KVM & eyeOS Unified Workspace

Barcelona. December 18th, 2012.
European start up eyeOS has built a name in the Open Source community as one of the most successful B2B software projects in Europe with 1 million downloads of its Web Desktop software.

In 2011, with new trends like mobility, tablets, multiple OS and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) picking up quickly, the company decided to focus on helping businesses deploy lighter solutions for client computing. For that purpose, it expanded the scope of its product from a pure Web-based interface to a full-fledged platform that can manage users, preferences, and deliver all types of applications.

The most critical challenge to be addressed by eyeOS was the handling of legacy applications. Even though more and more companies are deploying Web-based applications, some critical activities still rely on software applications – from SAP to Microsoft Office – that don’t offer a native web client. This is particularly true for all the enterprise applications tailor made to specific customers.

In 2012 eyeOS developed a connector to Citrix’ XenApp to call and serve virtualized applications directly from the eyeOS desktop. But customers have continued to ask for a more radical approach that could fully substitute the use of Citrix.

The challenge was to develop an alternative that would meet the following three conditions:

  1. to integrate fully into eyeOS Web Desktop for a seamless user experience: users don’t want to be reminded every time they switch on and off to a virtualized application
  2. to achieve outstanding performance both in speed – lack of latency – and image quality – so the user doesn’t notice when he or she is working with a server based virtualized application
  3. to draw from collective wisdom by leveraging well known open source building blocks: it was a measure of both speed of execution and efficiency in getting support for the stack

eyeOS’ R&D team eventually settled for a stack made of Hypervisor KVM and RedHat’s open source SPICE remoting protocol. OpenStack, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) or IBM native solution Flex Manager in its PureFlex Appliances are the alternatives to handle virtual machines server management depending on the client or the Managed Service Provider (MSP) infrastructure where the solution is going to be deployed.

To meet its first requirement, eyeOS has developed a web connector that plugs into SPICE in order to convert directly the output of SPICE into code that is HTML5 compliant. The virtualized application can be then captured in a browser and easily integrated into eyeOS Web Desktop interface. Such integration also means that no agent is required in the client device, just a browser.

For eyeOS’ new product, SPICE was the critical piece in the stack: SPICE emulates a graphical card that converts any application’s screen into a sequence of low-level graphical orders. Getting access to these low-level graphical orders was a critical pre-requisite to secure a fast transfer of data and bring latency almost to zero. eyeOS Web connector translates these orders into JavaScript for rebuild into an HTML5 canvas. The image generation takes place at the client device, thus offloading the Back End servers.

KVM was a natural choice since remoting protocol SPICE only runs on KVM.
But the choice has had its own rewards: thanks to KVM, eyeOS’ web engine can run both Windows and Linux VMs. This is an appealing option in case the applications to be virtualized can run on Linux. But most importantly, KVM is proving to be an excellent hypervisor for Windows VMs even though this hypervisor has gained fame in the Linux World.

While Citrix’s XenApp requires 250 Mega of RAM per user in the server (assuming the desktop and the 3 Office apps are open) and Citrix’ XenDesktop requires 4 Giga, KVM, with its ballooning and KSM features activated, consumes only 550 Mega for a full Windows 7 OS plus the three Office applications open. This result can be achieved because the Windows 7 OS in the VM is only leveraged to make the Windows based applications run. When called from the Web Desktop Interface, only the applications are served: the user doesn’t see Windows since the desktop functions are covered by eyeOS Web Desktop Interface.

Michel Kisfaludi, eyeOS CEO, confirms the reasons the company picked KVM: “KVM is a very strong hypervisor that gained reputation for Linux Desktop virtualization. It is less known that KVM performance in virtualizing Windows desktops is also outstanding. Besides KVM works with SPICE and allows for several options for the VM management software”

IBM Pureflex with KVM is a great hosting platform for eyeOS because of its high capacity for memory, I/O and storage, and the flexibility to add resources as the workload grows, allowing our clients to support more virtual desktops per server.

In addition to supporting KVM virtualized environments, eyeOS has been used for virtual Linux desktop cloud services hosted on IBM System z, as documented in the Redpaper “Performance Test of Virtual Linux Desktop Cloud Services on System z”.

eyeOS will launch this new Web Desktop product in Q1 2013 and hopes to tap both the MSP market, where providers are creating value added services by packaging several applications into an attractive workspace that can be consumed from a simple browser, and the enterprise market where companies are looking at ways to reduce client computing costs while retaining the control of the delivery.

About the Company

eyeOS is a European infrastructure software start-up founded in Barcelona by young visionaries after their Wed Desktop Open Source version reached 1 000 000 downloads worldwide. The company was named Cool Vendor in IT Operations by Gartner in 2011.

About the product

eyeOS Unified Desktop is a private cloud software solution that includes a web desktop interface (what the user sees), a user management platform (what IT uses) and a virtualization engine.
It helps enterprises aggregate files, data and applications through a single point of access in a browser with a user friendly interface that recreates a desktop.

It is a unique approach to client computing: while VDI virtualizes all of the desktop, eyeOS creates a desktop in the client’s browser and serves applications via the most efficient protocol – Web services for compatible applications and/or virtualized for legacy applications.

eyeOS product is a Private Cloud solution that is deployed in the client’s servers or any third party. It integrates seamlessly with the client’s existing IT infrastructure. eyeOS desktop is highly customizable. It also includes several key native applications for file viewing, synchronization, sharing and management, and corporate social networking (wall, groups, chat, etc.)

Go-to-Market Strategy

eyeOS sells through VARs for on premise installations and through MSPs and OEMs for DaaS.

Use cases

Implementing a BYOD policy
Your company is targeting cost savings in Personal Computing. eyeOS solution helps you create a fully operational workspace that can be accessed from any browser with all the company applications available. Employees use their PC, Macs or tablets to access securely the company workspace while the IT department retains full control of the user experience.

Making Apps SaaS ready
ISV with a successful Windows application with no web client. eyeOS Web Engine helps webizise the App at marginal cost.

Setting a DaaS service integrated with an App Store
Telecom operator or a hosting company targeting SOHO and SMB customers with a virtual PC offering in a SaaS mode, pre-packed with selected enterprise applications. eyeOS solution helps build a DaaS offering on top of the IaaS platform while connecting to an App store and the storage infrastructure.

Delivering a maintenance free workspace to Agents
Insurance company working with a large network of independent agents. To make sure that all the agents will be able to access the company’s transactional application from their PC, Mac, tablets, without worrying about their OS, the hardware or their local setting.

 

Download article as PDF