Local startup serves Windows with Linux

Allowing multiple users to seamlessly access Windows desktop and applications remotely without the performance hit associated with thin clients is being put into production by Sydney-based startup NetLeverage.

NetLeverage's CEO Steven Hasani said the ThinPoint appliance allows access to applications from anywhere in the world and is comparable to Microsoft's Terminal Server or Citrix.

"We compare ThinPoint with Microsoft's Terminal Server and Citrix but if you use our software you don't need Terminal Services all together," Hasani said. "We are taking a Windows machine and installing our application on the top of it, and by using our ThinPoint appliance, 40 clients can connect to the same Windows machine and run their Office and banking applications and share it in a concurrent fashion. You don't need to have remote desktop terminal services."

To solve the bandwidth problem associated with running remote RDP sessions, NetLeverage's ThinPoint, which runs Linux, acts as an RDP "proxy" to improve performance.

"We created an RDP proxy server in the ThinPoint which takes RDP in and creates another protocol which is transmitted over the Internet so the user can receive it," he said. "We also added capabilities like concurrent printing."

Hasani claims application performance improvements of three to 10 times over traditional thin clients.

"With ThinPoint, a Windows desktop can be accessed through a Web browser using ActiveX and the applications are cached in an RDP proxy," he said. "We have created inside the Windows environment an abstract file system which sits on top of a hardware abstraction layer and the backend storage can be a shared NAS."

Hasani claims the ThinPoint, which has been in development for two years, to be a world first for network computing.

"In the second generation of ThinPoint we did load balancing, application publishing, shadowing, and seamless Window publishing so you can have an icon sitting on a Mac desktop and run a Windows application within the same environment," he said.

Located in the Australian Technology Park in Sydney, NetLeverage has three Linux-based devices, two for network management.

The NetPoint is an office communication server that takes care of all the communication facilities needed by a small business and wwWebGuard is a Web protection applicance that does content filtering.

NetLeverage has sold about 100 appliances so far, including to schools like St Andrews College in Sydney.

"Our aim is to harness the power of the Internet and broadband and provide SMEs with services and functionality which traditionally was offered to bigger-sized networks in a way managers can have these services at their finger tips," Hasani said. "There is a big uptake of broadband activity but the power is not being unleashed. We need to provide tools to help broadband uptake, not only for searching and browsing the Internet but understanding the power of communicating and making the business easier to manage by the owner."

The company is now working on integrating voice over IP functionality into its appliances.

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