NCD, BreezeCom Tie Wireless and Thin Clients Together

BreezeCom (Carlsbad, Calif., www.BreezeCom.com), a developer of wireless network access products, announced a partnership with thin-client computing vendor Network Computing Devices Inc. (NCD, Mountain View, Calif., www.ncd.com). Under the agreement, BreezeCom will become a participant in NCD's Complementary Solution Provider program. The two companies hope to combine wireless technology with thin client computing to expand the reach of the individual technologies.

"What we are doing is referencing," says Jim Fulton, vice president of product management for NCD. "When we find customers who don't have a wireless solution, we call BreezeCom. When they're out in the field and have someone ask about thin clients, they call us."

"The natural marriage between wireless and thin client is that they're both easy to deploy," says Vanessa Swancott, BreezeCom director of U.S. marketing. BreezeCom and NCD will jointly promote and sell BreezeCom's BreezeNET SA-10 PRO.11 wireless Station Adapters and AP-10 PRO.11 Access Points. These products will be paired with the NCD ThinStar 200 thin client desktop device. The ThinStar 200 provides access to Windows applications residing on Microsoft Windows NT servers. The station adapters and access points provide client-to-host wireless connectivity

To make the system work, a user takes the BreezeCom Station Adapter, a small device with two antennas, and connects it to a client device. BreezeCom also has a wireless PC card that acts as a Station Adapter. The Station Adapter then wirelessly connects to the Access Points, which are the equivalent of a hub that is connected to the Ethernet backbone. Through that infrastructure, the thin client hardware can communicate to a Windows NT server.

Separately, the companies’ markets represent niche pieces of the corporate market, but together, they've built a vertical bridge that they hope will reach out to retail point-of-sale, education, health care, government and corporate markets. Both companies sell their products through two-tier distribution such as Ingram Micro (Santa Ana, Calif., www.ingrammicro.com) and Tech Data (Clearwater, Fla., www.techdata.com).

Virginia Brooks, an analyst with Aberdeen Group (Boston), says there are two major obstacles blocking the progress of wireless networking. Besides it being more expensive, wireless networking only amounts to about one-tenth the bandwidth of wired environments.

But, Brooks points out, that is why partnering with a thin client developer really makes sense. "Because it doesn't require a heavy-duty application piece, [thin client computing] is ideal for wireless because wireless does better when less bandwidth is called for," says Brooks. "This is a very niche solution. It combines two technologies that fit together."