”

The technique is useful because once those pieces – which could be the OS, an app, or data – are ‘decomposed’, it’s much easier to add them back in.

CloudVolumes’ specific area of expertise is putting apps into desktops, either physical or virtual, extremely quickly. It’s app delivery tech enables all files, data and apps used by more than one virtual machine to be placed into shared virtual volumes. Apps are packaged within a container that can be rapidly copied to multiple users. Admins simply set the app’s basic configuration within a single “gold master” copy that can then be shared. Customized settings for each user are then maintained within the user’s own environment.

Layering works with both desktops and Windows and Linux servers. It also works with XenApp and XenDesktop, which are desktop virtualization offerings from VMware’s big rival Citrix.

What with VMware’s desire to create a mobile device app store experience for any device, the ability to deliver apps anywhere is certainly going to be useful.

As Colbert explains, “The opportunity we have with CloudVolumes is to extend that same simple, mobile-like process to the desktop”. And one would assume it could also extend that process to the server as well.

VMware may have gobbled up CloudVolumes because its own ThinApp tech was struggling to deliver this experience. The way CloudVolumes goes about things is certainly ingenious – as Colbert explains, the applications it provisions to desktops aren’t really installed.

“No files are copied, no settings are changed, and desktops no longer need to be powered on for IT to manage applications,” he wrote. “Instead, CloudVolumes leverages an innovative filesystem filter driver and, on Windows, a registry virtualization driver to make it appear to the guest operating system and other applications as if an application is installed, when in reality it resides on the layer that was added to the desktop.”

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