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Article: CEO Interview: Glenda Dorchak of VirtualLogix

Feb 16, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 29 views

Foreword — Glenda Dorchak joined embedded and real-time virtualization specialist VirtualLogix in January, taking over the CEO role. Dorchak has 30 years of tech industry management experience, most recently at Windows Mobile device specialist Intrinsyc, and plans to focus the company on high-growth… markets, she said.

(Click for larger portrait of Glenda Dorchak

LinuxDevices spoke with Ms. Dorchak a few days before the 2009 Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona. Here's how the conversation went. Enjoy . . . !

Q1 — VirtualLogix has broadly pursued three markets, with the VLX stack — set-top boxes, carrier infrastructure, and mobile. Which of these markets have proven the most successful, and will the strategic focus stay the same, or broaden, or perhaps coalesce around one of these markets?

A1 — You are right that the company has had a very broad focus, which is a testament to the adaptability of our technology, and the talent of our engineers. However, we are moving to a more focused business model. We see the strongest market opportunity in mobile handsets — see our Linux phone PR yesterday [story]. We also see opportunity in other wireless device categories (MID, thin clients, etc.), and in selected infrastructure platforms with specific customers. We have had good traction in all of these areas, based on our power management, security, and platform management services.

From a business standpoint right now, there's not as good an opportunity to pursue AC-powered products, unless I see a market shift that I think we could get out ahead of. You don't see us rushing out to do set-top boxes, for example.

Q1b — With regard to VirtualLogix's single-core ARM9 Android demo at MWC — is that a proof-of-concept, or do you really see this processor — which is several generations old now — as viable for the Android stack?

A1b — You shouldn't look at ARM9 as legacy. It's at the pricepoint that you want for the high-volume market. Current smartphones may have a bill-of-materials between $200 and $300. The operator can subsidize it, but there's still a cost to the consumer. If you drop the BoM to $100, the operator can give the phone away. Then, they can actually deliver services to it.

I don't know if you've been following the “$99 iPhone” story, but it's the same concept. When the iPhone gets to $99, it doesn't matter what it looks like. That price point becomes accessible to a new group of people.

Q1b — We've covered several wins for VirtualLogix in reference designs, but so far no widely shipping phones. Meanwhile, one of your competitors, OK Labs, claims to be shipping in large volume in phones.

A1b — There are companies out there that may be doing virtualization on a lot of phones, but that's with standard RTOS platforms. I can tell you with certainty that no one has done virtualization yet with an open OS like Linux, Windows, or Symbian.

We haven't announced any customer-specific activity. As soon as we're in a position to do that, we will. We feel a lot of traction, based on the current market. And, we expect to show up in more than cell phones. You'll see us in other mobile devices besides the handset in time. [See VirtualLogix's [recent MID announcement]

Q1c — Some of VirtualLogix's competitors have in the past claimed to have superior security, for example due to microkernel architectures. Has security been a hurdle for VirtualLogix in the phone market?

A1c — We actually think that hypervisors can be quite secure. We solve the problem differently, but very well.

It may not always be seen as a strength in the device market, but there is a lot of development experience at VirtualLogix that goes back to Sun/Chorus days [ed. note: VirtualLogix, formerly Jaluna, was founded in 2002 by the creators of Sun's Chorus microkernel operating system]. Hence, we have a very high understanding of enterprise-level computing, including security, and we bring that to the mobile segment. We do think security is one of the toughest things to solve for… and we think we do it as well as any other company.

A1d — Are you still pursuing EAL certification for the VLX hypervisor, as part of that special project announced by the French government some years back? [story]

Q1d — I'm not sure how much we can talk about there. Having worked at Intel for many years, I have a great deal of respect for NDAs. But yes, that project is ongoing.

Q2 — The VLX stacks have mainly been marketed as supporting Linux and legacy RTOSes. Will this OS strategy broaden to include other open device OSes, such as Windows Mobile, Soleus, and/or Symbian? Or does that depend on customer interest?

A2 — Given your focus on Linux, you'll be pleased to know that we plan to focus on Linux. Linux+RTOS is a core strength. As you know, I come from Intrinsyc, which has a focus on Windows Mobile and Symbian. But I have “seen the light.”

But while we do a lot in Linux, we have strength in all of them. You will have seen the Symbian Foundation announcement yesterday, and we are one of a select group of companies to be invited to participate in the Symbian Foundation. We've also done things with Windows [see here, , and here].

Q2a — VLX uses paravirtualized OSes, right? I mean, at least on processors without virtualization hardware, some modifications have to be made to the guest OS? And now you've done that for the Android kernel, and a baseband RTOS. What about LiMo? Are you still involved in that organization?

A2a — That's right. Today, we're running Android and an RTOS side-by-side. All the work to integrate the RTOS has been done, so to replace Android, we'd just have to change the open OS. And, once we do Android on one hardware platform, we can easily move it to another.

VirtualLogix has been very involved with many Linux memberships. We were a founding member of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS), for example, and came into LiMo when the organizations merged [story]. We're watching LiMo very closely. We're talking to customers around the world, and the interesting thing that everyone's talking about right now is Android. But, we're seeing a lot of people still committed to LiMo, too.

[ed. note: VirtualLogix also participates in the Linux Foundation]

Q3 — The virtualization market has seen some consolidation recently, with VMware's purchase of Trango [story], and Citrix rumored to be speaking with OK Labs [story]. Does VirtualLogix have an “exit strategy,” such as an acquisition or public offering, or does it plan to remain an independent company in the current market?

A3 — We don't speculate on that type of thing publicly. Overall though, today our focus is on driving design wins and growth. We have great technology, a hot market opportunity in our focus segments, and a great team.

Q4 — How many work at VirtualLogix?

A4 — Our headcount fluctuates, but is currently between 40 and 50. A high percentage are engineers, because we're a technology company.

Q5 — Will you keep your Silicon Valley headquarters, or re-group back in France?

A5 — Having commuted to my last job — and that being one of the reasons I'm not doing that any more — no, our headquarters is in Sunnyvale. We are very focused on building our business globally, though. There is a lot of growth opportunity in Asia, and I'll be bringing in some highly qualified people from my past to help build our sales and business development teams. That includes our recently appointed CFO, Nigel Martin, a 26-year veteran of Ernst and Young.

Q6 — What other changes do you anticipate for the company?

A6 — We'll be more active in announcing patent filings, and in publishing technical whitepapers. We want to be very active in technical discussions. Right now, there's a lot discussion around how you create a secure environment on mobile devices, and the dynamics around mobile security are very volatile right now. It's increasingly a high-target platform, and you don't have the benefit of being able to [run security applications with large footprints]. We're going to have to see some standardization of how mobile security is addressed.

Q7 — I know that in the past, Jaluna was one of the better-funded start-ups in France, and has also had equity investments from several large chip companies, as well as from Motorola and possibly others in the infrastructure market. What's the current funding picture like for VirtualLogix. Will you still be around a couple of years from now?

A7 VirtualLogix has had excellent funding but has taken a number of precautionary measures to reduce spending. We are no different than any other business in this economy and are very focused on both cash management as well as growth.

About the interviewee — Glenda Dorchak is a thirty year technology industry veteran who joined VirtualLogix as CEO in January, 2009. Most recently, she was the chairman and CEO of Intrinsyc Software, a publicly traded Wireless software and engineering services business based in Vancouver Canada and specializing in telephony solutions.

Ms. Dorchak was an executive with Intel Corporation from 2001 to 2006, including vice president and COO of Intel Communications Group; vice president and general manager of Intel's Consumer Electronics Group; and, vice president and general manager, Broadband Products Group. Prior to her tenure at Intel, she served as chairman and CEO of Value America, Inc., an online retailer that pioneered the sale of consumer products on the Internet. In 1999, Ms. Dorchak was named one of the “Top 25 Executives of the New Millennium” by Computer Reseller News, for growing Value America to a position of acknowledged industry leadership in online merchandising in the technology sector. The majority of Ms. Dorchak's career was spent with IBM, both in IBM Canada, and later with IBM Corporation based in Raleigh NC, where she held executive positions with the IBM Personal Systems Group, including directorships with the Ambra Systems group and IBM PC Direct North America.

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