Iomega’s vClone; New “Mobile” Computing
Iomega, of ZipDisk fame, is trying to write a new chapter in mobile computing. If you get really attached to your working environment, you might wish you could drag your PC with you, but that’s not always practical. VPN is nice, but not always available. And sometimes… even a laptop doesn’t meet your needs. You’re just looking for something easier. Iomega’s new vClone technology apparently lets you do a brain-transplant on whatever PC you wish. Bring your comfy computing environment anywhere by using a simple USB hard drive. Sound too good to be true? It almost is. Here’s the scoop:
You might have forgotten about Iomega, but with vClone, they’re trying hard to make a name for themselves again. It works like this: You have an Iomega external HDD. You’ve got a current image of your PC on it. You go over to your friends computer, your work computer, maybe a new computer that isn’t all set up. You plug in the HDD, and load up the special vClone software, and just like that, you’re on your ‘own’ machine. When you’re done, you unplug the drive, and all that’s left on the host computer is the vClone client. No system changes at all. However, there is this interesting proviso:
*v.Clone technology is not compatible with Mac computers or PCs that do not allow installation of an application (v.Clone player), such as those at Internet cafes and other public places. v.Clone does not work with all PC operating systems.
That caveat non-withstanding, when all things are working, all you have to do is re-plug in your drive to your primary machine, and all your software and file changes get re-synced. Iomega’s white-paper says that they’re looking to demonstrate the software at CES 2010. The software has been built in part, with help from storage giant EMC and virtualization gurus VMWare. How closely Iomega worked with them, isn’t said.
So this is all well and good. VAR implications? It feels like it gets sandwiched next to desktop virtualization and/or using thin-clients in the work place. Maybe something more practical like: a more robust thin-client where every employee gets a hard drive. Then there’s minimal issue of hardware failure and employees can actually work from home much more efficiently (if need be).
There is one thing to note here, however. It’s that it seems awfully clunky. You’re running a VM layer on a machine that might not be too keen on virtualization in the first place. And, you have to install software to get your own software. Once the cool factor fades away along with the reality distortion field, this is a sweet device if implemented correctly, but could be a headache on a crummy ‘host’ computer.
Not to mention; people have be putting Linux (and yes, even OS X) on USB flash drives for quite some time now. At college, I carried a 2GB flash drive with Linux on it. The “reference only” computers rebooted from the flash drive turned into “do whatever I want” computers. I could carry that anywhere, and I wasn’t locked down to a VM layer or operating system constrains.
Yeah, it’s not your cozy Windows environment, but it’s doable. But all that being said, this is a step in the right direction for Iomega and it’s something we haven’t really seen in the market. Like all the goodies and gadgets coming out this week, we’ll have to see how it fares at CES 2010. Hopefully vClone doesn’t go the way of the ZipDisk.