The OLPC project was a grand vision. Making computers accessible to the young generations provides them a portal to information that should go a long way in reducing the knowledge divide. But at $188, the project is still a tad costly on a per child basis. Enter Virtualization. A concept that makes one physical computer system host several virtual systems with resources allocated to them.
California based NComputing is using virtualization to provide an alternative to governments looking to provide affordable computing resources in their learning centers. The software from NComputing turns a PC into a number of virtual PCs which can be accessed by maximum 30 people, each with their dedicated mouse, monitor and keyboard.
An excerpt from PC World:
NComputing’s virtualization software runs on a desktop PC, said Stephen Dukker, chairman and CEO of NComputing. That PC is connected through an access terminal with the “virtual” PCs, which consist of a monitor, keyboard and mice, also known as “thin clients.”
The thin client does not have any storage. All of the computing is done on the main PC. NComputing software works with Microsoft’s Windows and Linux operating systems.
A single PC has more than enough processing power to be shared by several users, Dukker said. A typical person running productivity, multimedia, e-mail and Web browsing applications uses on average just 1 to 2 percent of the capacity of standalone PCs, with occasional peaks using 10 to 20 percent of a computer’s processing power, he added.
While the XO laptop provides a personalized all time available computing resource, it is pertinent question whether laptops are the solution for the same, if at all portable computing is as much a necessity. NComputing’s virtualized solution does provide a better priced alternative to the OLPC.