What is a Microvisor ANYway?

Sphere 3D described its Glassware 2.0 technology in its April 3, 2014 press release as follows:

“Glassware 2.0™ is a platform that was designed utilizing a proprietary microvisor and revolutionary topology to achieve application virtualization in the most demanding of circumstances. Utilized in conjunction with hypervisor-based virtualization deployments, it enables true end-to-end virtualization of physical infrastructure.”

And in its Annual MD&A:

“Over the last five years, Sphere 3D has designed a proprietary platform, namely Glassware 2.0™, for the delivery of applications from a server-based computing architecture. The Company has taken a unique approach in that it has built its technology platform without the use of a hypervisor and instead has designed its own microvisor.”

So what’s the issue with their use of the term microvisor (emphasis ours)?  If you go back through Sphere 3D’s previous press releases, financial statements, presentations, and listing applications over the last year and a half you can’t find a single mention of microvisor in any of them. That’s right, the very core of Sphere 3D’s Glassware 2.0 technology wasn’t mentioned until about a month ago. Doesn’t that seem odd?

So what is a “microvisor”? The term has been used by the companies Bromium  and General Dynamics.   Bromium describes their microvisor in this whitepaper  as a “small, security-focused hypervisor” used to isolate operating systems from potential attacks. Bromium even attempted to trademark the term (although the application was eventually abandoned).   General Dynamics’ version is used in mobile phones as described here.   They have not, as far as we know, attempted to trademark the term.

So there you go, Sphere 3D’s Glassware 2.0 product was designed utilizing a proprietary microvisor, a term used by only two other companies (one of which attempted to trademark it). One is for virus protection and the other is for mobile phones. Bromium and General Dynamics provide extensive documentation as to what their product does, how it works, and what it is used for. As usual, Sphere 3D’s documentation is a little less in depth. It consists of two sentences across a press release and Annual MD&A released in the last month.

Finally, given the focus both Bromium and General Dynamics’ microvisors place on security we were surprised to see the following disclosure in Sphere 3D’s latest “risk factors”:

“Plans of Sphere 3D for implementing its business strategy and achieving profitability are based upon the experience, judgment and assumptions of its key management personnel, and upon available information concerning the communications and technology industries. Management does not have experience in the anti-virus industry. If management’s assumptions prove to be incorrect, Sphere 3D will not be successful in establishing its technology business.”

Emphasis ours.

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One thought on “What is a Microvisor ANYway?

  1. Please note that Bromium was founded and managed by two highly regarded computer scientists and PhDs from Cambridge University. They were the inventors and founders of XEN, a hypervisor technology and company purchased by Citrix for $600 million. XEN is also the underpinning technology of Amazon’s AWS platform and technology.

    In other words, these guys know their stuff and have an extraordinary track record.

    Sphere 3D……….not so much 🙂

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