IT organizations routinely work with multiple types of endpoints, ranging from traditional PCs to thin clients and any number of mobile computing devices. Dell is one of the primary suppliers of many of those devices, but it may come as a surprise to some that at the VMworld 2014 conference today, Dell actually announced its first thin-client device based on Intel processors.
Jeff McNaught, executive director of marketing and chief strategy officer for Dell Cloud Client-Computing, says thin clients running the Windows Embedded operating system are gaining traction because the processors in these devices are more robust. Also, IT organizations that are struggling to manage a much greater diversity of devices are looking for ways to better centralize control and management of those devices.
With the ability to support, for example, 3D graphics and dual-band Wi-Fi connections, McNaught says the days when deploying thin clients meant compromising the user experience are pretty much over. McNaught says that Dell doesn’t expect thin clients to replace every traditional PC. But in the age of the cloud, McNaught says that thin clients make a lot more sense because IT management in general is moving into the cloud.
The Dell Wyse 3000 Thin Client is based on the Bay Trail class of Intel Atom processors. At VMworld, Dell also announced that its all-in-one thin client now supports the PCoIP protocol running across a dual-band wireless network and that it offers instances of thin clients running the Suse Linux distribution from Canonical.
Of course, so many organizations are still struggling with making the transition away from Windows XP, and this issue makes thin clients an interesting option. Most of those Windows XP applications are running on Intel processors inside machines that are five years old or more, so accessing any of those applications in the cloud using the latest Intel Atom processors in a thin client is still going to provide a better user experience. And the price point of doing so probably better matches the actual business value of the applications that are still relevant to the business.
Thin clients, obviously, are not for every organization. But in this day and age, they are worth considering for a much broader number of application scenarios, given improvements to both the processors in these devices and robustness of the cloud-computing environments that can be more easily leveraged to support them.