Sorting Out the Clients

Michael Vizard

For some time now, thin clients have been trying to carve out a piece of the IT landscape. It's been a tough fight as thin clients typically still command single-digit market share. But with concerns over security, total cost of ownership and the rise of virtualization, thin clients have been gaining ground.

Of course, the biggest challenge thin clients face now is the price of a PC. In terms of acquisition costs, the price of a PC is roughly equal to the thin client device. In order for the thin client to win, it has to be in an environment where there is a persistent network connection and the need to have centralized control supersedes all other considerations. As a bonus, the thin clients also consume a lot less power so by definition are the 'greener' approach.

The good news is that the thin client is getting more robust. For example, Wyse this week announced an implementation of a thin client, called Wyse Xenith, that includes XenDesktop and HDX software from Citrix to create what is known as a 'zero client.'

According to Jeff McNaught, chief marketing and strategy officer for Wyse, these devices are a subset of the thin client market that appeals to customers who don't want to have to manage software on the client or deal with malware issues on the client, and yet want to provide users with a thin client capable of running rich media applications.

Hewlett-Packard this week also released a new thin 13.3-in. thin client running Windows Embedded Standard. According to Jeff Groudan, vice president of marketing for the desktop solutions group with HP's Personal Systems Group, HP is pursuing a more comprehensive approach to clients in the enterprise by offering thin clients, full-fledged PCs and PCs configured with virtual machine software.

IT organizations are going to wind up managing all kinds of clients to one degree or another. The right mix of those clients will be defined as much by application workloads and deployment scenarios as anything else. The challenge is going to be figuring out a way to manage them all under a common framework.



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