Feeds

Startup makes thin clients look chubby

The zero client

Build a business case: developing custom apps

VMworld This week's VMworld conference in San Francisco was the coming-out party for the thinnest thin client we've ever encountered, a sub-pint-sized desktop appliance from Pano Logic of Menlo Park, California.

Actually, according to the company's EVP of engineering Parmeet Chaddha, thin client - even emaciated client - isn't the correct term for the Pano Device.

"This is a zero end point," he told The Reg, "or as we call it, a zero client."

Zero is quite descriptive of the Pano Device's complexity, although not of its capabilities. The Device is a black or silver almost-cube that's 3.5 inches square at its base, 2 inches tall, and weighs in at 1.1 pound. It has no microprocessor or graphics processor. Its role is merely to connect over LAN or WAN to VMware ESX-based virtual machines and present the user with a desktop view of that VM.

Pano Logic's Pano Device

Thin's no longer in - zero's the new hero

The software suite that connects and controls the Pano Device is the aptly named Pano System. At the heart of the System is the Pano Manager, which sits between the Device and the Pano Direct Service, a lightweight Windows service that lives inside each VM.

The purposes of the Pano System are simple: control, centralization, security, and ease of use. As Chaddha told us, "If someone is looking to centralize 100 per cent of the compute cycles in the data center, then this is really the only game in town."

The zero-client definition, Chaddha said, is due to the fact that the Pano Device contains no processor, no software, no drivers, requires no patching, no configuration. "It is as dumb as a telephone," he said.

Since the Device has nothing stored in it, security is well-nigh absolute. "Somebody can walk away with it, but they couldn't do anything with it. The only way it's going to work is when there's Pano software on the back end to light it up."

The Device communicates with the System over a Pano-proprietary UDP-based protocol that Chaddha describes as being "where all the secret sauce lies" and that he claims ensures a seamless and snappy user experience when display, keyboard, and mouse are connected to the thoroughly dumb Device. "Think of this simply as a frame buffer," he said.

The Device contains one DB-15 VGA port that supports resolutions up to 1920x1200 (a DVI version is under development), one 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and three USB 2.0 ports, an internal speaker, one 16-bit audio-out mini jack (with video sync). Despite the presence of an audio-in mini jack, that capability is not yet ready.

Pano Logic's Pano Device

The host software will tell you which ports you can use

When the Device is plugged into the network, the System recognizes it by its MAC address - the Device itself doesn't announce its presence to the System, but is instead discovered by it. The MAC address is then associated with a dynamic IP address, a handshake is established, and the Manager will present a logon screen to the user, who will - you guessed it - log on.

At logon, the user is then presented with a VM desktop tailored to his or her level of assets and privileges as predetermined by an administrator. As might be guessed, groups are supported as well, as are such predetermined usage templates as kiosks.

Although the Device is dumb as a post, it can remotely service USB devices such as printers, storage, and smartphones, using smarts located in the VM. And, yes, the management software can disable port usage if desired.

Sales of the Device and its back-end System software are on a per-seat basis at $329 for the silver version and $319 for the black - but should you want to outfit, say, 1,000 desktops with the little guy, the Pano people say they'll be more than happy to negotiate. ®

Bootnote

The Reg salutes Pano Logic for its rational product-naming system, which blessedly avoids such silliness as iBac, vRanger Pro, and esXpress.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.