In place of a PC, Thin Client devices are simple computers designed to run applications from a central server. A Thin Client is a desktop appliance with no hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM or other moving components. It is typically a Windows-based terminal, although it can be a Personal Computer (PC) running the Thin Client emulator or even a handheld device, such as a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). All the application processing takes place on one or more centralized servers. Users can access these applications, locally or remotely via virtually any connection using a standard desktop device, a wireless device, Web browser or Thin Client device. Because the server handles application processing and memory demands, almost any computer can function as a Thin Client. However, there are devices that are specifically designed and optimized for Thin Client protocol and offer the greatest advantages.

Thin Client computing is now an accepted strategy for business computing. It is the next generation and the most technologically advanced computing created to solve the problems experienced with the computing desktops of the corporate environment. The Thin Client concept has brought about a higher level of centralized control to the desktop. A major force behind the success of Thin Client computing is the lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as compared to other models. It is a proven fact that Thin Client computing offers significant savings.

There are many advantages to Thin Client computing including lower cost, ease-of-use, reliability and security, in addition to some of the following advantages as listed below:

  • A standard Thin Client network builds on existing infrastructure; networks, servers, computing devices and software.
  • There is reduced time spent in troubleshooting problems and less time trying to fix and maintain computers.
  • Thin Clients are a fraction of the cost of PCs.
  • Thin Clients are more energy efficient than PCs with some models using 85% less energy than their PC rivals in the real world environment. Less energy translates into cost savings.
  • Thin Clients use the network to access data and applications from servers rather than storing information or processing power at the desktop. PCs require substantial memory and computing power.
  • An optimized Thin Client, with fewer moving parts and less software complexity, will function without failure significantly longer than a typical PC and require less maintenance. According to studies, Thin Clients run without failure up to 5 times longer than PCs and have 9 times the hardware reliability of the PC. Thin Clients do not have to be replaced every 18-36 months unlike PCs which have a short product life.
  • Users do not need to administer Thin Clients and they can be setup in minutes by anyone.
  • Thin Clients start in seconds rather than minutes like PCs and are quiet, easy-to-deploy and simple to use.
  • Information can be backed up on the server instead of on all the individual PCs. This increases the probability of data getting backed up.
  • The size is small, which improves desk space as much of the hardware components of a standard PC are not necessary.
  • It is not necessary to keep a large inventory of drives and PCs waiting for a failure to occur. If a Thin Client desktop breaks, a complete replacement can be provided to bring the user back up immediately.
  • Obsolescence is greatly reduced. The latest CPU available on the market is not necessary for Thin Client computing, while PCs, to run the latest software often require the latest technology.
  • With Thin Clients, it is not necessary to go onsite to adjust the user’s desktop as all the administration is brought into the network domain. Updates are made from a central location.
  • Even with a diversity of application programs, the desktop is easily supported. A Thin Client can be configured in 5 minutes while a PC or workstation can be configured in 30 minutes, which is 6 times longer.
  • Thin Clients are virtually virus proof as they do not have vulnerable openings like floppy drives or CD ROMs where viruses can be introduced. Users cannot load or use unauthorized software on Thin Clients.
  • Thin Clients have a lower risk of equipment theft when compared to a PC. By itself, the PC has no great value as the processing power, memory and data are secure on the server.
  • Software upgrades, operating system and application software are done once on the server which reduces the downtime for users.
  • Network resources are preserved. Demands for increased bandwidth are significantly lowered.
  • Thin Client technology delivers central management of IT resources, plus faster and more frequent deployment of new applications and software.
  • It permits remote, hands-off configuring, monitoring and administration of desktop devices.
  • Utilizing Thin Client technology allows IT personnel to devote more time to more challenging strategic work.
  • Thin Clients help people get their work done more efficiently which is beneficial for the individual and the organization.
  • With Thin Clients, remote offices can normally be set up in hours and do not need expensive network equipment, configuration and support that are required in a distributed PC environment.
  • Thin Client devices are designed to cost less than PCs to run and maintain.
  • According to Gartner, Thin Clients can save an IT department 80% in support-staff costs.

It is clear that cost is a key consideration for any organization considering a change in computing environments. Most organizations should see large returns in the first year of Thin Client deployment. Support and desktop related costs drop off quickly. Other major savings will result from reduced application downtime and diminished need for user support and training.

In this time of tighter spending and more focused technology investments, Thin Client technology keeps costs low and manageability high. The end result is organizations using Thin Clients are able to manage their bottom lines more effectively.

Less expensive, more efficient, more productive and safer IT architecture are some of the benefits of Thin Clients. Thin Clients and Terminal Services combine the best features of PCs and mainframes; the user-friendly interface and software of PCs plus the reliability and security of mainframes. Thin Client computing is poised to become a major enterprise and business architecture in the coming years as it is a very enticing solution.