That's the question Pano Logic hopes to answer with Pano System for Cloud, a desktop computing platform for organizations moving to Web-based applications. The system leverages the Google browser as the interface, bypassing the local operating system and central processing unit to enable deployment of a virtual desktop interface (VDI).
Pano System for Cloud builds on the company's zero-client desktop virtualization technology, which has found success in vertical markets such as education, healthcare and government, says Mike Fodor, executive VP of customer success.
"Zero-client computing is a very strict definition," he says. "We see management and complexity of the endpoint is what's really driving total cost of ownership, so we created a true zero client that has no CPU, has no software drivers, no operating system, no firmware." The software required to run Pano System resides on a server.
The Pano platform centralizes all computing activities in the cloud, while end users see a familiar browser interface and use Web-based applications. Fodor notes that other Web-based computing products still require endpoint processing, increasing the overall cost by 50% compared with Pano Zero Client, priced at $149. Pano's new platform also eliminates pricy infrastructure layers such as software licensing, SAN and NAS hardware, and ongoing operations expenses.
Other benefits of Pano System for Cloud include centralized desktop controls for IT managers and improved security by eliminating the endpoint device operating system, often the target of destructive code, and the endpoint device storage, where malicious applications can hide. Fodor also highlighted Google's Chrome browser for its inherent security.
While VDI promises a great deal of cost savings and efficiency for organizations by reducing hardware costs and end-user desktop management, the complexity of implementation is a barrier, says Fodor. With Pano, "you deploy it and forget about it. Complexity is really the thing holding back the adoption of virtual desktops."
Fodor says the company's philosophy centers on independence and freedom, explaining, "It's up to the customer what hypervisor and virtualization platform they want to run." Pano Logic supports VMware, Microsoft and Citrix back ends. "We don't tie anyone into their choice. The endpoint is the same regardless," Fodor adds.
Brett Waldman, senior research analyst, client and server virtualization software at IDC, says Pano Logic's approach offers flexibility, although it isn't unique in that its thin client works with multiple VDI platforms. "But I have not seen hosted Chrome from anyone else."
VDI can be very complex to get up and running, he says. "Once it's up and running and administrators have moved along the learning curve, it does simplify things, but that initial implementation can be very tricky," says Waldman.
Pano System for Cloud using Chome may not be applicable for a broad range of enterprises right now, he said, "but this should be able to get them in the door much quicker."
Karin Kelley, an analyst at 451 Research, says Pano Logic has become popular for those looking to implement VDI because of its zero client, but VDI in general isn't being adopted all that quickly yet. "It isn't being picked up as fast as people thought it would," she says.
VDI has been adopted by specific vertical industry segments, says Kelley, including financial services, which was an early adopter, as well as healthcare and education. The latter, she notes, are repurposing older PCs for VDI due to lack of budget.
"It definitely makes sense for Pano Logic to be adding this Web capability," says Kelley. "HTML5 and Web apps are going to be huge. Competitors are doing the same thing." Citrix Receiver is already working in Chrome, for example.
Kelley says Pano Logic is bullish on both Chrome and Google Apps, and it will be interesting to see how this approach plays out.
Pano System for Cloud can cost as little as $5 per user based on one $999 perpetual server license supporting 200 users, plus any Pano-powered zero client such as the zero-client cube, a repurposed PC or thin client using Pano Virtual Client Software, or the Fujitsu zero client monitor. It's available immediately through Pano Logic's global network of resellers.