What's the benefit of implementing thin client devices, and what do I need to know before deploying them?
Back in the mainframe era, data, applications, security and the user environment were inherently integrated. Centralizing resources improved productivity and reduced the total cost of ownership. The lack of a user-friendly interface and easy software development were limitations, however.
More than 20 years of distributed PC computing have produced great benefits, but also revealed the efficiency and desirability of a centralized compute model. Applications and data deployed, managed and supported at the server have enabled the right resources to be delivered to those who need them.
Today, we can have the best of both worlds -- access to a vast range of software and highly virtualized and centralized data centers. Thin client devices enable IT shops to take full advantage of today's high-efficiency data center products, including world-class virtualization software, powerful (and dense) servers, flexible storage, high-speed wired and wireless networks, and trustworthy high-availability and disaster recovery solutions.
Organizations can benefit beyond the scope of their original thin client and virtualization investments. For example, a company that uses thin clients to replace integral legacy PCs may also be able to support increased telecommuting. Or, it could simply allow employees to access corporate data and apps from a wider range of devices through a BYOD program or extend the lifespan of existing desktop PCs.
Beyond making the right product choices, IT admins need a range of skills and experience for successful deployments of thin client devices. They should have a high-level understanding of back-end storage and network, server and desktop virtualization technologies. Staffers or consultants will also need at least five years of experience in virtualization and thin clients. You should require consultants to have a track record of successfully completed "many-to-one" projects, and these skills will be naturally transferred to your IT staffers as they deploy and maintain thin clients.
About the authors:
Steve Greenberg is the founder of Thin Client Computing, a leading technical consultancy in Scottsdale, Ariz. A pioneer and innovator in advanced deployments of thin client and virtualization technologies, he has been active in virtual computing since the early 1990s. He has received both the Microsoft MVP and Citrix CTP awards.
Bobbie Jones is an experienced IT systems administrator and has built and maintained a wide range of email, storage, network and virtualization systems for corporate, medical and higher-educational applications. She has deployed and maintained environments with mobile devices and fat, thin and zero clients for several years.
This was first published in February 2014