Dell, on the tail-end of a dismal earnings report that failed to meet Wall Street’s expectations, has been busily diversifying its product offerings in the face of flagging PC computer sales. The fruit of one of those diversifications is coming from Dell’s recently purchased WYSE division, a manufacturer known most prominently for their thin-client platforms, in the form of an extremely small thin-client that can be plugged directly into the HDMI port of late-model monitors and TV’s to create a “computer on the go.” Dubbed “Ophelia” this device is just slightly larger than a USB flash (nee thumb) drive, and will run the Android 4.0 OS natively, but can also hook into virtualization platforms from industry standards VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft. Expected to arrive in July for developers and the general public this Fall, Ophelia is expected to cost approximately $100.
What this means for you:
More and more businesses are turning to virtualization and cloud-based resources, one of many factors that is contributing to Dell’s weakening PC sales. The purchase of WYSE was a shrewd move, assuming this trend continues, and we don’t see a rebound like the industry saw in the 80’s with it’s first romance with the client-server model. Unlike the first go-round with client-server technology, today’s thin clients are more than powerful enough for the average knowledge worker’s needs while still being easier and cheaper to maintain than a fleet of standard desktops. The move to ultra-portable seems to be a natural next step, given the modern workforce’s growing acceptance of mobility, and may be a much-needed shot in the arm for Dell.
Should you go out and buy one? At $100, it may add another layer of sophistication to your fancy LCD big-screen in the living room, or add a valuable and extremely portable resource to your traveling business kit. It’s still way too early to tell, but basing it on Android will give the device a solid app eco-system that will hopefully prevent it from being just another addition to the drawer of lost technology toys.
Bromium, a new startup by the same braintrust that founded Xen – a popular virtualization platform now owned by industry giant Citrix – is promising their new product, “vSentry” will return computer users to the heady days of pre-virus computing. The basic idea behind this product is basically a combination of virtualization and hardware/software compartmentalization that creates agents called “microvisors” that act as a disposable “mini-computer” that are fired up to do things like read email, surf the web, play games, etc. and are then discarded completely once you have finished with that task. Conceptually, if, during the course of that task, the microvisor was attacked and infected by malware, the malicious code would end up going nowhere in the end, as the agent was dismissed from use. Think of the microvisor as a pair of impermeable, disposable gloves, tossed into the waste bin after every use, without the landfill aftermath.
What this means for you:
Based upon what I could tell, the product is still in the very early stages, and not yet readily available to the average computer user. It’s nice to imagine an internet where you can open an email from a friend, click a strange attachment and not worry about utterly destroying your computer. Even with the best-in-industry anti-malware software installed on your computer, the weakest link is still the operator at the keyboard. Until this product becomes a reality, and gets installed on every computer, vigilance is still your best defense against the wild internet. Always make sure your anti-malware software is installed, updated and WORKING. Always back up your data, and make sure those back ups are good. And if you are ever in doubt about your computer’s security, give us a call!