Under the Radar: Virtual software for real people and businesses

Web apps that make businesses run faster and better are the name of the game at the Under the Radar conference in Mountain View, Calif. Meet four virtual operating systems that boost workers' speed.

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Under the Radar

Virtualization technology lets apps--even entire servers--coexist with localized software, for example, your computer's operating system. Virtualization's value to consumers and businesses is in producing fast, resource-saving experiences that boost productivity for businesses and consumers. Four newly launched companies using this technology share their products at Thursday's Under the Radar Conference, hosted at Microsoft's Mountain View, Calif., office.


First up is DeviceVM's Splashtop, a virtual operating system that hopes to break the cycle of long computer boot-up times by producing the Splashtop desktop a few seconds after the BIOS screen blinks on. You can access the Web, photos, videos, chat, and Skype while Windows finishes loading. You can switch back to the main OS to access Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and other powerhouse apps.

The full-media Web launcher is based on Firefox with Adobe plug-ins. The interface has large, cartoonish, but pleasant-looking, icons for accessing the apps.

Splashtop, which is aimed squarely at consumers, will be integrated into Asus laptops and will be known as ExpressGate on those machines. For some OEMs partnered with DeviceVM, which weren't mentioned by name, Splashtop will add value as a premium service. For others, it will be integrated into every laptop model.


Is Kirill Sheynkman's third Silicon Valley start-up a flexible stab at managing virtual machines in the cloud? His answer: Virtualize a scalable database and sell it as a server to business clients, mostly other start-ups. Elastra Cloud Server stores client data on Amazon's Web Services, taking care of speed and security (though doubt has been cast on the latter issue.)


JumpBox is an open-source app-installer that runs on any major virtualization platforms for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The idea is that each "JumpBox" removes the pain point for users, start-ups, and departments tackling the often thorny and time-consuming installation of open-source products, for techies and non-techies alike. JumpBox sees itself as an enabler and time-saver. A $200 yearly subscription gets the user the 20 open-source apps like MediaWiki and Cacti Network Graphing System in addition to future releases. That's just the introductory price for the company, launched in July 2007. Expect it to rise within the next six months.

The judges pointed out that JumpBox has a lot of commercial competitors, and that users might be reluctant to download and install the open-source apps themselves, which are free already. CEO Kimbro Staken responded that their value-add is trust in a flawless installation and saving two days or more of a workers' time trying to install apps like Trac. Additionally, JumpBox lets companies store sensitive data within their own firewall instead of on the Web.


Universant is a next-generation application modeling environment that helps companies build complex business apps in-house. Universant gathered the most common components for software used to manage corporations into one place. Companies can use Universant's runtime environment in the cloud to build and test apps for free. When it comes time to deploy and distribute that software, Universant opens its pockets.