NComputing starts its account in India

TC-I readers might remember that Vinay had interviewed Stephen Dukker, Chairman & CEO of NComputing a couple of months ago. At that time Dukker was raring to make a mark in the Indian market. Last Monday, NComputing started on its Indian journey by announcing a deal with Government of Andhra Pradesh to supply 50,000 virtual desktops to schools in the state. The company is also trying to enter into agreements with other state governments.

NComputing works on the premise that current desktop computers are powerful enough to support multiple users simultaneously. To achieve this, it has developed a virtualization software that turns a single computer system into 5 or 10 virtual machines, thus ensuring “efficient” utilization of a system. This brings down the effective cost of a “computer per user”.

It is heartening to see governments realizing the need and advantages of using computers as part of school education. We, at TC-I feel (and we are sure readers would agree with us), that sourcing the computers is only a job well-started. The real work lies in developing a proper curriculum centered around computer based learning. Also, NComputing technology can be used for low cost cyber cafes – something really required in developing countries especially rural areas which have abysmal levels of computer penetration.

It would be great to see a project like ITC’s e-chaupal working with NComputing to take benefits of the computer and internet to many more Indian villages.

NComputing’s acceptance by many organizations also brings forth an inevitable but interesting debate – comparison with One Laptop Per Child’s XO, Intel’s Classmate PC and other similar projects. A few months ago OLPC too had entered India. There are lot of discussions on cyberspace on the pros and cons of one in comparison with the other. You can read an informative article on the debate on

These really are exciting times.

[TC-I Changemaker]: NComputing makes $70 PC for the Poor

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

Last week, Vinay sat down (via webcast) with Stephen Dukker, Chairman & CEO of NComputing , a company that has developed a low-cost, robust virtual pc platform that enables numerous workstations to be run on a single desktop machine. While the company originally intended to
take corporate visualization products like VMWare head on, Dukker and the rest of the management team recognized early that their inexpensive architecture would be ideal for the developing world as well. Predicted by
some to be the next Google, the company has positioned itself to explode in India. Dukker took the time to speak with TC-I about the unique features of NComputing’s platform.

Editor’s update: At the writing of this interview, NComputing had just hired Raj Choudhury, formerly at BEA India, as Country Manager for India. Full story can be read here.

Vinay Ganti: Thank you Stephen for taking the time to speak with me and the TC-I community today. Let’s start out at the beginning, what exactly has NComputing set out to do?

Stephen Dukker: To break it down to its simplest point, we are offering the world a $70 PC. We have developed a means for profitably providing a computing workstation for $70 each that includes all of the necessary virtualization hardware and software – a price point we believe will finally make access to computers a reality throughout the globe.

VG: Wow, $70 for a PC seems rather incredible, especially given how much attention the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has gotten for reaching the $100 price point (NOTE: that was their goal, they are selling for $177 FOC China). How exactly does NComputing manage to provide a PC for only $70?

SD: NComputing effectively leverages the continuing trend of increasing processing power of the everyday desktop computer. A typical $700 desktop found in a home has effectively become as powerful as a mainframe. With 3Ghz of power and multiple gigs of ram, these computers usually utilize less than 1% of their processing capabilities. In essence, many desktops waste their capacity and as a result waste energy.

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One virtual desktop per child?

A startup from France has embarked on developing a way for individuals to have their own private virtual desktop regardless of where they are located as a means to provide increased access to the benefits of computing technologies to those who cannot afford it. The company’s mission is similar to that of the One Laptop Per Child initiative but with a different spin on things (from Social ROI).

Whether in an Internet café or village kiosk, a PC equipped with Jooce software gives each person who logs in a customized environment—complete with programs, preferences, bookmarks, buddy lists, and so forth. That way, even though many people may use the machine each day, it feels “personal” to each one. Jooce also lets subscribers securely store an unlimited number of documents, photos, videos, and other data—as well as gives them the ability to share those files easily with other Jooce users.

Such an approach could actually gain traction in India in both the urban and rural landscape, specifically since the use of village kiosks have begun to gain popularity. As the capabilities of programs like eChoupal grow, integration of such software may become an industry standard. Such a community/shared computer approach has many other benefits — both tangible (reduced energy demand) and intangible (promotion of social interaction at the Jooce centers).