Not too long ago, deciding what type of client to deploy was easy, but managing them was hard. As we go forward, it looks like managing them will get easier, but deciding what type of client to deploy is becoming more difficult.
Today we not only have to decide whether to give workers a standard PC, netbook or thin client, we also have to decide between three to six different types of desktop virtualization models. Over time, that means most IT organizations will find themselves supporting a combination of rich and thin clients that not only use different types of virtualization, but also try to access any combination of Citrix, VMware and Microsoft virtual servers.
To deal with all this, it will become critical for IT organizations to establish real profiles of how classes of end users interact with IT assets across the enterprise. For instance, a person who works in the office primarily but who also needs access from home has different requirements than a true road warrior. Ultimately, end users will want to procure any type of client device they can afford, but as long as the IT organization is paying the bill, the required use should determine the choice of client device.
This hierarchy isn't just about saving money on the cost of the devices. Virtualization and cloud computing provide ways to improve data security, simplify backup and disaster recovery, reduce maintenance costs and make it a lot easier and faster to provision systems.But the cost of the client can still be significant, especially when you factor in the cost of memory on hundreds or thousands of clients.
Unfortunately, we can't always count on end users to always be accurate about how they use their systems, so you may want to invest in some migration tools such as Liquidware Labs that provide some statistical information to back up or disprove any anecdotal claims.
In the meantime, IT organization should be concentrating on finding management tools that support the wide range of client deployment models because the only thing worse than a lot different clients is a lot different tools to manage them.