Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thin-Client Computing on the Move

Neoware is making it possible to have the security and ease-of-use of thin-client computing on a mobile platform. The recently released m100 looks like any other notebook computer except for a couple things. There is no hard drive and no CD-ROM - just a keyboard and screen, a Windows XPe operating system, and some management utilities. If a road warrior loses the m100 or if it's stolen, the only true loss is the price of the unit. There is no exposure of sensitive data. True, without Ethernet wired or wireless connectivity, the unit isn't useable for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, or anything else that might be possible with a standard notebook computer or tablet PC. But more needs to be said, I think.

I couldn't get over how simple it was to get the unit configured for use - 10 minutes from opening the carton containing the unit, it was ready for use on our corporate network, both wired and wirelessly. After taking the unit home in the evening, it took only a few minutes to configure the WEP key, connect the Windows Media Player to an online jazz station and connect through Remote Desktop to our corporate network.

Security is unparalleled. IT management couldn't be simpler. No viruses to worry about, no worms, no rootkits - no malware period! No moving parts to malfunction. It couldn't be quieter (except when Windows Media Player is running, of course). A VPN client can be installed if necessary, but everything else is ready to go right out of the box. No training required since almost everyone using units like this will already be acquainted with Windows XP.

But should you need to take some notes when no connectivity or VPN access is available, there is still Notepad. If you want to take along some music, photographs, or videos with you while on the road, there is still USB connectivity. If you want to read PDF files (or books, for that matter), Adobe Reader is already installed and ready to go. In my test, for instance, I connected a 1GB memory stick that contained an entire set of IT manager-related documents from Tech Republic in PDF format. No problem! In additionn, while that smart stick was still connected in one of the five, count 'em, five USB ports, I connected my 8GB Seagate pocket drive and accessed JPG and HTML files. I could just as easily have watched a movie or two.

There are audio in and out jacks, a modem port, 6 hours of battery life, a port for an external monitor, 2 stereo speakers, and one PCMCIA type II slot. The modem port is old school, to be sure; it would have been much cooler if bluetooth or infrared ports were available to use along with a Smart Phone or phone-enabled Pocket PC for those rare occasions when you need connectivity but no Ethernet networks are available. But overall, if you don't need always-ready, always-available applications and data, this sweet little unit provides almost all you need while on the road.

In the office, especially offices with wireless connectivity available, it gets even better. You can easily take the unit with you to conference rooms or meeting rooms or a colleague's office, take notes, use all the server-provisioned applications available, work online or anything else that you would do while tethered to the desk in your office.

But most importantly, if you want to make your IT staff happy - and who wouldn't? - consider mobile thin-client computing...please! (This entry, including saving a copy of the photo above, was all done on the m100)


Anonymous said...


What a great blog! This unit is also now available with a Linux OS as well!

Anonymous said...

That is nice. Finally, an answer to the security question. Now we just need adoption. I think that a company worried about HIPAA and SOX compliance is going to find this very useful when used in conjuction with VPN.

Any corporation concerned about loosing valuable proprietary or customer data will find this useful as well.