Pano Logic has announced a virtualised desktop system that contains no software at the client. It claimed that the eponymous device both cuts desktop management costs and improves security.

The company said the Pano is "a purpose-built desktop virtualisation architecture that surpasses today’s desktop PC and so-called thin clients," using a desktop computer with no CPU, memory, operating system, or drivers. Pano said the device reduces desktop TCO by 70 percent or more - equal to US$3,150 annually - and eliminates the desktop as a security risk, because it moves all software off the desktop to the server.

According to the company, the savings accrue because moves, adds and changes for end users can be eliminated or performed centrally, patch management is easier, and investments in shared hardware are shared across more users.

The company claimed that response times are on par with a standard PC and that the Pano consumes five watts per device, compared to standard PCs which use 100W or more.

It also claimed that the Windows-only Pano boosts the productivity of both IT staff and end users by automating service restoration and restoring the desktop 80 percent faster when a reset is required.

The device consists of a chromed cube about 9cm wide, 9cm deep and 5cm high. Powered from a separate power supply, it offers two USB ports, an Ethernet port and sockets for keyboard, VGA and mouse. It connects over the network to a virtual machine running by default either on VMware ESX Server of VMware Server, although Pano's president and CEO Nick Gault said that the underlying virtualisation technology could also be Xen or Microsoft's upcoming Viridian.


The system includes a desktop broker that connects the user to the correct desktop image, using the enterprise's Active Directory for authentication, according to Pano. The virtualised desktop then connects to the RDP stack and sends the display over the network, along with virtualised I/O such as Ethernet and USB. Security is enabled via a series of policies that IT admins can implement to limit the uses of devices such as memory sticks and CDs, reckoned the company.

The device also has a button on the top that can be configured by IT in a number of ways. For instance, it can act as a reset, so that the user can roll back to the VM's previous snapshot, intervals for which can be set by IT staff. Alternatively, it can be used to switch between virtual machines set up for different user roles. According to the company, "the architecture is extensible, allowing the Pano Button to be configured to orchestrate services provided by the underlying server virtualisation platform."

Pano will be available in the US by the end of September 2007, and in the UK in the first quarter of 2008. Prices start at US$20 per month for subscriptions or US$300 for a perpetual licence.

Competition includes ClearCube and IBM, both of whom offer desktop hardware based on virtual machines, although the former is more established in financial rather than general desktops, and the latter has recently launched a high-end, virtualised workstation.