Tech Innovators: How A Tiny IGEL Thin-Client Device Saved $6.5M For One Customer

Long-time solution provider Jed Ayres is now over one year into his tenure as the CEO of IGEL North America. He spoke with CRN about the opportunity in edge computing and how the company's UD Pocket micro thin-client device is helping solution providers capitalize on it. CRN Monday named the UD Pocket the winner of the2017 CRN Tech Innovators Awardin the PC – Workstations/Desktops/All-in-Ones category.

"There's a revolution going on with the number of devices on the edge, in terms of just people starting to connect more things to the internet, and so there's a renewed interest in edge computing. Everybody's looking at it and realizing that there's a lot of compute horsepower that's going to happen at the edge," Ayres said. "There are discussions of somewhere between 20 billion and 50 billion devices being connected to the internet by 2020, so there's a big interest in terms of looking at what's happening at the edge."

Ayres encouraged solution providers not familiar with Bremen, Germany-based IGEL to take a closer look at the investments the company is making in the U.S., where its business is growing at almost 1,000 percent.

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"We're 100 percent channel-led, we never sell direct, and we've built a great program which in its first year won a CRN [Partner Program Guide] 5-Star Award," Ayres said, noting that partners with skill sets around Citrix and VMware are often a good match for IGEL. "There are 20 platinum partners in the U.S. right now that are really enjoying the benefits of the technology we're bringing to market."

With the thumbnail-sized UD Pocket, solution providers can help extend the life of aging equipment.

"It's a hardened USB stick that you can put into any x86 device, a Mac, a tablet, an older PC, even our competitors' thin clients, and then you can boot to that with our operating system, and it becomes a secure manageable endpoint," Ayres said. "So that brings a lot of new use cases into play. And especially with this, you don't have to destroy the underlying operating system, you get a hybrid environment. People can work on their home machine, they can work as a contractor. It just opens up a whole lot of new use cases."

IGEL's first UD Pocket sale represented a major win for one of its solution provider partners, Ayres said.

"The first customer we sold this to was an insurance paying company out of St. Louis, and they bought 10,000 [UD Pockets]," Ayres said. "The solution provider actually went in and [saw] they had 10,000 old Dell Wyse devices that wouldn't run Skype For Business, and so they were actually about to spend $8 million replacing all of those devices."

Instead the solution provider deployed 10,000 UD Pockets with the old devices -- enabling the customer's CEO to use Skype For Business to deliver a weekly broadcast -- representing $6.5 million in savings for the customer, Ayres said. The solution provider instead was able to funnel that budget toward Citrix licenses and other infrastructure the customer badly needed, he said.