Pano Promises Software-less, Virtualized Desktop

The goal of developing easy-to-manage desktop computers and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) has been the cherished dream of several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs for more than a decade. 

Oracle’s Larry Ellison tried and failed in the late 1990s with his network computers (remember the famous NCs?). Ellison’s buddy Scott McNealy of Sun failed to make much headway too. As did many others in Silicon Valley because for all their promise thin clients or network computing devices offered a lot less than desktop computers.

Now comes a start-up called Pano Logic that swears it’s conjured up a new way of making desktops easy to manage for IT managers through the combination of an all hardware, no software device and server virtualization.

Pano also claims its architecture will slash the TCO of desktops by 70%.

The privately held start-up Pano says its palm-sized hardware device will connect keyboard, mouse, display, audio and USB peripherals over an IP network to an instance of Windows Vista or XP running on a virtualized server. The device supposedly does not have a CPU, memory, OS or even drivers. Interesting.

Pano’s architecture also includes its server software running on top of virtualized servers.

The server side of the Pano consists of any x86-based system running standard virtualization software such as VMware ESX or VMware Server.

Server virtualization leads to better utilization of hardware by letting IT managers run multiple operating systems on the server simultaneously.

Since there is no software running on the device, Pano’s architecture is supposed to provide a secure desktop that’s immune to viruses and other malware. The Pano device is said to come with a button that lets end users perform self-help tasks such as rolling back to a good instance of Windows if the current version is corrupted.

Pano is scheduled to debut its widgetry in September. It will offer businesses a choice of subscription or outright purchase. The WSJ reported Monday that Pano is looking to charge $20 per month for its hardware and server software or a one-time fee of $300 per user.

The Menlo Park, California start-up is backed by Com Ventures and Foundation Capital.

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