Pano Logic looks to overcome RDP limitations

Pano Logic Inc. on Monday said an update to its virtual desktop software would offer both a better audio/video experience for users and simplified help desk management for IT departments.

The release, Pano Desktop Virtual Solution (VDS) 2.5, is designed to allow companies the ability to take the virtualization technology that allows more than one “instance” of a server to run on a single machine and apply it to individual PCs. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Pano Logic is best known for its silver box-shaped device that links to a virtualized server and connects a keyboard, mouse, display and peripherals over an IP network. Pano Logic has a regional office in Toronto.

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Earlier versions of Pano VDS relied on Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as the API into Windows environments. RDP had certain advantages because it offered some easy integration, said Pano Logic vice-president of product management Mike Fodor, but it had some technical limitations that prevented the company from offering the highest-possible quality user experience. Pano VDS 2.5, on the other hand, will get around Microsoft Terminal Services through a feature called Console Direct and offer native session support for Windows apps, video, audio and native USB drivers.

“Some of RDP’s limitations were that it exposes video information in an incoherent manner,” Fodor said. “In some cases you’ll get information from one video frame mixed in another video frame. There’ll be a rip or a tear as the motion moves rapidly. Nobody likes to see those factors in their video.”

RDP could also ends up buffering the audio by three or four seconds. “If you’re watching Barack Obama, his lips start to move and three seconds later hear what’s he’s saying. Nobody appreciates that.” This was especially an issue for business customers that wanted to use virtual desktops for video training purposes, he added.

More importantly for IT managers, help desk staff can now have access to the Pano Manager console in Pano VDS 2.5. This will allow them to see who’s logged in, via what Pano Device and to what virtual machine, which is helpful in supporting employees, Fodor said. “They can do no harm, because they can’t change settings,” he said.

Chris Wolf, an analyst with the Burton Group in Midvale, Utah, said Pano Logic has made some traction since it launched about two years ago, but it faces major competition within the large enterprise segment from the likes of Wyse and HP, which acquired NeoWare last year.

“They’ve done pretty well in the SMB space. It’s a pretty good offering price-wise,” he said. “The interface is very use to use. I would still put them in that scrappy up-and-comer category.”

Fodor said the company’s primary focus is more in the mid-market, among firms with less than 1,000 desktops that are looking for a replacement to their PC fleet. Health care has been a popular vertical, he said. Pano Logic is also not trying to go head-to-head with VMware.

“We really position ourselves as a complement to VMware,” he said. “Our product leverages ESX, takes that (server) infrastructure and turns it into a virtual desktop solution.”

Although virtualization has been a huge driver of IT spending, Wolf said Pano Logic may have to wait a bit longer to see major adoption.

“This space isn’t really starting to get interesting until 2009 anyway,” he said. “The clients we’re talking to are just heading down the path to VDI architecture. They’re waiting to see what ESX 4 from VMware looks like and to compare it to Citrix offerings.”

Pano VDS 2.5 will cost US$300 for a single Pano desktop.

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