MENLO PARK, Calif. — Long before PCs, there were computer terminals tied to mainframes. That’s how computing was done. These terminals were called “dumb” because they didn’t have much in the way of internal processing, their main function was to provide access to the almighty mainframe — think old black and white science fiction movies.
Over the years, these terminals, or thin clients as they’re called these days, have gotten “smarter,” sporting more local processing and storage that can make them a cost-effective alternative to PCs, particularly for users who run a limited number of applications.
Enter Pano Logic which wants to return to the good old dumb days — and for good reason. I wrote about the debut of the company’s [innovative Pano cube](/reporters_notebook/article.php/3698556/Five+Hundred+iPhones+One+Paperless+Conference.htm) two years ago. Pano didn’t seem be making much traction, but I was interested to see a year later that it hired John Kish, the former CEO of thin client leader Wyse, to head the company.
During a recent visit to Pano Logic’s headquarters here, Kish held one of the shiny silver Pano cubes in his hand and explained why this new generation of dumb is delightful. (*Photo by David Needle)*
“These are truly stateless devices without anything on them. They’re dumb as sand. There’s no image to download, nothing.”
Okay, maybe Jerry Seinfeld can pitch a show about nothing, but what’s in it for IT?
“What we sell is a virtualization solution,” says Kish. “The hardware is not essential. We’ve knitted the stack, the connection broker and all the drivers to run in the VM (virtual machine).”
**Go ahead, run Windows**
The Pano Device, as the company calls it, is a zero client because it has no CPU, no memory, no operating system, drivers, software or moving parts. It has connections for a keyboard, mouse, VGA display and audio along with other USB peripherals. Standard Ethernet connections to the network and datacenter means the Pano can run a virtualized instance of Windows giving users access to familiar PC applications.