Review: MokaFive virtual desktop deployment

MokaFive allows IT departments to deploy all-in-one virtual desktops to users so that they can work from any PC with an IT-controlled desktop.

MokaFive makes it possible for IT departments to create and deploy all-in-one virtual desktops to users so that they can work from any Windows or Macintosh computer with an IT controlled desktop.

Note: This review was performed based on a publicly available demo of the software.


  • Host Machine Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, or 7, or OS X 1.5 or 1.6 with VMware Fusion 2.06 or 3.0.2
  • Host Hardware Requirements: 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, network connectivity, 8GB drive space, 1024 x 768 (or better) resolution
  • Server Hardware Requirements: 1.3GHz Xeon, 2GB RAM, 120GB drive space, Windows 2003, Java 1.5
  • Additional Information: Product Web site

Who's it for?

IT administrators who have a large number of mobile or offsite workers, or employees who want to work from home will appreciate MokaFive.

What problems does it solve?

MokaFive makes the deployment and use of virtual desktops easy enough to be a serious alternative to centralized, server-based desktops (such as Terminal Services and X) or IT-managed and supported laptops. By combining differentially applied updates, VPN access, and centralized management, the complete package has what IT administrators need to make the move to virtual desktops meet their needs.

Standout features

  • All-in-one: The MokaFive suite handles the network connectivity, remote kill and wipe, authentication, and so on.
  • Differential Deployment: As the base image changes, the clients receive updates as compressed differentials to save bandwidth.
  • Management: IT administrators can perform remote wipe/kill to the virtual desktops.
  • "Clean Slate": Each time the virtual desktop is rebooted, its system and application files are restored to their original condition while user data is left intact.

What's wrong?

  • Complexity: This is a more robust solution than just handing people a VM image, and it requires work on the backend as a result.
  • Long Initial Download: While the updates to the base image come as differentials, the initial image download is as big as an entire OS. Of course, you can always put it on a drive and send the drive, but it is easy to imagine that a large rollout of initial images could easily overwhelm your network.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you are looking for a way to provide users access to their corporate desktops from any machine, you have two major choices: you can use a desktop virtualization system, or you can implement a server-based desktop environment. Up until recently, the latter was really the only realistic choice; most desktops did not have the horsepower to run VMs well, VM technology was not a user-friendly experience, and the management tools for VMs just were not there, particular for security (once they left the building, they were in the wild like a laptop). The latest round of tools such as MokaFive have made virtual desktops an alternative worth considering as an alternative way of provisioning mobile and remote workers (or even internal workers).

The MokaFive package is pretty compelling. While the initial VM download is going to be as big as an OS plus applications (there is no avoiding that), updates afterwards are much smaller. This is a great improvement from the past, where you would need to re-deploy the entire VM image! That being said, you can also deploy the system on a USB drive. So if you need to rollout a large number of images at once, you can just package them up on inexpensive thumb drives and give or mail them to the users.

In addition, the MokaFive player checks with the central server to see if it needs to wipe or kill the image entirely. So if an employee's computer with the image on it is stolen, the virtual desktop can be completely disabled. This is the kind of security feature that IT departments really need. MokaFive also plays nice within the Windows environment, by being compatible with Group Policy and integrating with Active Directory. At the same time, you can run Linux in the virtual desktop environment with no problems. If you are looking for an alternative to systems such as Terminal Services or your existing hodgepodge of homebrewed VM management tools, MokaFive is definitely worth a look.

User rating

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