I've featured NComputing a few times in this blog, largely focusing on their solutions that turn a single workstation into as many as 10 workstations using thin client technologies. In particular, I wrote about NComputing's successful bid (beating out Intel and OLPC) to provide thin-client computers to as many as 1.8 million children.
Now things are getting even more interesting at NComputing with their larger-scale network solutions (which I'll be reviewing soon, since the company will be sending me test units shortly) and, perhaps more importantly, a new partnership with Microsoft. While Microsoft already offers both virtualization and thin client support through Terminal Services, NComputing brings extremely low-cost, easy to set up terminals to the mix, as well as software that leverages terminal services.
According to the press release,
Initially, the collaboration with Microsoft is aimed at helping educational institutions take full advantage of multiuser computing on the Windows Server platform. NComputing and Microsoft share a commitment to advance multiuser or shared resource computing to make it easier for teachers and students in libraries, labs and classrooms to gain access to a genuine Windows experience at a lower total cost of ownership.
The agreement should not only simplify licensing for customers, but improve integration with Microsoft's server products. Although NComputing products can work with a "server" running Windows XP, Vista, or (very shortly) Windows 7, Windows Server is obviously much better suited to supporting larger implementations.
Similarly, Microsoft has recently announced development of Windows MultiPoint Server 2010:
NComputing's new USB-connected devices and vSpace software will support the new Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server 2010 (WMS) platform, which was announced last week with availability early next year. By using the new Microsoft WMS with NComputing’s ultra-low cost devices, educational institutions will be able to dramatically reduce their computing costs and expand access to computing.
NComputing also supports OpenSUSE Linux, but for institutions looking to grow their Microsoft infrastructures in very cost-effective ways, this partnership should spell improved functionality and speed, as well as a real alternative to vanilla Terminal Services or TS-based Citrix solutions. In particular, for labs of 30 or less, where an expensive virtualization solution simply isn't justified, NComputing technologies may be just the ticket. Look forward to reviews soon.