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6/11/2008
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John Foley
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Startup Of The Week: MokaFive Can Be Used To Create And Manage Virtual PCs

The company's product lets IT admins deploy virtual PCs that don't require a constant connection to a central server to work.

The trend toward virtual desktops, where desktop computers have the look and feel of full-fledged PCs without all the software, is catching on, but there's no single way to do it. MokaFive has just come out with a product that lets IT administrators deploy virtual PCs that don't require a constant connection to a central server to work. --John Foley

MOKAFIVE


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Lam's research at Stanford in 2001 was the start of it all

HEADQUARTERS: Redwood City, Calif.

PRODUCT: MokaFive Virtual Desktop Solution, a software stack for creating and managing virtual PCs

PRINCIPALS: Bill Demas, president and CEO; Monica Lam, founder and chief scientist; John Whaley, founder and CTO

INVESTORS: Highland Capital Partners, Khosla Ventures

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Fenwick & West, an unnamed HMO


WHY VIRTUAL DESKTOPS
IT departments have a love-hate relationship with PCs. We love their power and functionality, but hate the expense, hands-on management, and security issues. Virtual desktops offer the best of both worlds--the applications that users require without a full software stack on every PC. MokaFive is used to create, deploy, update, and manage virtual PCs.

THE COMPONENTS
The MokaFive platform consists of a tool, the Creator, for creating and distributing virtual desktops, called LivePCs. Users get the MokaFive Player to access their virtual desktops. The Player is available for Windows, Mac, and BareMetal Linux. MokaFive also offers a service, based on Amazon.com's S3 storage service, with which IT administrators can host LivePCs. MokaFive is available in a free Express version for those who want to tinker and a full-fledged Professional edition for enterprise use.

WHAT'S DIFFERENT
Some virtual PC architectures require a connection to a host server, while thin-client approaches range from dumb terminals to diskless hybrid clients that do some, but not all, processing. MokaFive assumes that LivePCs are being used on x86 PCs and, while LivePCs are centrally managed, they don't require a constant network connection. That means they work on mobile laptops and disconnected PCs. LivePCs are cached locally on PCs, and they can be carried on USB flash drives and iPods.

BRAIN TRUST
The company was founded in 2005 by Stanford University computer science professor Lam and a few of her colleagues. CEO Demas was previously general manager of Overture Services, acquired by Yahoo.

TIMELINE
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