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Virtually Speaking: Old Concept, New Spin

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Apr 15, 2008


IT pundits have an obsession with dubbing a year with a theme. They especially love being able to sum up what the desktop is about to do. Early this decade, much hoopla was made over The Year of the Linux Desktop. Ready to rethink appliances? Pano Logic puts a new spin on the traditional desktop model, while Kace revvs its Kbox family of systems management and deployment appliances.

Now, all eyes and, in some cases wallets, are on the virtual desktop.

Pano Logic wants enterprises to "rethink the desktop." Presumably, it would like them to envision (and implement) a desktop environment with the Pano Virtual Desktop Solution (VDS) — its combination of client devices and server software. This week, Pano sculpted a new layer onto its vision and released version 2.0.

The new version adds support for wide area network (WAN) deployment, dual monitor capabilities, wireless bridges from D-Link and Linksys, and USB devices. It also builds on Pano Logic's relationship with VMware to deliver fully integrated support for VMware Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM).

For the most part, the virtual desktop —like "thin clients" and "dumb terminals" before it — has focused on the traditional office worker. Like its predecessors, it never quite got the anticipated traction.

Rather than going after this market, Pano is instead focusing on deploying its devices where PCs weren't present before, Michael Fodor, vice president of product management, told ServerWatch. Examples include conference rooms and other office-facilities offices or medical settings.

Version 2.0 will be available on May 5. Pricing starts at $300 for a single Pano Client. A Pilot bundle consisting of five Pano devices, all software and one year of maintenance has been made an option, Fodor said.

Although VDS integrates with and supports VMware VDM, the solution is meant to be hypervisor-agnositc, Fodor said. HyperV and Xen support are both on the roadmap, though he did not elaborate on when.

Ironically, the last time we spoke with Pano, we spoke with Kace Systems Management a few days later. Such was the case this time as well.

Kace, like Pano, sells a solution that is packaged as an appliance. That, however, is where the similarities end, as Kace's offering looks to the entire data center.

Kace unveiled the next version of its Kbox family of systems management and deployment appliances. This release doubles performance to up to 20,000 end nodes on a single appliance, introduces a client-server communications protocol — Kbox Agent Messaging Protocol, and extends Kbox Remote Replication support to multiple remote from a single appliance and console without requiring dedicated hardware at the remote site.

Management solutions are a dime dozen these days, but what Marty Kacin, Kace co-founder and CTO, said sets Kbox apart from its chief competition is that it is "a Swiss Army knife of systems management." While Altiris, LANDesk, and Microsoft SMS are pure software solutions, KBOX is an appliance.

Kbox is also aimed at the midmarket, as opposed to the high-end, where the competition is focused.

Kace said Kbox 2.0 will hit release candidate status in May and will be generally available in June. The new version will support 64-bit Windows and Mac 10.5, as well as extend Kbox Configuration and policy enforcement capabilities to Apple Macintosh, Red Hat and Solaris.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering the virtualization market since 2001.

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