Microsoft expands its virtualization vision with Kidaro acquisition

With another bold move and strategic acquisition under way, Microsoft is continuing the aggressive advancement of its virtualization vision. It wasn't long ago when the company was being accused of moving at a rather slow pace after it had consumed the desktop and server virtualization intellectual property from Connectix Corporation in 2003; and then more of the same seemed to happen after they acquired Softric

With another bold move and strategic acquisition under way, Microsoft is continuing the aggressive advancement of its virtualization vision.

It wasn't long ago when the company was being accused of moving at a rather slow pace after it had consumed the desktop and server virtualization intellectual property from Connectix Corporation in 2003; and then more of the same seemed to happen after they acquired Softricity's application virtualization in 2006.

But since then, Microsoft has been moving rather aggressively to grab more of the virtualization market share. The latest move has Microsoft buying enterprise desktop virtualization solutions provider Kidaro for an undisclosed amount. Although some market sources are reporting that the acquisition could be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. Kidaro entered the virtualization scene about 17 months ago when they gave me an exclusive on their launch right here on the InfoWorld Virtualization Report. At the same time, I was also given the opportunity to speak to the company's founder, Ran Kohavi. And I've been following the company's journey since that time.

Kidaro's Managed Workspace product allows enterprise data and applications to operate wrapped within a transparent virtual machine layer that provides enterprise class management and deployment. Doing so will also breathe new life into Microsoft's Virtual PC product. In April of last year, InfoWorld reviewed the product as Randall Kennedy put it through the InfoWorld Test Center process.

The new technology will give Microsoft an enormous boost on the security side of the equation and will give the company its own offering to compete with VMware's ACE product. When asked about this comparison to ACE, Kidaro CEO Kevin Brown told me that while Kidaro certainly provides an answer to the features of VMware's ACE product, the impact of Kidaro's technology as part of Microsoft has an opportunity to be much broader. And I completely agree.

Andi Mann, Research Director at Enterprise Management Associates told me that he believed this was a great acquisition for Microsoft. Mann said, "Kidaro has a very strong solution for local desktop virtualization, with real benefits in security, manageability, DR, continuity, and migration - strong enough that EMA rated Kidaro as a Rising Star for Desktop Virtualization in our latest EMA All-Stars report."

Talking about what Kidaro offers the end user, Mann went on to say, "They also have some substantial customers. I spoke to a Fortune 500 Wall-St firm that avoided an annual cost of $4 million on laptop refreshes alone, and solved a difficult requirement to provide a highly secure mobile banking platform, by using Kidaro."

Microsoft said that Kidaro's technology would be rolled up into a suite of desktop management tools known as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance which currently includes five key technologies that help enterprises manage their desktops: Microsoft Application Virtualization, Microsoft Asset Inventory Service, Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management, Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset and Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring. In order to access the Kidaro capabilities, Microsoft Software Assurance customers will need to subscribe to an add-on service.

Mann described how this acquisition helps further fill out Microsoft's virtualization portfolio. "They now have virtualization solutions for server, OS, local desktop, remote desktop, application/streaming, and even grid/cluster." Mann continued, "With a management solution, and partnerships (like Citrix and Novell) that extend the portfolio even more, even VMware looks a little sparse next to that sort of lineup."

When asked if he would be joining Microsoft, CEO Kevin Brown said "We're still in the planning process, but it's safe to say that people and technology are a very important part of this deal."

Brown also said that in his opinion, "virtualization will be a powerful vehicle for delivery of many desktop computing features; we're looking forward to working with our major customers to maximize the value to them."

More information about the acquisition of Kidaro and its role in Microsoft's virtualization strategy is available at the Windows Virtualization team blog.

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