Virtual Computer Secures $15 Million, Makes Real Friends with Citrix

1/26/09Follow @wroush

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the NxTop engine is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor. (A hypervisor is a hardware control system that can host one or more virtual operating systems.) Citrix’s application virtualization systems also use the Xen hypervisor (it paid half a billion dollars in 2007 for XenSource, a server virtualization company built around the technology)—which helps to explain its interest in Virtual Computer.

“We’ve been watching Virtual Computer since their company launch,” Andy Cohen, Citrix’s senior director of strategic development, said in a statement. “We see great synergy between their use of Xen technology for PC lifecycle management and Project Independence, our recently-announced initiative to dramatically change the economics of desktop computing by enabling devices, desktops, applications and people to operate more independently through the power of client-side Xen virtualization. We look forward to working with Virtual Computer in a mutually beneficial capacity and see our investment as the first step in that direction.”

Citrix’s Project Independence, announced January 21, is a joint effort with Intel to build a Citrix-compatible hypervisor into the processors for new laptops. It will supposedly allow company employees to use their own laptops for work, by accessing a centrally managed desktop environment for work purposes and switching back to their original desktop environments for personal or home use.

Some of the promises Citrix is making about Project Independence—such as the ability to “assure that corporate applications and data are completely isolated from personal data, greatly increasing security”—directly overlap with the features Virtual Computer is advertising for NxTop. It was not clear from the startup’s announcement today how Citrix and Virtual Computer might work together, especially given that Citrix already has its own system for delivering virtualized applications to PCs, called XenDesktop.

Virtual Computer said last year it planned to release a beta version of the NxTop system to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2008 and to a broader group in the first quarter of this year. The $15 million Series B round will allow it to keep NxTop’s development moving and “significantly accelerate” sales and marketing efforts, according to today’s announcement. The company is advertising at least two open positions, for a client-user interface engineer and a graphics engineer.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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