Pano Logic Aims High with Pano System 5

Less that 12 months after Pano Logic released Pano System 4 Pano Logic has announced a major update. Not surprising named Pano System 5, this new release provides incremental updates to the previous offering as well as introducing a significant change to the overall system architecture that should position it well for the future.

The incremental updates are the obvious necessary enhancements to Pano System 4; support for VMware vSphere 5 and View 5 (Pano Logic first introduced Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View integration in Pano System 4), as well as some worthwhile, if not groundbreaking, performance enhancements. More significant is a new modular architecture that supports both ‘vanilla’ Pano System deployments as well as hybrid environments that take advantage of the enterprise-class scalability and flexibility offered by XenDesktop and View and marries it to the high performance Pano Device zero client.  Pano Logic claims that this new architecture will allow it to group as many as 10,000 Pano Devices in a single management domain, although it stresses that this limit is imposed more by the practical limitations of testing than anything else. Central to this increase in scalability is Pano Maestro a “manager of managers’ through which IT admins can view heterogeneous environments comprised of across all brokers and platforms. Although for most practical purposes Maestro is more likely to see service managing multiple separate environments based on View or XenDesktop than it is managing both.

Pano Logic’s approach has always delivered excellent display performance offering a user experience that is difficult to distinguish from local, even with the most demanding of applications. However, it achieves this at the expense of requiring significantly more bandwidth than competing protocols effectively limiting it to single site deployments. Pano Logic has made significant improvements to its remote display performance in this new release improving frame display rate by between 10 and 25% while reducing bandwidth by 30% for typical office applications. Even so this is still above the threshold that analysts contend is desirable for WAN environments.

This increased scalability creates an interesting situation for Pano Logic. So far it has only competed in the SMB market limited by the scalability of its architecture. The new modular architecture and ability to act as a front end to VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop will allow it to compete more directly with established thin client vendors such as Wyse and HP, rather than it being limited to a turn key packed solution provider. It remains to be seen however if this approach will pay off; just because it is possible to use a Pano Device as the access point to XenDesktop and View, it doesn’t mean that it will result in sales. Pano Logic does have one card in its favor that no other vendor can offer.  The Pano Device is the only thin client that looks as good as it performs, something that could help it create a unique niche in an overcrowded market.

The list price of a Pano Device and license remains at $389 which places at the low end of the spectrum of integrated VDI software and thin client, but when considered in conjunction with either View or XenDesktop, it will face price pressure from its less visually appealing competitors.

All things considered, this is a milestone release for Pano Logic, further enhancing its attractiveness in the SMB market where its simplicity has served it well, while giving it the opportunity to breakout into larger enterprise deployments.  It will be interesting to see how well this prices will hold up in Q2/3 2012 when NComputing and others start to ship new thin-clients build around the Citrix HDX-on-a-chip reference architecture.

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