Zero Client Vendors

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Virtualization has changed the cost structure of the data center, and now it can change the cost center of managing a fleet of end-user clients. Here’s a look at the promise of zero client technologies, a list of the players, and how they can make a difference for IT organizations.

Pano Logic
For example, Pano Logic offers a small hardware device that works with VMWare’s ESX Server hypervisor, where a virtual PC is created in the data center
and delivered over an IP connection to the Pano device, which handles transferring all I/O between the desktop peripherals and the hypervisor based PC.

Digi approaches the zero client environment with their PCoIP (PC over IP) based ConnectPort Display technology. With ConnectPort, a dedicated PC or blade is located in the datacenter and functions as the remote PC, all I/O is converted into an IP carried protocol which the ConnectPort Port Display device delivers to the user’s monitor, while all peripheral activity is passed back to the datacenter.

Wyse combines multiple technologies to deliver a zero client solution. The company offers their WSM appliance (or WSM provisioning software), which runs in the datacenter to deliver PC desktops out to the company’s zero client devices. WSM can be combined with virtualization to build out a VDI solution.
Teradici approach has its roots in PCoIP technology.

The earliest Teradici zero client solutions involved placing a PCI card into a host PC, which then redirected all I/O over IP to a piece of zero client hardware located at the desktop. The company has recently partnered with VMware to create a virtualized version of the host PC, which changes the zero client relationship from one user mapped to one physical PC to a one (virtualized PCs on server) to many relationship.


N-Computing combines the traditional zero client device with VDI in the form of their L300 solution. A small device sits at the user’s desk, which replaces the PC. That device uses IP to connect back to the datacenter, where a server is running N-Computing’s vSpace virtualization software provides the virtual desktop. The L300 can be further integrated with VMware or Citrix technologies to incorporate advance monitoring and management technologies.

The impact on the channel

Although Zero client technology is still in its infancy, it will have a growing impact on the enterprise, especially when one considers the savings of scale. As zero clients replace desktop PCs, operational, management and services costs will also decrease. The key for solution providers is to be ready for the transition and be able to step in when businesses seek to pilot zero client solutions. Solution providers will be able to provide hardware, software and most importantly, the services to make the pilot a success, which in turn build a customer relationship where the solution provider can offer a range of services and solutions. Those services and solutions include business continuity, disaster recovery, security, remote management and many more.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com