NComputing M300 Package Streamlines Thin-Client Deployments

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-04-19 Print this article Print

NComputing turns one PC into the networked host for three thin clients with the M300 3-in-1 client kit without the hassles normally associated with a VDI deployment. A single networked PC host could handle up to 60 thin clients, albeit with a noticeable reduction in responsiveness.

Ncomputing is now offering a new take on the thin-client paradigm with its M300 3-in-1 Thin Client Kit for Virtual Desktops. The M300 was announced Feb. 23 and started shipping in late March. With a street price of around $400, Ncomputing is claiming that the M300 kit is less than a third of the cost of other VDI systems.

That claim is attributed to the fact that the M300 kit offers the capability to turn a single host PC into the network host for multiple thin clients and offers virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment and management capabilities, as well as the benefits of host-based computing. In other words, Ncomputing is taking a hybrid approach to offering a thin client on the desktop.

Simply put, the M300 uses Ethernet as a delivery mechanism to transmit virtual machines to endpoints, similar in concept to what VDI does. However, unlike most VDI solutions, Ncomputing does not require a complete, dedicated infrastructure to be in place for a virtual machine to work. For the most part, the M300 works with existing infrastructures and leverages standard PCs to work as network hosts for the virtual machines, taking a page from the world of host-based computing.

While NComputing€™s M300 (and related M-series products) may not be revolutionary, the technology does effectively tackle many of the pain points that IT pros have had to deal with in the past when pushing VDI or thin-client solutions. For example, the M300 does not require a complex, dedicated infrastructure to operate; also, everything needed to deploy thin clients is included with the product.

Typically with VDI deployments, multiple products from multiple vendors are needed to build a complete system. Ncomputing eliminates the need to purchase additional hypervisors, connection brokers, display protocol accelerators and so on. Ncomputing€™s single-vendor approach makes deployment, management and operation much simpler than other VDI or thin-client solutions. What€™s more, no additional licenses are needed to run Ncomputing's thin clients, helping to keep costs down and eliminating another management hassle.

The cornerstone piece of the M-series is the M300 thin client, a small piece of hardware that is responsible for replacing the traditional desktop PC. In brief, the M300 thin client is a small device that sports a VGA connection, Ethernet connection, USB connections, audio connections and so forth.

In short, the M300 thin client eliminates the desktop PC (or more correctly, the CPU) and offers a methodology to plug in a monitor, keyboard, mouse and other devices directly into the network€”hence, a true thin client.

Of course, there is more to the M300 than a thin client. The M300 is the designation for a 3-in-1 Thin Client Kit for Virtual Desktops. In other words, the M300 kit includes three thin-client devices, NComputing€™s vSpace Server desktop virtualization software, as well as remote management software, and a few other bits and pieces. What€™s more, the M300 thin client offers more than just typical PC component support, it offers USB 2.0, as well as that ability to handle multimedia, as well as video chats, voice over IP calls and so on. In short, it offers the power of a desktop PC without the costs or hassles.

Ncomputing is not the only player in the thin-client space; others, such as Pano Logic, Wyse and HP, ship some form of a thin client. However, Ncomputing takes a different tack and combines everything needed into a single SKU for three thin-client devices. Another major difference between Ncomputing and the competition is in the ease of deployment, which is enhanced by Ncomputing€™s single-vendor approach and wizard-driven installation.

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

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