Pano Logic virtual desktops run without software

Device connects to Windows XP on a remote server

A Silicon Valley startup claims to boost computing security and reduce electric costs with a virtual desktop PC that uses no software or processor.

The Pano device, a small silver cube announced by Pano Logic, a privately held company in Menlo Park, Calif., has no CPU, memory, software drivers, or OS, the company said. Instead, the device connects a user's keyboard, mouse, display and other peripherals connected by USB (Universal Serial Bus) to a version of Microsoft Windows Vista or XP running on a remote server.

By reducing the amount of processing and data storage performed on each user's desktop, the approach is similar to thin-client PCs sold by Hewlett-Packard, Wyse Technology, and Neoware and PC blades sold by ClearCube Technology. Those vendors all say that users can increase IT security by storing crucial data on remote servers and save on PC management costs by allowing administrators to update software on a centralized server instead of multiple machines.

Pano Logic says its approach improves on the model by stripping even the most basic processors and local storage devices from the desktop hardware, relying on a virtualized server running software from VMWare and Pano's server application. Without software, the Pano device is immune to worms and viruses and without a processor it consumes only 5 watts of power, a fraction of the typical PC electric draw, the company said.

Pano Logic is likely to find an audience eager to hear about products that deal with those issues, one analyst said.

"The goal for a lot of companies using products from the virtualization and software-as-a-service sectors is to do more with less, to get greater functionality without burdening the customer and without having so much software to install and maintain," said Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies.

"There's no question that customers are becoming more aware and more willing to adopt these solutions, because they're seeing that products like Salesforce.com can be more secure and more stable than their own in-house applications. So there's a good chance they could be safer and more productive."

Pano Logic could quickly see its market spread beyond traditional thin-client PC users in vertical segments like banking and health care, Kaplan said.

"We're seeing an evolution of the technology; it's been proven to work. And we're seeing an evolution in the way of thinking by customers, as they're willing to try the technology for its benefits in security and cost of management," he said.

Pano Logic will sell the Pano devices beginning in September for subscription prices beginning at $20 per month.

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