Pano Logic Locks Onto Desktops

Startup takes a swipe at the world of desktop virtualization

August 28, 2007

4 Min Read
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XenSource co-founder Nick Gault resurfaced today with another startup, this time attempting to tackle the challenge of desktop virtualization. (See Pano Logic Unveils Virtual Desktop and Insider Eyes Virtual Desktops.)

Pano Logic is Gault's second foray into the world of virtualization and follows the $500 million sale of XenSource to Citrix earlier this month. (See Citrix Bags XenSource for $500M, Xen & the Art of Virtualization, and Desktops' Virtual Dance.)

"Desktop virtualization will be bigger than server virtualization because there's more pain around management of the desktop," says Gault, pointing to the challenges of configuring software and managing patches on multiple desktops. (See Wanted: Virtual Desktop Services.)

In an attempt to resolve this problem, Pano Logic is touting a technology it claims will remove the need to install and manage software on individual desktops.

The Pano device is a small box measuring roughly three inches by three inches, which contains three USB ports for connecting a keyboard, mouse, or thumb-drive. A video graphics array (VGA) port on the box connects to a monitor.An RJ-45 port on the box links the device to an Ethernet connection. "It uses the same network that your traditional PC does," says Mike Fodor, Pano Logic's vice president of product management. "You can unplug a PC from the wall and plug in a Pano device."

The box then uses a standard IP network to access data held on a virtual server. "This is a device that gives you total access over the network - your [desktop] OS runs on the server now, on top of a virtual machine," says Gault, adding that the product will be available next month.

Specifically, the Pano device links up with VMware Server or ESX Server, which Gault says can be useful for organizations looking to manage multiple desktops in remote offices. "We're in beta with about a dozen companies," he explains, although only a couple of these, Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity Bank and Santa Barbara-based service provider Lanspeed, have been made public. (See Storactive Launches Sales Partner Program .)

Affinity Bank is planning to roll the Pano devices out to 75 end-users in its remote offices, according to CIO David Grant. "There's nothing to patch on these devices, there's no firmware to load -- it's something that I haven't seen before," Grant says, explaining that his remote offices typically don't have any IT staff on-site.

At this stage, Pano Logic works only with VMware, although Gault says that the devices could eventually work with Microsoft, XenSource, and Citrix, which is keen to tie server, storage, and desktop virtualization together. (See Citrix Acquires XenSource.) Other than that, the CEO was unwilling to divulge any other roadmap details.The 20-person startup's financial status is similarly shrouded in secrecy, although Gault did confirm that Pano Logic is backed by Foundation Capital and ComVentures.

Pricing for a single Pano device and the software required to run it on an ESX server, is $20 per month, although a perpetual license of around $300 a year is also available.

Compared to the cost of just one PC, Affinity Bank's Grant expects to save between $500 and $750 a year by deploying a Pano device. "That's in removing the need to buy new PCs, and the cost of software and hardware configuration and maintenance," he says.

The exec also rejects the suggestion that desktop virtualization presents a risk in an industry as security-conscious as banking. "Going to a solution like this actually improves my security, because I don't have to worry about PCs and CD-drives," he says. "What if a thief steals a PC and there's a hard-drive [with sensitive data] on it?"

Pano Logic cites its main competition as thin client vendors like Wyse and HP, although Grant feels the vendors are in very different camps. (See Wyse Launches Thin Client, Wyse, Endeavours Extend OEM, and Thin Clients Won't Eat Storage.) "Even with thin clients, you have Windows XP installed and you still have to patch them," he says.Recent months have seen a flurry of activity around desktop virtualization. (See Desktop Virtualization Brokers Emerge, Ericom Releases Virtual Desktop, InovaWave Clears Fresh Funding, and Application Virtualization Takes Hold.) Last month, for example, virtual desktop specialist Desktone clinched $17 million in Series A funding, and users are now urging vendors to flesh out their strategies. (See Top 10 Storage Startups to Watch, Top 10 Startups, and VMware Manages Desktops.)

In the virtual desktop world, Gault sees high-end vendors Teradici and ClearCube as Pano Logic's clearest rivals, although he says his firm targets a different corner of the market. (See ClearCube Announces Partners, Bank Deploys ClearCube PC Blade, and Grows to 60.) "The people that we're trying to sell to are generally small-sized businesses, mid-sized businesses, and departments within large enterprises."

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • ClearCube Technology Inc.

  • ComVentures

  • Desktone Inc.

  • Foundation Capital

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Pano Logic Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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