Rethinking the Role of the Client in the Age of the Cloud

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Desktop Virtualization and the Death of the PC

It may simply be a question of "when" not "if" a range of mobile computing devices displaces the PC.

IT services both inside and outside the enterprise are becoming more virtual with each passing day. Whether it's in the form of applications running inside the enterprise on virtual servers or applications delivered via the cloud, the services are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.

The issue this raises for IT organizations is what kind of devices do they really need to deploy to give people access to those services. Once upon a time some flavor of a PC was the standard answer. But if those services can now be accessed via multiple devices, including smartphones, there are a lot more instances where thin clients are going to be more appropriate.

According to Allen Tiffany, manager of desktop solutions, alliances and field enablement for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, increasingly customers are opting to deploy a mix of PC and thin client devices given the fact that thin clients are less expensive when it comes to accessing centralized IT services.


That's especially true in an era where more people are relying on mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets to access services when they are out of the office. Inside the office that means there are more use cases where a thin client makes more sense because the fact that it's easier than ever to access applications using other devices outside of the office.

Sometimes that thin client is nothing more than a repurposed PC. But both HP and Dell, via its acquisition of Wyse Technology, are betting that in the future that thin client is going to be a dedicated device. Against that backdrop HP today rolled out a new HP t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client system that draws power over an Ethernet connection, which makes the thin client easier to install. It also means that the HP thin client, which is based on ARM processors, only needs 13 watts of power. Part of the reason for that is a new coat of filming technology that HP developed in conjunction with 3M that enhances the brightness of the display without increasing power requirements.

Thin clients will never replace the PC entirely, but the share of the market that thin clients can claim is increasing because they are substantially easier to manage. And in an age where fewer applications run locally with each passing day, it's hard to discount the economics of a thin client over the PC.