Desktop on a USB drive ready for enterprises

Software that lets you carry your data, applications and personal desktop around on a USB-attached device is expanding into enterprises.

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Software that lets you carry your data, applications and personal desktop around on a USB-attached device is expanding into enterprises.

Startup RingCube Technologies's MojoPac software stores a person's computer desktop image on a USB drive to plug in and run on any Windows computer. MojoPac Enterprise Suite is on general release from today.

The software makes it possible for any company's contract workers, telecommuters and travelling employees to store their desktop software applications, files and network access privileges on a remote hard drive, flash drive, or even an iPod, and connect it through the USB port. MojoPac runs virtually as a guest on any Windows XP or Vista PC without affecting the host computer.

RingCube, a 45-person company in Santa Clara, California, is one of just a few companies pursuing this market, although Microsoft is another.

Citrix sells a product that lets IT administrators deliver software applications from a data centre to mobile workers, as well as change access privileges or provide software upgrades. But Shan Appajodu, founder, president and CEO of RingCube, noted that Citrix requires a network connection to the computer whenever the employee wants to use an application.

The applications, settings and access privileges of MojoPac stay on the portable drive, Appajodu said.

MojoPac Enterprise Edition eliminates the time and expense of configuring every employee's and contractor's computer, said Srihari Kumar, vice president of enterprise business for RingCube. Workers can also get the same configuration on their own home computers.

With the user's virtual desktop stored on the USB drive, the software and data are safe in the event a laptop is stolen or a desktop computer is inaccessible, he said.

Ohio University, with 28,000 students in Central Ohio, has 50 MojoPac licences and will have 200 within a month, said Brad Sayers at the university.

RingCube's solution could help employers serve their increasingly distributed workforces but it could also address ecurity concerns, said Gerry Purdy, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan.

"Companies today have a lot of remote access needs, and they are also trying to control software and access to systems," Purdy said. "This gives employees access to the applications that they need remotely, but still gives control to IT."

Other firms working in the area include Microsoft, which entered into an agreement in May with SanDisk to develop a product to store applications and personal settings on SanDisk USB flash drives. The Microsoft-SanDisk solution is due out in the second half of 2008. VMware also said in March it is beta-testing a new version of its desktop virtualidation software that also would allow someone to carry their virtual desktop on a USB device.

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