Desktop virtualization specialist Pano Logic is shipping the beta version (4.0) of its Pano System, a zero-client device that supports the three major hypervisor platforms (from VMware, Microsoft and now Citrix). The final version (4.1) will be released at the end of January, according to company officials. The company claims its desktop virtualization approach is unique because it is the only vendor to offer a complete solution that includes the client hardware, software, system management and one year of support and maintenance, priced at $389 per unit. Pano Logic also claims that it offers the only desktop virtualization solution available that can support Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere/View interchangeably, as well as interoperate with each platform's management systems.
The client hardware has been enhanced with the new release, featuring four USB ports supporting real-time communications, enhanced video rich media support/performance, dual DVI monitor ports along with VGA monitor support, and 6 watts of power consumption. The software supports VMwareVI3 or vSphere 4.0-4.1, View 4.0 and 4.5, vCenter Server 4.1, Microsoft Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V Server along with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Citrix XenDesktop 4 and NetScaler (optional Citrix Provisioning Server).
There are a number of advantages to Pano Logic's offering, according to John Abbott, chief analyst of The 451 Group. "The overall result should be that notoriously complex virtual desktop installations become simpler and cheaper to implement by eliminating processors, OS, memory, drivers, firmware and software from the endpoint device," he says. Pano Logic officials claim that the total cost of ownership is up to 80 percent cheaper.
On the negative side, Abbott says that power users need not apply, as designing presentations and other CPU-intensive operations are probably best done on a PC with local resources. There's also no support for running desktops powered by servers across the WAN, though that is planned, with the idea that cloud-hosted desktops will be an option in the future. "And despite the support for the three leading hypervisors (which is pretty unusual), there are now open source hypervisor options so far, most notably Xen."
While vendors like Pano Logic and HP continue to trumpet the glories of zero or thin-client computing, sales are not keeping pace with the hype, at least not yet. A new survey from CDW reports that companies are finding that client virtualization is more complex to implement than they realized, that ROI is difficult to calculate, and that training end users can be a challenge. According to IDC, U.S. thin-client sales will double during the next few years, but that will amount to less than 2 million units by 2013.