Fujitsu, a $47 billion IT solutions provider with 175,000 employees, has teamed up with startup Pano Logic on the "zero client" approach to desktop virtualization. It will build a monitor that contains connectors to the network, the keyboard and mouse. This approach eliminates even the tiny square device that Pano normally sells.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

March 8, 2010

3 Min Read

Fujitsu, a $47 billion IT solutions provider with 175,000 employees, has teamed up with startup Pano Logic on the "zero client" approach to desktop virtualization. It will build a monitor that contains connectors to the network, the keyboard and mouse. This approach eliminates even the tiny square device that Pano normally sells.Pano Logic is a venture capital-backed, Menlo Park, Calif., company that is advocating desktop virtualization with a minimum of hardware. You need less than a thin client and you can forget about the PC, it says, as reported here March 5. As with other virtual desktop schemes, the user's desktop is created and run on a central server. Pano Logic adds an appliance attached to the central server that manages user authentication and authorization and monitors end point devices. Normally, the end point device in a Pano Logic installation is a little, three and-a-half inch square box with network connections and connectors to the mouse, keyboard and USB devices.

In the Pano/Fujitsu partnership, Fujitsu will produce a monitor that contains everything embedded in the monitor stand that used to be contained in the little box. While the monitor will contain connectors, there's still no processor, memory, operating system or device drivers. The so-called zero desktop just got a little closer to zero.

When Pano Logic first came out with its end point device, it charged $300 for it. That's kind of pricey for something with no processor, no memory, etc. The box was covered in chrome, so maybe that was reason it cost as much as a well equipped thin client. Today it charges $1,895 for a five-seat starter kit, which presumably includes the vrtualization software for the server and the Pano Manager appliance device. That still leaves the charge at $379 per end user. Adding end users in any desktop virtualization approach will tend to drive down the price per user. Trying to calculate savings on desktop virtualization is enough to drive engineers back to slide rules. There's the cost of the central server and its software, an identity and access management system, the cost of storage if you store each desktop or the cost of systems to spin up thousands of desktops quickly from master images, if that's your approach. And that's before you get to any of the costs associated with what's going on at the end user's desktop.

Pano Logic is making the case that most of the expenses should be at the central server. Expenses at the end point should be minimized. So far, it's brought forth Fujitsu as an accomplice in that approach. Will other monitor makers join the pursuit of the zero client? Pano spokesmen say stay tuned, they're not at liberty to disclose other manufacturers.

"In light of the advances Pano Logic has made in simplifying desktop virtualization, many of our customers around the world are considering overhauling their IT in order to reduce cost and complexity," said Rajat Kakar, VP Clients Group, Fujitsu Technology Solutions. "By leveraging Pano Logic's technology, we can provide customers with a practical and highly effective Zero Client solution that delivers dramatic savings on roll-out…" he added in the March 2 announcement.

It's those savings that we'd like to see documented at some customer site. And is the end user experience equal to the PC-style computing that employees are accustomed to?

Join us for a virtual event on strengthening IT security's weakest link: the end user. It happens Wednesday, March 24. Find out more and register.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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