April 10, 2009
Tired of managing desktops? Pano Logic's desktop virtualization approach may be for you. The company replaces high-powered desktop PCs with the Pano Device, a small silver cube that has no memory, CPU, or operating system. Instead, a user plugs a USB-based keyboard, monitor, and mouse into the device, which connects to a virtual machine in a data center. This VM runs the operating system and apps the user requires.
--Andrew Conry-Murray PANO LOGIC
HEADQUARTERS: Menlo Park, Calif
PRODUCT: Pano Device
PRINCIPALS: Aly Orady, co-founder and CTO; Nils Bunger, co-founder and VP of engineering; John Kish, president and CEO
INVESTORS: Goldman Sachs, Foundation Capital
EARLY CUSTOMERS: BroMenn Healthcare, SanDisk
BACKGROUND: Orady and Bunger worked together at a previous startup, Kealia, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems. Both hold master's degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Kish formerly led thin-client vendor Wyse Technology.
Pano Logic aims to help customers cut desktop hassles and costs through virtualization. For instance, if an application gets buggy or a user downloads malware onto a machine, IT typically has to dispatch an administrator to diagnose and fix the problem. With virtualization, the admin simply kills the existing VM and spins up a new one. On the power front, Pano Logic says its device consumes around 3 watts, which is significantly lower than a typical desktop computer, which can reach well over 100 watts depending on the hardware and usage. A Pano Device costs around $300. How It Works The Pano Device connects over a corporate LAN to a virtualized instance of Windows XP running on VMware's ESX and Server software. Because the device has no processor, memory, or operating system, it essentially acts like a green screen, displaying the apps on the monitor and sending keystrokes back to the VM. All data and files are stored either in the VM or on a separate file system connected to the data center.
Pano Manager software discovers when a Pano Device connects to the network, presents a login screen to users, and connects them to the appropriate VMs. The software integrates with Active Directory for user account management. The company says a typical server can support 30 to 50 VMs.
Pano Desktop Service, a Windows service, runs inside each VM. The service mediates between the Windows drivers in the operating system and the USB ports on the Pano Device. In addition to monitor, mouse, and keyboard, the Pano Device supports USB-based printers, flash drives, and other peripherals.
Pano Logic is targeting organizations such as hospitals, call centers, and educational institutions, which appreciate centralized control and may prefer that sensitive data doesn't get stored to local devices.
The company competes against Sun Microsystems and its Sun Ray thin client, which carries a similar price point and a strong brand.
Wyse is another major player in the thin client market. Pano Logic also will be competing with other desktop virtualization approaches.
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