KACE Kontainers - another take on application virtualization

KACE has chosen a set of target markets that are often quite demanding and have little money to spend. This means the company faces quite a circus act - balancing on the back of a prancing pony. These markets expect high levels of service and often "go public" when they're not happy - even when the unhappiness is clearly due to the customers own lack of expertise, planning or problems.

What can an organization do when it realizes that it just doesn't make sense to heard every workload into a virtual machine but wants the benefits of workload isolation, workload delivery and ease of updating and management that approach offers? It can consider other forms of virtualization including operating system virtualization/partitioning or forms of application virtualization. Recently, I spoke wit representatives of KACE about their new offering, KACE Virtual Kontainers. Unlike other the appraoch being offered by other application virtualization suppliers, KACE has taken the approach of offering their product as either a software appliance or an appliance server rather than as a packaged software product.  I suppose that this decision was taken to make the product easier to deploy. It also means that KACE can better control the environment in which their product runs. Can they win in a hotly contested market is my key question.

Here's what the company has to say about Virtual Kontainers

Application virtualization is a breakthrough technology that can improve the portability, manageability and compatibility of applications by encapsulating them from the underlying operating system on which they are executed, essentially providing the ability to run them without installing them. Because virtualized applications run in their own container separate from the operating system and one another, they are dramatically simpler to deploy, manage and remove. With application virtualization, all deployments are silent and application conflicts and OS slowdowns associated with traditional installations are eliminated.

Application Virtualization without the Cost and Complexity
While some application virtualization solutions are notoriously costly and complex, KACE Virtual Kontainers continue the tradition of ease of use by integrating virtual application technology within the KBOX Systems Management appliance. This allows users to easily create, deploy and manage the Virtual Kontainers directly from the KBOX console without special skills or extensive training, making them appealing to enterprises of all sizes. More about all of the capabilities of the KACE Virtual Kontainers can be found on the KBOX Systems Management appliance features page.
Benefits of KACE Virtual Kontainers
Because applications can now be contained within a KACE Virtual Kontainer, they eliminate such labor intensive tasks as regression testing, script creation for installation customizations, application repackaging and troubleshooting of the application installation, update and removal processes.

This concept of application isolation presents a number of added benefits:

  • Simple application deployment, management and removal
  • Complete isolation to eliminate the need for file and registry changes on target systems
  • Unparalleled ability to view and control the state of a deployed application
  • Ability to run multiple versions of the same application simultaneously
  • Ability to perform easy rollback to prior versions
  • Simple repair of user setting changes
  • Effective license control through active metering

Snapshot analysis

There are many suppliers of application virtualization technology, some focus on application encapsulation and delivery to client systems. Others focus on encapsulation of applications for deployment on servers. KACE's focus is on Windows-based (Windows 2000 and up) client systems not server workloads. This means that KACE has set itself up to compete with suppliers such as Microsoft, VMware, Citrix and a host of smaller companies.

The major difference is that KACE has focused on delivering the software solely in the form of a virtual or physical appliance. Since KACE's target customer is a smaller organization, that choice is workable.  Appliances are typically easier to install and manage. Organizations having greater levels of expertise would not be as happy with that choice. They'd want greater flexibility and control than KACE allows at this time.

Kusnetzky's shoot-from-the-hip advice

<revised advice>

KACE informed me that my previous suggestion to focus on SMB was something they have been doing for quite some time.  I guess that means that I was partially right.  The company has long seen that the SMB market is really diverse and offers opportunities for KACE even though they face strong competition from Microsoft, VMware and Citrix.

I would still suggest flying "under the radar" by maintaining a tight focus on the customer's needs to develop a level of trust that KACE will do what the "big boys" won't always do. That is, provide close personal attention.

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