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Citrix eying OKLabs buy?

Jan 15, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Embedded hypervisor vendor Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) announced that it has received $7.6 million in new venture capital funding. Investments from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and thin-client giant Citrix Systems signal a major boost for the mobile virtualization vendor — and possibly a pending acquisition by Citrix.

Chrysalis Ventures led the investment round, with Neo adding to a previous investment, and Citrix investing an undisclosed amount for the first time. OK Labs says it will use the investment to fund global expansion of its research and development and business channels, and to extend regional support throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The company also said it hopes to benefit from the expertise of Chrysalis Ventures partners like John Willmoth, a former senior executive at Sprint Nextel.

Any VC investment in the current financial crunch and recession is newsworthy, especially considering the financial troubles of fellow embedded virtualization vendor VirtualLogix, which recently announced layoffs and management changes. Meanwhile, another competitor in the embedded virtualization space, Trango, was recently acquired by VMWare. (In the embedded products industry at large, meanwhile, Motorola today announced it would lay off an additional 4,000 workers after announcing a 3,000-employee cut last Fall, with 3,000 of the new layoffs occurring in the Mobile Devices business.)

According to OK Labs, its Linux-ready OKL4 microkernel for processor virtualization is deployed in 250 million handsets and other mobile and embedded devices. OKL4 is a microkernel OS that runs almost everything in userspace. The OS includes a thin hardware abstraction layer that can support Linux, Windows Mobile, Windows CE, Symbian, and/or other guest OSes. It also includes a minimal POSIX-compliant execution environment, enabling multiple applications and device drivers to run in separate, isolated partitions. Last month, OK Labs announced that OKL4 will support devices using ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 MP Core multi-core CPUs.

The Citrix stake: Partnership or pending acquisition?

Citrix pioneered the market for thin-client networking stacks. As the trend toward virtualized thin clients approached, it acquired desktop hypervisor vendor XenSource, and last year, released the Linux-ready XenDesktop, which competes with VMware's thin client virtualization products. Thus, Citrix's investment in OK Labs has led to speculation that it could acquire the company in reaction to VWware's purchase of Trango. Both lightweight “embedded” virtualization technologies could potentially be used to integrate mobile devices into enterprise virtual computing environments, with OKLab's OKL4 hypervisor being particularly well-proven in mobile phones.

Citrix Corporate VP Strategic Development Michael Cristinziano stated, “Virtualization will act as a catalyst for optimized application delivery to a large and growing class of mobile devices. Together, OK Labs and Citrix can further enable businesses to extend enterprise applications beyond the desktop.”

For its part, OK Labs stated, “The combination of the Citrix virtualization-based application delivery infrastructure and OKL4 ushers in the industry's next wave of application and services solutions. Together, Citrix and OK Labs provide a secure and robust end-to-end applications delivery platform for the entire mobile/internet ecosystem.”

Stated Steve Subar, Open Kernel Labs CEO, “With this investment, OK Labs is positioned to amplify our unique position as the only embedded virtualization solution shipping on handsets today.”

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