Virtualization has become one of the biggest buzzwords thrown around the IT industry over the last few years. The technology itself has so many different applications, but most people think about server or hardware virtualization when talking about the technology. Application virtualization is starting to get recognized in the industry, while OS virtualization or containers is still relatively unknown even though it has been around for quite some time.
There are two commercial players in this space that stand out: Sun Microsystems and Parallels.
While Sun has been slowly moving toward hardware virtualization, the company has been offering its Solaris Containers (Zones) solution for quite a while to Solaris users.
Parallels on the other hand continues to sell its Parallels Virtuozzo Containers offering for Windows and Linux; and through its deals with hosting companies, it remains the leader in OS virtualization.
A new player in this OS virtualization market has now emerged from stealth mode: iCore Software.
The company was founded in 2007 by a group of students from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technologies (MIPT) in Russia where the company's R&D center remains.
Their vision is to help make computing safe through easy adaptation of virtualization technology. To that end, iCore Software has released Computer 3-in-1 -- the first container-based virtualization product for the Microsoft Windows XP Operating System.
Yes, the company is bringing to market a home-based version of OS virtualization.
iCore's container solution, called iCore Virtual Accounts, isolates and protects the various 'identities' or roles that a home computer may have such as work, kids, games, or Internet. For every application and/or user, Virtual Account is an autonomous OS.
Each Virtual Account has full dedicated PC functionality with its own processes, files, and applications by using a virtualization layer in the kernel of the host OS. And unlike other Virtual Machines, iCore enables running VA with near-zero overhead. The company claims just 1-2 percent overhead.
And because iCore isn't using hypervisor technology, it eliminates the need for driver emulation which translates to faster performance. It can also make use of your modern video card, game adapter, etc. And it eliminates the need for additional OS licenses. Compared with hypervisor technology, an iCore system:
- only uses a negligible part of the CPU resource on virtualization (around 1-2 percent)
- uses all the power of your hardware
- operating memory is shared dynamically
- the amount of storage space required to host a given number of VMs can be significantly smaller. Each freshly built iCore virtual machine can take only about 20MB.
- once the host has been patched, those updates are immediately seen within each virtual machines.