Bromium's MicroVisor promises to end PC desktop security woes

Bromium came out of stealth mode today and introduced a second generation virtualization technology dubbed a MicroVisor that is promised to finally resolve desktop security problems in the PC industry. Enterprises are now being asked to kick the tires on the beta technology.

Bromium is moving out of stealth mode (sort of) with a virtualization technology it hopes will deliver the holy grail of modern computing -- desktop security.

The startup, co-founded by XenSource founder and former Citrix exec Simon Crosby and an exec from BIOS pioneer Phoenix Technologies, has been developing a lightweight hypervisor it calls a MicroVisor that exploits Intel's secure chip technology and isolates operating system services including the file system, network, clipboard, even keystrokes-- from one another and from key system resources.

The technology, now in beta test mode, was debuted at GigaOM's Structure Conferrence today. Crosby won't say how or when it will be productized but noted that it will encompass a mix of open source software (include some Xen stuff) and closed source software and will be sold as a proprietary product. Well, it is security software after all.

The beauty of the client app is that it doesn't impair the user experience or require special management tools, Bromium claims. This solution is said to resolve the biggest obstacle inhibiting BYOD in the enterprise because its satisfies both the needs of the end user and the IT pro.

"In traditional virtualization, you virtualize the hardware. But here we're virtualizing the operating system services and resources," said Crosby, a pioneer in the Xen open source virtualization market. "

"The Microvisor automatically identifies each vulnerable task and instantly hardware-isolates it within a micro-VM, which is a lightweight, hardware-backed isolation container that polices access to all OS services and resources," according to a statement released by the company today. "Micro-VMs run natively, with full performance, but continually protect the desktop – even from unknown threats. "

Bromium also announced that it has received $26.5M Series B funding from Highland Capital Partners and Intel Capital as well as from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Ignition Ventures.

It reminds me of what Microsoft was trying to accomplish with Intel in the early 00s with its "Palladium" and "NGSCB" software efforts and Intel's "LaGrande" or "Trusted Execution Technology" technology in the early days of the PC security crisis. Intel technology plays a big role in the Bromium solution, too. Wonder if Microsoft is helping out too -- the software giant has always been close to XenSource.

It will be interesting to see how many enterprises take the second generation virtualization technology for a spin, considering the huge implications for the PC industry, Microsoft, Windows and national-international cyber-security threats, for that matter.

Execs originally expected to be shipping a product by now but note that they need to engage enterprises in solving what they describe as the biggest problem in the computer industry -- desktop security -- before rushing to market. "We are engaged on a quest for the desktop holy grail – a system that is trustworthy by design," according to a blog posted on the company web site today.