Citrix founder Ed Iacobucci announced on Tuesday his newest venture, called the VirtualWorks Group. Its first offering, the Virtual Index Architecture (VIA), will enable future enterprise applications to access "a virtual index of all your data content in whatever silos your data might be in ... in the cloud, out of the cloud, in the data center, or anywhere," Iacobucci said.
"This is a big, big project ... it's going to require an ecosystem of developers supporting it ultimately. What we're announcing today is an architecture and a roadmap ... and we're going to be working with partners to fill in some of the gaps," he said.
VIA is just the first piece of a platform-agnostic enterprise platform VirtualWorks is announcing this year, and applications from VirtualWorks and as-yet unnamed partners are forthcoming, he said. The first product platform based on VIA is scheduled for release during summer 2011.
Why the need for an entirely new category of enterprise software? It's a response to the tidal wave of personal devices entering tech--together with tenfold growth of data over networks and across devices and cloud services over the last five years. A data sprawl problem exists, he said, that no one is yet actively solving but threatens to drown IT and users.
The explosion of personal devices in IT, together with the decline in storage costs, has made data management a nightmare for users and IT alike, Iacobucci said. VIA is a direct response to the resulting data sprawl.
"We're not going back to the age of strictly company-issued devices," Iacobucci said, adding that the era of IT control over personal devices is over. "The question isn't how to reverse the consumerization of IT but how to keep track of company data. The issue companies have," he said, "is they have a lot of proprietary data, they need to make sure it is secured properly and the right people are using it in the right place."
Iacobucci, a pioneer in virtualization as founder of Citrix in the early 1990s and former lead engineer of the IBM OS/2 effort in the 1980s, admitted that the company would live or die based on the partnerships it is setting up now.
"Ultimately, the index is only as good as how broad it is," he said. The company is actively setting up partnerships for the platform, which is operating system-agnostic and designed to allow for full indexing across all systems, real and virtual. The VIA platform, which includes an architecture, API, and a base set of cross-indexers, will ideally result in enterprise and user applications designed to better track data across disparate devices and networks, he said.
"For the end user, there can be (applications) that will offer some really useful functions," said Iacobucci. "Like, tell me where all the versions of this file are, show me the places where I have this file, and give me the option to delete them. This isn't limited to the cloud, but could be within a Linux file server, (Microsoft) Active Directory, over Exchange, via SharePoint, Box.net, Gmail, anything."
Iacobucci called his effort a "different type of virtualization ... In this world, where we have multiple virtual machines, cloud-based repositories, drop-box exchange attachments, external drives, wouldn't it be nice to know where things are. But no one does know."
Watch the longer, uncut version of the video interview for a deep explanation of what VirtualWorks is setting out to achieve.
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