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Thin Client

Products Listed in DGS&D
Thin client technology helps enterprises build a manageable,
secure, flexible and scalable IT infrastructure.
Think Thin: Benefits of Thin Clients

CIOs around the world have similar concerns when it comes to building their IT infrastructures:

     How to make the IT infrastructure more secure?
     How to ensure that users have access to data and applications when and wherever they need them?
     How to reduce the cost of support?
     How to manage the IT infrastructure efficiently?
     How to ensure the infrastructure is easily scaleable in order to meet growing business demands?

Many enterprises are trapped in a PC-centric network environment that is difficult to manage, expensive to maintain and hard to scale. The answer to all these concerns is a server-based thin client computing environment. But before we look at how thin client computing can transform your enterprise’s IT infrastructure, let us tackle the question of what exactly are thin clients.

What are thin clients?

At their most basic, thin clients are solid-state, diskless devices that are connected to a centralised server through some access software or a browser.

To understand a thin client environment, it is important to understand an underlying concept that makes thin clients such a compelling value proposition.

In a thin client environment, information processing is separated from information access.

Information is processed by the server and accessed by users through a thin client device. All applications run on the centralised server, while user devices have only as much computing resources as required to access the server. In a client-centric PC-based (or fat client) environment, applications reside in each individual PC and information is processed locally.

When you consider this, some of the gains of thin client computing become immediately apparent.

     Smaller footprint: Without hard disks, fans, floppy and CD drives, thin clients are typically much smaller and lighter than PCs. This provides the obvious advantage of reducing workspace as well as increasing mobility and portability.

     Cost: Thin clients are substantially cheaper than PCs, with typical cost savings of between $250 and $500 per unit.

     Durability: Thin clients use solid state construction, which means fewer moving parts, translating into a longer life for thin client devices (almost double that of PCs).

     Running costs: The lack of local processing power means a substantial saving on power costs. A company which replaces 300 PCs with thin clients could save an estimated $11,694 in electricity alone. A definite plus on any environmental audit.

     Theft Resistant: As they are useless unless connected to a server, thin clients are less likely to be stolen from offices. Many organisations enjoy lower insurance premiums as a result of thin client deployment.
But these benefits are just tips of the iceberg. Let us now look at thin clients within an enterprise environment.

Your enterprise and thin clients

Companies worldwide spend nearly 60 to 80 per cent of their IT budgets on support. The biggest challenge for CTOs and CIOs is to bring this down substantially without affecting security and reliability of systems and productivity of users.

That’s not an easy thing to do. A modern-day enterprise’s IT infrastructure is used by hundreds of users across different locations. In a client-centric PC-based computing environment, the challenges are many.

     PCs are prone to viruses and other malicious software. Every PC on your network is, therefore, a potential security risk.

     Users can store sensitive information on their hard disks, exposing you to privacy issues and litigation

     Desktops become obsolete in two to three years and your enterprise is caught in an expensive cycle of repairs and upgrades

     Ensuring that all PCs across the network are running licensed, updated and compatible software is a support nightmare. It becomes even more challenging if your IT infrastructure is large and widely spread.
In contrast, a thin client infrastructure is more secure, simpler to administer and substantially cheaper to maintain.

The Thin Advantage
     Greater security: Thin client devices have no local storage and are, therefore, less open to virus attacks. All data is stored on servers and users have no way of keeping data on their devices. This protects your organisation from unauthorised access of sensitive information and privacy-related litigation. This is particularly true of remote workers who are often the “weak point” of any IT security.

     Easy to administer: In a network-centric infrastructure, all enterprise applications and software are delivered through the server. This dramatically simplifies administration of the infrastructure because your IT support staff can focus on a few servers instead of hundreds of individual PCs. Any updates or changes to security software or application software on the server will get immediately reflected across the thin client enterprise.

     Low cost of maintenance: Thin clients are solid-state devices and have no mechanical moving parts. So, they don’t break down as frequently as PCs. Studies have found that companies could pare IT budgets by anywhere between 20% and 70% by deploying thin clients instead of PCs. In addition, organisations can reduce IT support staff by as much as 50%. Thin clients are also more durable than PCs, and last longer.

     Easy to scale: Adding a thin device to a server-based infrastructure is as simple as plugging a cable into a socket because there are no configuration or software installation issues. A well-configured server-based infrastructure can support tens of thousands of thin client devices. Enterprises can, therefore, scale their IT infrastructure quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

     Better productivity: Server-based thin devices not only provide your workforce with seamless access anytime, anywhere, they make for a more productive workforce.
     Thin devices boot up and access the server in quicker time than PCs.

     Data is also displayed faster to users because no database information is sent back and forth between the device and the server.

     Thin clients suffer lesser downtime than PCs.

     PC users spend a great deal of their time tackling software management issues. Thin client users, however, can focus on their core work, leaving software management to IT administrators.

Not surprisingly, more and more enterprises globally are realising the powerful benefits of a server-based infrastructure. According to an IDC report, thin client sales hit 2.4 million units in 2005, up 46% from 2004, and will reach 5.3 million units with total sales of $1.25 billion in 2006.

  Thin Client Fat Client(PCs)
Typical Components Motherboard, RAM, CPU, LAN card (or port), display card (or port), mouse, keyboard, monitor Hard disk, CD/ DVD/ Floppy drives, cabinet, SMPS, fan, data backup devices, motherboard, RAM, CPU, LAN card (or port), display card (or port), mouse, keyboard, monitor
Average cost per unit $250 $750
Average weight per unit 10-15 pounds 20-25 pounds
Average MTBF 120,000 hours 25,000 hours
Average lifespan per unit 6 years 3 years
Bloor Research estimates that companies can reduce their IT budgets by anywhere between 20% and 70% with a typical thin client implementation. It also estimates that the number of support staff can be reduced by almost 50%

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