Look out Pano, Sun, Ncomputing! Wyse Project Badger is their entry into the "zero client" space.

Details are starting to emerge about something called Wyse Project "Badger," a software solution that will challenge the so-called "zero" clients like those from Pano Logic, Sun, and Ncomputing. Badger (which should come out of beta any day now) is essentially a new version of ThinOS.

Details are starting to emerge about something called Wyse Project "Badger," a software solution that will challenge the so-called "zero" clients like those from Pano Logic, Sun, and Ncomputing. Badger (which should come out of beta any day now) is essentially a new version of ThinOS. And although it will probably have a new name when it's released, it will be fully backwards compatible.

The big change from ThinOS to Badger is that Badger only has a 3.5mb footprint and it does not require any local storage on a client device. In other words, the client device does a network boot, downloads the 3.5mb OS image, and the user is up and running. Wyse claims boot times of under 3 seconds (even when downloading the image from the network).

What's most amazing about badger is that in addition to its small size, it also has all the Wyse TCX and VDA components built-in and it has full HDX support. (In fact people are suggesting that this HDX implementation is the best one outside of Citrix's own HDX client for the Win32 platform.) This Badger release will also have an RDP 6.x client, with RDP 7 coming soon.

But is Badger "technically" a zero client?

A Wyse employee explained the "badger" name came from their belief that Badger will "tear zero clients apart." But is Badger really a zero client? Not if you ask Pano Logic. Pano points out that their own devices have no local processors and no local firmware or storage whatsoever. They further explain that they're doing bus-level remoting, not graphical remoting, and that from an architectural standpoint, a Pano device is like a super-long video and USB cable that's been translated to TCP/IP.

Pano certainly has a point. From an architectural standpoint, Wyse's Badger is more similar to a Sun Ray where you have the client with no storage that does a network boot to receive its software load. It's just that in the case of Wyse, it comes down really fast and there's no resident trace of anything when the device is powered off.

So if we give Pano the benefit of the doubt and say that Wyse is not a true zero client, does that even matter? If it looks like zero and feels like zero and doesn't require any management of the client device, who cares what's technically happening on the back end? (This is a fun conversation to have with the Pano and Wyse. After asking whether it matters, you'll hear Pano saying, "Well Wyse has firmware you have to update on clients from time-to-time. Who wants to take the time to do that? That's just one more thing to manage!" Then Wyse will say, "ok, well, you don't *have* to update the firmware if you don't want too. You could pretend it's a Pano and just buy a new device when you want to change a capability." Then Pano will say, "Yeah but you can't use a firmware update to change hardware capabilities, and as long as you don't need to change hardware, you will never have to update a Pano." And so on...)

Zero client or not, Wyse Badger means that you can finally control all your thin clients from one place without having to update or push anything to them. (Configuring Badger can be as simple as editing an INI file on a server, although you can also use something like WDM if you're into that sort of thing.

Customer impact

Wyse Badger will probably be most appreciated by current customers, where the ThinOS platform represents almost 50% of all shipments of Wyse devices now. And while the previous ThinOS build required some kind of local device storage (since thin clients locally booted from it), configuring all your existing ThinOS clients to do a netboot for their Badger image might be the last client-based configuration option you ever push out.

So what does this mean for the current zero client vendors? It depends. Pano's real value is as much about their general use-of-use and complete solution as it is their physical client architecture. Ncomputing's focus on education and emerging markets probably means Badger won't affect them. Really the biggest loser is probably Sun (well, I guess its officially "Oracle" as of yesterday) with their Sun Rays. The whole "zero configuration" was always a big selling point for them, but their stuff was expensive and complex and kind of scary to Windows admins--so now that Wyse is out there with a similar message, Sun will have to work that much harder.

We'll have to wait another week or so to learn the true impact of Badger. In the meantime, does anyone have hands on experience with it that they'd care to share? What do you think about Badger in general? Do you prefer to netboot your clients versus letting them boot locally? (I should point out that you don't have to use Badger in the zero-client netboot way. If your client has local storage, you can still install Badger there and get the TCX/VDA/HDX/RDP6 benefits.

 

 

 

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The problem once again, it’s lock into custom hardware, you loose the flexibility of running stuff locally on cheap commodity hardware. Splashtop is far more exciting in terms of forward thinking. Thin Clients are a niche idea, with most of the value for people who have to defend a bad decision they made in the past.


I haven’t used badger, but will be interesting to learn how well it works over a WAN, network performance, protocol used and impact if any to firewalls, existing PXE protocols, infrastructure required if any. It would be also interesting what their HDX claim really is. Have they upgraded the Receiver/Client from the ancient one they have used in the past? What’s the big deal claim here?


Interestingly, I see no mention of PCoIP. Was that an oversight? How will they support Callista? WRT to Pano. Bus remoting is a Lan based solution. To use WAN they require a double hop via RDP.


Certainly get why WYSE would do this, but as a real world solution for desktop virtualization very niche unless you have a very simple environment, in which case you can get a good price regardless with other commodity devices. But the blind will continue to follow hype.


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Appd, long time no see. Good you're back


I really shouldn't comment on this topic, being 12 years or so against thin client devices for their lack of flexibility, lock-in and all kinds of hardship.


Now, to step down, I do acknowledge that there's plenty of other opinions, and while listening, I do see use cases for these devices. IMHO these are rather niche scenarious and by no mean justifiy what we're seeing in implementation nor in the stated cause. But hey! That's just me. Disagree, but agree to disagree.


Something of an agony for my stated position is the concept of VDI. In very large ways it goes totally opposite for what I believe, more so as a lock-in, freedom and flexibility depriving than anything else, As with SBC, I can live with published applications, I can live with connection to VDI, not lock-in. I guess, as with SBC, reverse seamless, and perhaps client hypervisors will bring something of an acceptable compromise


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If I understand this article correctly, you netboot ANY device or just existing Wyse devices?  If it's any device...ie, old PC's with the hard disks removed this is a big win for Wyse, because you can significantly extend the lifecycle of PC's by turning them into Wyse thinclients.  If it's just existing Wise S/V10's then it's somewhat pointless IMO


I've looked at 2X for PXE boot PC's to thinclients but was never all that pleased with the results.  This could be big for thin computing...bigger then the iPad! :-)


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@Tony


No bad, please accept my comments as is.


Are you serious? Please explain the benefits of re-using old PCs. You also mentioned 2x. Isn't it true that you're in a very economically challenged reakity? This does not make any sense otherwise.


How do you reason out of your point of view?


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@Brian .. Is this a software solution that will run on any PC or only wyse specific thin clients. It seems by this statement were talking about any PC. "Badger only has a 3.5mb footprint and it does not require any local storage on a client device."


IMO and I'm curious of everyone's feedback. NComputing makes for a great thinclient solution. You use one host PC ($600 or so) and it will run up to 10 zero config clients. NComputing is more of a SBC model vs something like panologic which requires Vmware on your back end and isn't localized. If your using the Citrix client and all of your processing is on the server side I think this makes for a stellar solution. Why waste 400.00 on a thin client... ? the small licensing cost for NComputing and MS TS cal's still would be way less then a thin client.  Thoughts?


One of the major benefits of thinclient's or zero config client's is power consumption. Sure utilizing your existing investment is important but your doing nothing for power consumption I'm talking about enterprises with 1000+ PC's that's where you really start to see some huge saving's.


I look forward to hearing more about this thinOS. Is power management built into these types of thin OS's? IMO If your required to use your exisiting hardware and this Badger OS also provides effective Power management when the machine is not in use, your at least still providing some savings on power consumption.


Shane


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@kimmo


It's quite simple really...why spend $400 on a thin-client as opposed to reusing something I already own that's been fully depreciated and still works.  Recycling existing PCs also increases the ROI on VDI and TS compared to traditional PC based computing.  To me thin clients are a wash when they cost just as much as a PC and you still have to sink capital expenditure into the backend infrastructure (servers, hypervisors, licenses, etc)  for VDI.  When the PC finally dies, then swap it with a thin-client.


Unless you work for the US government, what organization isn't financially challenged these days?


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An important thing to include in your ROI calculations is VECD, which comes in two different flavors:


VECD for SA - if you own a Windows Client OS for the client device and it's enrolled in SA - list price is $23 per year, per device if doing VDI connecting to Windows Client OS Desktops (XP, Vista or Win7).  This $23 per device yearly "subscription" entitles one to use the local Windows OS, plus up to 4 hosted Windows Client OS running on a server.  If you do not renew SA or VECD, you can no longer "legally" use VDI, but you still own the Windows Client OS.


VECD for Devices - if you own a Windows Client OS for the client device and it's NOT enrolled in SA, or the device does NOT run an OS that can be enrolled in SA - list price is $110 per year, per device if doing VDI connecting to Windows Client OS Desktops  (XP, Vista or Win7).  With this option one does not own the hosted Windows client OS at all, but is leasing it on a year to year basis.


I have some customers using the SA option with Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (FLP) with is a slimmed down modular version of XP SP3 that is available for download by SA customers.  They configure this as the local client OS so they have a supported client OS and a full Windows driver stack.


I don't dislike thin clients, but think customers need to know the whole story before making a strategic investment in these devices.


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NComputing customers who have deployed tens of thousands of NComputing "zero clients" have clearly recognized the value of not having to manage devices. Firmware that updates itself with no manual intervention saves administrators from swapping out devices. Most administrators don't even realize it happens. Whether you are a Pano device, Sun Ray, or "Badger" box, there is no such thing as firmware without bugs. But what’s really driving this segment are virtual desktops that allow companies to save money today. Large investments in infrastructure to perhaps save money in the future is a tough sell in this economy.


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@ appd and kimmo


Why use cheap commodity hardware everywhere instead of just for the exceptions? What kind of flexibility do you need that would make a thin client the exception?


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This announcement from Wyse reminds me of the attack on the French castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  After failing with the Trojan Rabbit (or in this case, dumbed down PCs with local operating systems, driver stacks, etc), Sir Bedevere looks to King Arthur and states “Look, if we were to build a large wooden badger..” before having the Trojan Rabbit thrown over the parapet at the Knights of the Roundtable.  How exactly is this Wyse Trojan Badger different from the Wyse Trojan Rabbit?  You still need a “computer” at the end point and this does nothing to affect the overall economic picture that end users demand with their next generation desktop: cap-ex commoditization and reduction through a zero client/endpoint and op-ex reduction through power savings, reduced IT management, and ease of deployment.  Sure, it might be a nice stop gap measure to repurpose aging PCs, but that’s like covering a gaping chest wound with a band-aid.


This is all in a quest to deliver what Pano Logic (a 43 person start-up) can now – desktop technology built specifically for a virtualized environment that is extremely easy to use, contains no Rube Goldberg retrofits(or profits for that matter) and completely centralizes all compute cycles.  Zero client should NOT be something that comes from marketing, it’s a design decision made by Engineering.  


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New announcment from NComputing this morning that would seem to be a problem for both Wyse and Pano. If NC can deliver a true zero client that works with Citrix and VMWare VIEW,  Android, etc over the WAN , POIP level of performance for $20, etc:


deals.venturebeat.com/.../ncomputings-numo-chip-could-drive-desktop-computer-costs-to-zero


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Any updates on project badger? Brian I have unable to source anything re this from WYSE.


I have contacted WYSE re this and the reply was 'its something I'm not aware of so unfortunately can't comment.'


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I am based in Africa and the only thing we know is Ncomputing. I am just wondering why Pano logic, Wyse and others in the thin client space have not come to the continent? Do you they still see it as a dark continent? I am just wondering allowed.


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