Are thin client devices still relevant in a world of $300 Dell PCs?

I know I’ve ranted about this before but I’m going to have to do it again. Earlier this week I received an email from Dell about their latest offerings.

I know I’ve ranted about this before but I’m going to have to do it again. Earlier this week I received an email from Dell about their latest offerings. My entire home lab is Dell-based. Why? Because they're cheap and reliable. Anyway, in the email I got they were offering a PC to me (as a consumer) for €249 (which is about $325). The specs of this machine are:

  • AMD AthlonTM 64 3200+ processor
  • XP Home
  • 512MB DDR2 533Mhz
  • 80GB SATA (7,200rpm)
  • Integrated nVidia 6150-LE_Nforce
  • 48x CD-RW/DVD Combo

So nothing fancy right? Sure, if you look at it in terms of a game PC for home. But what if you look at it as a thin client or a company PC? Just to compare prices: one of the better and cheaper thin clients out there in my mind is the Wyse S10. These go for $289 (list price).
So if you think about it, for about thirty bucks extra you could have a fully-fledged PC in stead of a thin client. Now I have always been a strong believer in thin clients mainly because of the following advantages:

  • No moving parts, so a longer lifespan
  • Lower investment (purchase cost)
  • Security: no data is on the device
  • Lower Power Consumption
  • Almost no management cost (dumb device)

But if you take a look at these arguments today, this is what it looks like:

No moving parts, so a longer lifespan

True. Say that a PC lasts 3 years and a Thin Client 5 years. Even if this were to be true this does not do you that much good. Unless you’re using a Thin Client to Telnet into your AS400 system then even Thin Clients get overage at about three years. Examples:
New OSes (Windows XPe, Windows CE, Linux) that require more resources that the Thin Client eventually can’t provide.
New other software: ICA Clients, RDP 6 Client, ThinPrint clients etc. that require more resources that the Thin Client eventually can’t provide.

New peripherals become a commodity and users need to use them. The Thin Client might not be able to provide in this, certainly not at the hardware level.

Most important of all: the use of Server Based Computing environments is getting more and more graphically intense. Like I said, if you only use telnet then you’re fine but the reality is that once your environment offers a Windows Server 2007 Desktop with Word 2007 and Internet Explorer 8 then your Thin Client is toast.

Lower investment (purchase cost)

Well this is what started me on this rant. This used to the case but not anymore. It’s quite obvious that in this day and age Thin Clients are almost priced the same as a regular PC. Even though I am not a Thin Client vendor, I can not imagine that a company like Dell can produce a full sized PC for the same (or sometimes even a lower ) price as a Thin Client. I think that there should be a way to build a decent[/u] Thin Client for under $200. I emphasize the word decent because the are some Thin Client out there that do cost about $200 but frankly: they suck bigtime.

Security: no data is on the device

True but if you design your environment right then there should also be no data on your “Fat Client”. You can use group policy to lock them down as tight as you want.

Lower Power Consumption

This is true. Especially when you’re using a lot of thin clients, this can make for quite a bit of savings. However, the biggest power consumer in desktop PCs--the CPU--is using less and less energy. If you do the math I think that this advantage will get smaller as time goes by.

Almost no management cost (dumb device)

Historically this has been dubbed as the biggest money saver. And it is true. For example, some Wyse thin clients only require a network connection (and a configured FTP server) to work. So they literally work out of the box without any configuration. And of course on a thin client there is little a user can mess up. They cannot play solitaire on it and then can’t use it to install their favorite fileshare software. These advantages almost make it sound like it’s impossible to secure fat clients. I think this stems from the fact that around when Windows 2000 (Terminal Services) came out this was indeed the case. Group Polices and stuff like that were new. But these days, if you do it right, you can configure a Fat Client in such a way that it can only serve the purpose that you want it to. You could go even further and turn it into a Thin Client, by installing Windows FLP or using Thin Client server for example.

So these were the “advantages” of using Thin Clients. What about the drawbacks? Well, there are two major drawbacks to using Thin Clients

  • Usually Thin Clients have poor video performance
  • Thin Clients are very inflexible

Usually Thin Clients have poor video performance

This really is a big problem. Even the best of the Thin Clients (and by this is do not mean a Thin Client with a $300 PCI-X Graphics Card added ) have moderate graphical capabilities at best. The Dell PC I referenced to can have up to 256MB video memory and performs much better. This is really important issue because the end-user experience is very much dependent on the way the screen “performs.” You could be the only user on a Terminal server with 8 CPUs and 16 GB of RAM and be running Internet Explorer and still get “bad performance.”

This is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common since the way server-based computing is being used is getting more and more graphically intense. Think about it: five years ago broadband internet, 100 page PDF papers and skinned applications were extremely rare. These days the local senior citizens association has a huge flash-based website, every single emailed document or flyer is a PDF file and the most popular text editor by Microsoft is “skinned” by default in Office 2007. So you WILL need video power to cope with all of this and this isn’t one of the strengths of Thin Clients.

Thin Clients are very inflexible

In today’s world, companies require that their infrastructure is dynamic and allows it to cope with changing business demands. This is not something that rimes with Thin Clients. The software (firmware) on the Thin Clients cannot (or hardly) be updated on demand. Usually you’re dependent on the vendor to release new firmware updates. Also, hardware upgrades like more memory or a faster CPU are usually impossible to do. Fat clients (like the aforementioned Dell) are able to cope with change. Software and hardware can be upgraded in any way the IT department pleases. Also, take into account technology like application streaming (Softricity, Citrix Streaming Server) or even OS streaming (Ardence). These technologies will co-exist or even integrate with server-based computing. Fat clients will be able to use these technologies without any adjustments. Thin clients will not be able to do so.

Conclusion

In today’s and future server-based computing environments, it seems like thin clients are losing their advantages. Todays technology allows for you to design fat client configurations in such a way that they provide the same benefits that thin clients do while still delivering better video performance and providing the necessary flexibility. So unless thin client vendors are able to start producing good thin clients at low prices, I think the future of thin clients look bleak.

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OK. This seemed pretty unbiased until "if you only use telnet then you're fine..." Come on! And to go on and say that "the reality is that once your environment offers a Windows Server 2007 Desktop with Word 2007 and Internet Explorer 8 then your Thin Client is toast." I'm not buying it. MAYBE the S10 you referenced would have some issues but if video is you concern then buy a higher-end device. Wyse showcased their Streaming Manager at iForum in a 50 or so station Internet lab. The terminals were based on their V series and had a high-def video on the streamed desktop. It looked great full-screen!
 
Anyway, you make some good points but you went too far. "if you only use telnet you're fine.." PLEASE!
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I think this was kind of Michel's point. How much do the Wyse V series devices cost? Wyse doesn't mention on the site, only saying that the V series "starts" at $400. But I'm sure that's for the WinCE-based V30. A web search for the XPe-based V90 puts it up in the $600-700 range. So what would you rather have? A $350 Dell (incl. the upgrade it to dual video) or a $650 Wyse?

Please understand that in this case, I'm not trying to be a snarky smart-a**, I really want to know what advantage a thin client has over a locked down desktop? Especially now that group policy is easier to use, and it's pretty trivial to lock down a whole OU full of Windows machines you're treating as thin clients.

And if you're using Wyse's streaming manager which is essentially the Citrix / Ardence stuff, why choose to do it with Wyse and "locked in" hardware vs. doing it with Ardence for any hardware?

Brian
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I believe thin clients are worth more to businesses than PCs, so who cares if they cost the same (or even more). I say the same about Mac laptops compared to PC laptops. They are easier to manage, more secure, and more reliable out of the box (but they definately cost more).  Yea, yea GPOs, but thin clients are still easier and the no-moving-parts thing does help.

My reader comment is really more about Michael taking it a little too far (in my opinion). To imply that thin clients are only good for telnet and can't handle graphics is just too much for me.

Wish I had more time to write but I've got to get back to work. And no, I don't work for Wyse or any other TC vendor. See you in Chicago for BriForum!

P.S. Thank you Michael for all your great work at thincomputing.net, and Login Consultants rock!
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I agree with Brian. This is exactly what I mean. So you buy a bigger, better more expensive Thin Client with hard to manage Windows XPe. Then what? You just made a Thin Client FAT at higher costs and more administration effort (Windows Xpe) just to get decent video performance.
The emphasis here is on the video power. Thin Clients perform bad. Really bad. Period. I bet you a $900 Thin Client would not make it against the Dell I mentioned.

However, this all depends on what you're dealing with. This is why used the extreme example of Telnet. But really just absolutely normal stuff that you need to support like web browsing or powerpoint are too much for most of the Thin Clients, definitely the cheaper ones. Another factor in this is what your users are willing to cope with. If your users are not bothered with powerpoint animations showing in three frames in stead of thirty then you fine. Must users are bother however and start to blame the network or even Citrix but that is a whole different rant ...

The point of this article however is exactly what we are doing now. Discuss this kind of stuff. Perhaps I am biased. Share your experiences!

Regards,
Michel Roth.

Btw. It's Michel, not Michael but you're not the first to miss that
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True, there are Wyse, Neoware, etc. devices that handle very high screen resolutions, but I think the real bottom line is price. In order to get thin devices priced lower, they need to be able to sell to a mass market. This is tough in an already niche market.
Wyse's Streaming Manager may keep thin devices in the game for a longer time, but how flexible are the Wyse devices?? I am guessing they only work with Wyse's streaming software, whereas a PC can be locked down and be able to work with a variety of streaming products such as Microsoft Softricity or Citrix Streaming Server.
What would be really encouraging is to see some Windows XPe devices that have the price, performance, and flexibility to operate efficiently in any Softricity/Citrix/VendorXYZ streaming environments.
Even so, have you ever tried to install an application on an XPe thin device only to find out the thin dev vendor did not include a required winlib in their XPe image? Talk about headaches!
The thin device market needs some revolutionary changes that open it up to the newest world of virtualization - emphasis on "OPEN".
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I couldn't agree more. And what more open a device is there than a real PC? [:)] Seriously, I do see the value of thin client devices on the low end, when you don't need anything too advanced (ICA apps mostly) and you just don't want to deal with lock downs and GPOs and stuff. But if this is all you need, then this is where [link=http:
Brian
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That telnet option can be pretty attractive.  I built out a thin client network last year within a SCO Unix ERP environment.  Persoft Smarterm product was costing the company $160 per license, thin clients dropped this cost out of the equation.  If you take the time to suss out the capability of the TC to emulate the ERP background systems, you can tag the device into the AS400 and others.

Energy is worth considering.  I will paste an excel spreadsheet below which depicts energy savings, dont know if you will get the entire item.  This sheet reviews 200 Thin Clients purchased for work within a first and second shift environment, or 80 hours per week per unit.

Here in Illinois the politicians have re-worked energy policy and electricity prices for business have nearly doubled to better than $.08 per KWhr.  The sheet below references cost at $.07.  (I would paste in my excel tool, but it does not work within the site.  Savings include the cost of servers too.

So, I am saving the following.

$ 3,868 Per Yr 1. Electricity
$ 7,736 Yr. 2 and 3 Electricity
$32,000 1st Year ERP Emulation (Cost Avoidance)
$47,472 3 Yr. Total Savings vs. PC

Purchase Costs

$120,000 200 $600 Thin Clients
($ 47,472) 3 Yr Savings
$ 72,528 Total 3 YR TC Cost

$60,000 200 $300 PCs
$24,000 200 (Telnet) Licenses
$84,000 Total 3 Yr PC Cost

Throw the energy savings in for years 4 and 5 and you start racking up savings at a pretty good clip.  Guess it might not be a bad idea to toss that savings toward server upgrades?  Take a moment to consider the cost of tracking licenses and install of software per unit, and consider shipping costs while you are at it, and scratching your head a bit can begin to take you places.

The answer to all things is "it depends".  Good luck.  I remain a TC fan.
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Hi everybody, it's been a long time since i posted here
 
Here's my opinion :
 
1. The acquisition cost in a company is not the most important thing to look at
2. What really cost is the maintenance, the indirect costs and the "business being unable to work" cost
 
Let me explain myself.
 
The acquisition cost usually represent about 15% to 20% of the IT budget in a company.
Being able to deploy a new image to thin client because you need for example the latest ICA client on it represent a quite huge money saving, especially with companies running thin client on different sites in different locations (countries). You can of course try to use software deployment packages to push new packages or configurations to traditional pc's but have you ever estimated the cost of such a solution (leased line impact, licenses, scripting,....)
 
Another big problem we have in companies (i mean here in europe) is "PC disappearing". For example, i have an hospital where about 20 pc's are stolen per month. Since they moved to thin clients, no one is disappearing anymore as people knows that it's impossible to use at home.
 
Another impact for the total cost is power consumption, you save approx 75 € (about 100$) per year by using a thin client instead of a pc (based on a 8 hour / day usage)
 
Another major difference is MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) which is 1.000.000 hours for a thin client compared to 100.000 hours for a pc with moving parts (10 times more)
 
Now let's take a look at some situation where a thin client is a must. If you want to deploy SBC solution in some industries where the working conditions are very difficult (dust, water, heat,...), it's abolutely impossible to use traditional PC's
 
If you take a look of "out of business" cost, you can be surprised if you really count how much this represent for all these employees being unable to work because the pc is out of order
2 years ago, an insurance company had to close 3 days because a worm spread thru all the pc's (being used as thin clients) in the tower, i let you imagine the direct and indirect cost of such an experience
Now they are all on CE thin clients and life is much easier than before
 
Of course, pure grahic performances are better with a traditional pc but are there lots of companies who need state of the heart graphic cards to do their business ?
When you know that most of the time, a user uses office applications, erp's and stuff like that, I doubt
 
Thanks for reading :)
 
cheers from Belgium
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I agree with Robert.  A thin client , in a lot of cases, in much better.  Why?  for all the reasons he stated.  I think of it like this.  I buy a Dell, I unbox it and now I have to configure it and lock it down and patch it and all that jazz.  That cost a lot more than a thin client.  Even if I'm using the Dell as a thin client.   
 
Yah, you can bring up that you can secure and configure a box in seconds and a lot of us can but  I have and you have and a lot of us have walked in to customers who do NOT and NEVER will.  So, they have to open the box and do all this stuff and it takes time, money, and still it is not as good as a thin client.  
 
Also, I like to think of it like this.  I have a remote site, a bank branch office, and during business hours the teller PC goes down.  If I have a thin client, I have the teller go to the closet and pull out the spare and plug it in.  If it is a PC we have to have the teller go to the closet, pull out a $300 dollar Dell, which is basically a crappy poorly built PC and plug it in and then apply hotfixes and such... Or wait for the system to do all that for you, that is if you have configured it do to that and again, truly how many companies have that in place?  Be honest..   I have years upon years of consulting and most of us do and the reason we do is because not everyone does things right ...  correct?
 
So, the price of the device is not the price of the device configured and if you do a REAL honest ROI on thin client vs. PC then in my mind the thin client wins.
 
I also like Roberts comments on how the Mac is more but out of the box it is ready.  I agree. and again, I think he hit the nail on the head.
 
BUT, it all depends on device to device and company to company.... you can't say 100% either way... IT all depends and anything else is just foolish.  There is no 100% but for 100% what one believes and that is called "stuck in ones ways" or as Einstein called it a, "rule rut". 
 
Now, I don't make a single penny off thin client venders or fat pc venders.  I use to partner with Maxspeed as they just rocked but they were bought by Neoware and that is a different story.   Even if I did, which I don't, I'm honest enough to state what I feel is best.   I'm unbiased and experienced and from my experiences I believe a good percentage of companies are not ready to make a PC in to a Thin Client or at least not a easy to deploy, easy to secure one.  After all, is that not what we are after in when trouble arises?  That is the value of the thin client!  
 
oh, then we can talk about power savings... I know there are tons of studies on how a thin client deployed in enterprises saves tons of cash over a period of time vs. a PC.   And, a $300 PC... what is the life expectancy on that?  How much does it cost to fix it?  come on... thin client wins in almost every instance.
 
I truly belvie that the future is thin client.  The Microsoft Xbox is a going to be a thin client and is in many ways... in the future I truly believe that Microsoft will push a slew of stuff our way through the Xbox deployed in many people's home.  The apple TV is a thin client and Apple is just starting to push that... but then that is a different topic... 
 
 
DB
 
Douglas A. Brown
President and Chief Technology Officer
 
Microsoft MVP, Windows Server
Citrix Technology Professional
 
DABCC, Inc.
 

E-mail:       dbrown@dabcc.com
Web:        http://www.dabcc.com
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Awesome, you saved me from going looking myself.  This is perfect... try to get this saving from a 500 watt power supply.  You can't... it is just crazy for anyone but a sales guy for a PC or a consultant that wants to lock down devices to think PCs are a better choice.  I'm sorry to get so worked up over this but I've been hearing this for years and I believe Brian has a another article somewhere on his site saying the same thing as this article.  A PC costs money, Gartner is not wrong when they say a PC costs up to $7,000 grand a year to manage.  A Thin client does not... it just does not... 
 
The problem is that Michel is a killer engineer and engineers tend to want to lock stuff down... put your business hat on and do the math.. Thin clients are just better...  (that is no slam to Michel, he is a VERY SMART guy)....   I just see it over and over from consultants that think they can do what a thin client does with a PC.  Yah, I can turn a PC in to a TiVo but my TiVo is, in many ways, better...   
 
ok, It is Friday.  I will get quit for the day and get off my soap box.. ;)
 
DB
 
Douglas Brown

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We struggle with this decision every year, but we're still holding strong at 60-70% thin clients. There are great arguments for both sides, because we can sure lock down a PC via policies, but we run WinCE based thin clients that don't need many updates, are centrally managed, no heat, no noise, no moving parts, low energy requirements, decent video performance, no floppy, no cd-rom, no way to get data off of them, no constant patching, no anti virus software and the licensing that goes along with it.

Don't get me wrong, we still have thousands of PCs and laptops, but for the majority of our users the thin clients still have legs.

The main concern I worry about is future generations of the Citrix client that reach down to the client to improve performance by using the local graphic engine or adding features like EdgeSight agents in to the base client. I wouldn't be surprised to see us moving towards PCs again in a few years unless the thin client guys figure out a new argument for us to stay.

Thinking of a thin client minus - I bet we get at least 1 performance complaint a day from somewhere and we need to look at end to end performance monitoring solutions, but the thin client makes that difficult as we can't get an agent o nthe WinCE based clients so all we can do it mirror the network port to get a true feel of what the client is seeing. With a PC we could run a real agent to capture the client end of the equation.
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What are you guys comparing? If all that matter is graphic performance you are not going to use Terminal Services/Citrix in the first place. You go fat and then of course makes no sense buying thin clients and therefore the fat/thin comparison is pointless.

If we are comparing Thin Clients with PCs that we want to turn into thin clients, then the story is completely different.

PCs are designed differently and regardless of what the CPU uses in terms of power, there are many other components on PCs that waste a lot of power. Just take a look at how big the power supplies are on any PC, including the $300 cheapo Dell.

Thin Clients are designed with power/management/reliability in mind. If you compare this to a PC disguised as a thin client than the thin clients have the edge for sure.

The whole power consumption thing is very funny. Try asking 10 customers any of you have (Brian, Michel, etc) how much money they spend per month on their power bills. Out of 10 I ask, one has some sort of idea. Nine have NO clue. The savings in some cases are brutal and can pay for many Citrix deployments.

As soon as Citrix/Microsoft starts to add support for 3D apps for example (like Thinanywhere), vendors will start to add better video cards to all thin clients, driving the cost down (compared to what a thin client with a good video card costs today). So a couple years from now we will pay the same for a much better thin client, the same that happened with PCs.
And when this day comes, thin clients will still be a better option for sure. Again, we are talking about a server based computing environment where the client can be a real PC disguised as a thin client OR a thin client. I am not comparing a Fat, traditional client/server environment with a Thin Client based one.

Converting PCs into Thin Clients using DOMs or light OSs like the 2X stuff or Thinstation is a good idea if you do not have the money to spend at that point in time. It saves you money now but in the long run it is better to invest on new Thin Clients as they will save money down the road for sure.

I wonder what could be done with Windows Fundamentals... I asked Microsoft internally and never got an answer. Not sure if this would affect their XPembloated business. :-)

See you later ladies. Keep the good fight up.
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Great to see so many people sharing their thoughts on this subject!
 
If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture you see that some people look at this approach from the wrong perspective. It's not about if whether you need too choose a Thin Client or a PC, it's about what you need your infrastructure be able to do. I think Thin Client had it's best chance after the dotcom burst. After that people became more cautious and conservative. Enterprises stuck to what they had and focused on doing that as financially effective as they could.
 
Today however is a different story. The world economy has picked up again. This has changed the demand that enterprises make on IT. Successful enterprises need to cope with change (whether it's an acquisition or a new product or whatever) as effectively as possible. IT needs to be agile and dynamic. Thin Clients are the exact opposite of this. They are no match for a PC in terms of flexibility. Thin Clients are the result of choice that you can not turn back from. PC allow you to cope with change much more easy. The latter does not even take into account (from my previous comment and the article) that PCs perform the "Thin Client task" better than actual Thin Clients. 
You need to cope with change. You need to design for change.

 
With the line between SBC and virtualization blurring more and more, no single enterprise just runs SBC, it's almost always a combination of several techniques (Think Ardence, VDI). Again, PCs allow you to cope with this, Thin Clients do not. And to address the argument that PCs require more maintenance and administration, once you take out that inflexible factor (Thin Clients) then you manage almost all your systems (PCs and Servers) using the same techniques. How's that for a cost saving?
 
One thing that does seem to be in favor of the Thin Client is the energy savings. Like I said in my article, I do not know the numbers and several of you have pointed out that this does save a lot of money. The PC also uses less and less energy so it will be interesting to see where this goes.
 
I do agree however that in some situations Thin Clients are better suited for the job, say for example in harsh environments or in special devices like integrated into medical devices. As an enterprise client however, they just do not deliver (enough).

In my mind the tide will change from going for a 80% Thin Client 20% Fat Client ratio, to 90% Fat Clients to 10% Thin Clients. The Thin Client will become "the special", not the other way around.
 
Regards,
Michel Roth
Thincomputing.net
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[link=http:
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Some things to keep in mind when weighing a budget PC vs XPe Thin Client are:

1.  Power consumption.  Thin clients have no moving parts and consume very little energy whereas PCs with hard disk drives, Optical Drives, 250-400W Power Supply with Fan, CPU with Fan, Video Card with Fan (usually only on higher powered machines) can easily consume 5-10X as much energy as a Thin Client which uses only 5-25W. 

http://www.extrasys.com/whitepapers/pdfs/energy_study.pdf

2.  No moving parts = longer MTBF (mean time between failure).  If your goal is to spend less money on supporting the end user and their devices, then one must consider how often one needs to send a tech to the client to touch their PC and how often that device needs to be replaced.

Thin Clients are not a perfect solution for every situation, but they do have some distinct advantages for end users without complex computing requirements.
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Michel,
Is your article about replacing Thin Clients by  $300,- PCs and using these PCs as:
- a replacement of a Thin Client (Terminal PC)?
- a mixed environment (RDP/ICA and local software)
- a FAT client (networked)

What about the advantages Thin Clients are having:
low-energy consumption, low-noise, small form factor, manageable and remotely updateable, to name a few.

Let's asume you want to use the $300,- PC as a Terminal PC?
How to get the advantages TCs have, back  to these Terminal PCs



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Just a quick note here that I want to post for everyone talking about the "500W Power Supply" or whatever is in the cheapo PC.

Just because a power supply is rated for 500W doesn't mean it consumes 500W at all times. The actual energy consumption is based on what's literally plugged in and powered up. More drives = more watts. Faster CPU = more watts. Tons of external USB thingies = more watts. I don't have any hard data in front of me, but I can guarantee if you throw a multimeter across the AC inputs of your Dell power supply that it's not taking anywhere near 500W.

A good analogy is a circuit in your house. You'll have a circuit rated at 20 amps, but if you only have a single 100W light bulb plugged in, you'll only draw 100W through that circuit (or something like 1.2 amps). Same deal for a PC power supply. It's rated at 500W, which is different than it always consuming 500W.

Brian
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Michel,

I read the article and all the posts.  I'd like to say that I think VDI and all of that ridiculousness is a massive waste of everybody's time and money.  So basing any of your premise on that doesn't hold water in my mind.  Citrix made a mistake with Ardence and MS bought softricity so they could kill it after a short period of time imo by hiding it as a feature in SMS so that eventually only a very small subset of Administrators will ever even remember what softricity was. 

Where the entire world is being driven is to the browser and browser based applications.   Soon it won't matter what OS is on your device or what device you have.  The only thing that will matter is that you have an OS that can provide you a browser interface with java and whatever other plugins.  Just look at Google's offerings.  Google will put MS out to pasture in the next 10 years in at least the desktop OS market with the advent of some sort of free linux based device and the coupling of a browser that has access to all of Google's offerings of web based applications upon powerup.  So, given that the "change" that you emplore us to prepare for becomes less and less necessary.  More and more applications that I'm asked to provide are web based.  Change is NOT something a large Enterprise likes to plan for.  Take our enterprise for example everything is on 3 year lease.  So for 3 years it better work and work well.  Because it's likely not changing for 3 years.  Take any large Enterprise and ask them about VDI.  If they know what your talking about they'll probably laugh at you if they've got a clue.  

As for running whatever MS' latest 2007 hooha is look closely in the next year to see how many LARGE enterprises adopt Office 2007.  I went to the launch and laughed at them when they told us about puting 3 people in a room testing the new suite.  One advanced one medium and one newbie.  They gave them 10 tasks to complete the ONLY person to complete all 10 was the newbie.  They were utterly happy over this.  The reason was due to the new UI.  The advanced users spent all their time trying to figure out where everything was.  I really think MS shot themselves in both feet not allowing people to change the look and feel of their new offering.  The costs of retraining a 30k+ enterprise on MS' new offering are staggering.  All of that to say.  We won't be running Office 2007 in Citrix probably ever or not until Office 2010 comes out. 

In my mind the only reason those ratios will ever switch up like you think they will is due to poor Citrix and SBC implementations.  Just as in our environment one business unit had a poor implementation of Citrix thrust upon them and have had a nasty taste ever since.  So what did they do?  Started a move to Dell PCs like you talk about.  Not because it was the right thing for the business but because it was just a different course than Thins.  Since then we've rectified most of their TC Citrix problems and now they're stuck in the middle wondering if they should have just held out a little longer.
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Yes, power supplies are rated by the amount of power (Watts) they can deliver to the load (devices being powered).  A typical PC will likely consume ~ 100W for the Fan, Motherboard (plus components) hard disk.... Having a 500W power supply is important if you need to power many disks, a couple of optical drives, fancy graphics card, 2 CPUs, a bunch of USB devices...
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Oh yeah Pat.. I forgot you had an EE background. Good thing I got that right!

Brian
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Hi jbrbv.
 
My article is about that, in this day and age, the benefits of Thin Clients in general just don't hold enogh water anymore. If your business requirement however is a low-noise, small form factor device then Thin Clients could very well be a good option for you.
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jurschel,
 
I did not base my article on the fact that I think that VDI is the bomb. I merely used it as an example to illustrate Thin Clients will not allow you to cope with a change like that.
 
IT exists too facility the business. When IT sets three year cycles according to which changes can be implemented, I would pity the business.
 
For the record: I think VDI will be an set of techniques that will co-exist with other techniques, like Terminal Server, Web Applications. It will not conquer the world.

I also think you're dead wrong when you think that Microsoft bought Softricity just so they could effectively kill it off. I suppose time will tell.
 
As to what Google is doing in creating "Google-based computing", I sincerely doubt if enterprises will "buy" it. The web is very important but if we were heading for browser-only clients environments, this would be substantial by now. This was said to happen years ago and it didn't. Just like Thin Clients do not make up the majority of the client environment of enterprises. It just didn't happen. These things happen for a reason.
 
Similarly too VDI, I used Office 2007 as an example. I'm sorry if I made the impression that I think that everyone will migrate to Office 2007 this year. It's merely an example of how the demands on clients (if just in SBC environments) continue to grow.
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The purchase-price argument is becoming difficult to persevere with, particularly as the higher-end devices (eg. Wyse x50 series) are comparable with low-end Tier 1 business desktop PCs.
 
However there is way more to it than.
 
True zero-touch config (sorry, but a PC still isn't zero-touch) is the biggest benefit a thin-client has. I've just converted a client to thin-client - he sends a Wyse S10 to a branch office - it gets plugged in, boots automatically, bang - the user gets a logon prompt to the Citrix desktop.
 
It takes a LOT of work to make a Windows PC a lite-touch, stateless device. And then you have resource-overkill.
 
The biggest impediment to thin-client adoption in an enterprise is company culture - both user and IT. PAs who are hooked on direct-attached printers...."power" users who want scanners and label printers...Windows administrators who can't consider a desktop platform other than Windows...they all hurt thin client adoption.
 
My tip: 3rd-gen thin clients will emerge, following the adoption of Tarpon/Softricity streaming products.

As Doug Brown said last year, there is a bucket load of unexploited processing power in a typical corporate desktop PC. ICA/RDP doesn't take advantage of this, but streaming will.
 
We also need a modular, semi-stateless OS. Like an OS that reverts to a snapshot every time you reboot it, and the apps get streamed (probably from a local cache). Like refreshing a FlexProfile....
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I'm with Michel on this one. There has never been a big enough differential on price (if any) to justify going thin client, and with less features and flexibility, it's a difficult sell.
 
The one and only time where thin client has been an option for us is for remote sites where

replacement is better than repair
the service the client will see is harsh such as desert - therefore thin client will last longer
it's easier to replace a thin-client device than a desktop

 
For everything else a desktop wins hands down. The end user has a lot to say about this and in almost all organsiations I've worked for, if the end user doesn't like it, the company will stick with proper desktops.
 
And if people are worried about energy consumption, wouldn't the the data centre be the place to start first?
 
KingClifton mentioned a semi-stateless OS with snapshotting - sounds like a VDI solution to me .
 
Cheers
 
Russell
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ORIGINAL: cendrars

That telnet option can be pretty attractive.  I built out a thin client network last year within a SCO Unix ERP environment.  Persoft Smarterm product was costing the company $160 per license, thin clients dropped this cost out of the equation.  If you take the time to suss out the capability of the TC to emulate the ERP background systems, you can tag the device into the AS400 and others.

Energy is worth considering.  I will paste an excel spreadsheet below which depicts energy savings, dont know if you will get the entire item.  This sheet reviews 200 Thin Clients purchased for work within a first and second shift environment, or 80 hours per week per unit.

Here in Illinois the politicians have re-worked energy policy and electricity prices for business have nearly doubled to better than $.08 per KWhr.  The sheet below references cost at $.07.  (I would paste in my excel tool, but it does not work within the site.  Savings include the cost of servers too.

So, I am saving the following.

$ 3,868 Per Yr 1. Electricity
$ 7,736 Yr. 2 and 3 Electricity
$32,000 1st Year ERP Emulation (Cost Avoidance)
$47,472 3 Yr. Total Savings vs. PC

Purchase Costs

$120,000 200 $600 Thin Clients
($ 47,472) 3 Yr Savings
$ 72,528 Total 3 YR TC Cost

$60,000 200 $300 PCs
$24,000 200 (Telnet) Licenses
$84,000 Total 3 Yr PC Cost

Throw the energy savings in for years 4 and 5 and you start racking up savings at a pretty good clip.  Guess it might not be a bad idea to toss that savings toward server upgrades?  Take a moment to consider the cost of tracking licenses and install of software per unit, and consider shipping costs while you are at it, and scratching your head a bit can begin to take you places.

The answer to all things is "it depends".  Good luck.  I remain a TC fan.


Hi
I saw your calculation and think your Energy savings are on the low.

According to "my sheet" you save about 15k a year. Did you include cooling/ac costs.
Heat coming from the pc's should be cleared by the building cooling. Look at the number of Btu, average pc 500 btu (200 Watt, dell), average thin client 10 BTu (6 Watt, chip pc). Cooling is one of the most energy consuming processes there is. Of course if you are on the cold part of the planet it works the other way around

Also operational hours of span more then the standard 9-5 business hours. Again pc's need more attention.

An average virus scanner is about 7-15 dollars per seat, this is not needed any more, with a TC!!

In addition the environmental load (ROHC) of thin clients is far less then pc. Although this is not a direct cost related subject, it is something that is regarded as important for some companies with regards ISO14001.

Regards

Cas
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I always go low on the projections!  I appreciate your ideas though and will expand my low ball approach based on your suggestion.  Thanks.
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    A buddy forwarded me this link.

Its interesting to see the different views on Thin Computing.  I tend to agree that a TC can't replace a PC for everything (regardless what yours sales guy may say).

That said, it can displace most of what enterprise PCs do.  Sure you aren't going to spend your free cycles playing flash games to "borrowing" the old units for home use, but thanks to RDP and ICA it'll clear most task perfectly.

As for VDI, who says it can't work?  The S10 mentioned has VDI support and works hand in hand with a couple of connection brokers for near seemless integration to a remote desktop.  With a VM ESX backend, you gain all the performace power of desktops, without actually needing one in front of the user.  This means that the TC only needs to paint the screen and depending on HW possibly displace some video encoding to compensate for ICA and RDP limitations.

I view TC migration as such, you are ready make they move, its just whether you are ready to fully commit.  Buying the noted 650 XPe and trying to run like a PC isn't the way to go.  S10 VDI is a prime example how how to save money on the TC but using a VM and RDP to create a seemless desktop environment.  Or using ICA for the Office 2007 apps that have been referenced so often through this chain.  There is very little need to run apps local for most deployments.  Clearly there are exceptions, but less than you would initially think.

Keep it in perspective, is every mom and pop going to see huge gains from replacing 4 PCs with TCs...not likely.  But when you start to scale that out to 100s, 1,000s, 100,000s it becomes overly clear where the savings add up. 

Someone mentioned that the world is changing and graphics are stepping in which will TCs.  I disagree.  Infrastructures are stepping up allowing faster data transfers, eliminating the need for local storage.  Solutions like VM and VDI seemlessly place-shift the users desktop environment granting them the same functionality as PC (including graphics), without actually needing a PC.

The world is changing, and the way I see it, TCs are pushing PCs out of banks, schools, retail shops, and even the gov't at an alarming rate.  This will only increase with technology.  You already see simular dedicated appliances in homes (slingbox, tivo, etc.)  This will soon include further integrated TC functionality as seen with media center PCs. 

The HW requirements of Vista alone are predicted to boost TC aquisition as the cost to upgrade PCs outweighs the gain.  Investing in infrastructure and moving to TCs becomes the better value.  Every new PC has a vista license, so if you choose to remain on XP desktops, you'll begin wasting money on licensing.  If you move to Vista, you still gain the same Vista features when connecting over VDI, without needing to upgrade each machine.

TCs are dying with the emergence of low-end PCs, they are accelerating.  The same gains that allow PCs to get cheaper...allow PCs to add functionality and lower cost.  You'll see you sub 200 "decent" TCs in the coming months...and the best candidate is the some variant of that S10 VDI.

-k

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ORIGINAL: karaziel
noted a few typos...
Someone mentioned that the world is changing and graphics are stepping in which will KILL TCs.

TCs are NOT dying with the emergence of low-end PCs, they are accelerating. 
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Hi all, great debate here!
 
I want to clarify something – there is no such thing as a thin client
 
What do I mean? The world of stocking the cooperate space with a few types of notebooks and one model of desktop are gone. Users are demanding and getting a variety of platforms to compute on, different form factor notebooks, tower PC’s, MAC’s Desktops, PDA’a low power computers (Thin Clients). This is putting pressure on IT departments to deliver apps consistently across all platforms – this is why we are all hooked on Server Based Computing here.
 
There is no utopian device to suit all, today’s thin clients are X86 devices most with IDE ports, put a HDD in one and it’s a “PC”. This kind of small desktop form factor suits many but will not suit all. Thin Clients have an expanding place but will not replace the large desktop as no one platform can.
 
Let’s look at why people buy Thin Computers, Brian likes the following factors:
 
Cost
Computing Power
Windows XP OS
 
He likes this because it provides him with a flexible platform with high computing power great but this does not suit all. I started as many using Windows as an OS for my old Citrix environment however there was a cost. I had to build the OS, patch it, run AV and have a delivery mechanism for software (like ICA client updates) and OS. This costs time and money. Eventually I started looking for a non Windows client to remove this complexity.
 
So what platform do you buy for a Server Based Computing client? It’s a Hardware and Software choice.
 
-          Hardware. Buy what you need, this space is always changing. If a low power device is right get it. Green house gas is real, do something about it.
 
-          Software. This makes the device and there are easier ways to connect up than XP.
 
I think Thin Computers will grow still; it’s the app that counts. Use a client that makes it easy to deliver it for you!
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That was an interesting look... :-)
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Exactly. Your environment need to flexible, your clients need to flexible.
PCs fit that bill, Thin Clients don't.

Michel Roth
Thincomputing.net
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Thin clients are a pain in the butt.  You would think they have lower cost of ownership but I think that is not as true as you may think.  Depending on your situation they can be a bear to deal with as you try to make different apps work with them.
 
The only time I have and would use thin clients is in an enviorment where you needed the strictest of security or the absolute simplest function.  For example the last time I deployed them was in a jail because PC's in that enviorment got beat to hell where the thin clients would take the beating much better and all that was needed was simple usage.  And yes most of that usage was to connect to an AS/400 via its built in client.
 
 
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Thin Clients are only a pain in the butt when you don't know how to configure the SBC environment servicing them.  Sure, some TC's are considerably more rudimentary (HP) than others (Wyse) but typically cost a significant less. It all depends on what you're wanting to achieve - both thin clients and PC's have a place in this world and selection is typically based on 1. a business need or 2. a business pain.
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Hey Michel,
 
Excellent thoughts.  I enjoyed the read.  I definately agree, even though the picture is not as black and white as the initial cost of the box itself.  Each business needs to measure these out themselves, as no company will look at it the same.  You did a good job getting people to think about more then just the $$$ in hardware, but the other "advantages" or "disadvantages" or solutions like Wyse.
 
I believe there are many that are getting into thin client boxes that maybe do not need to.
 
John
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The problem I have with this is that the $325 Dell computer doesn't exist unless you take exactly what they have in the catalog.  Go to that computer on their website, click "Configure" and the price goes up without making any changes.
 
Also, we have to use XP Professional in our environment.  More $$$. 
 
Add to that the base unit only comes with a 1 year warranty and we upgrade to the 3 year warranty here.  More $$$.
 
We also have to add on "Gold" tech support to every unit we buy or I'd spend an hour at a crack on the phone with India listening to some "tech" run through their script when I already told him what the problem is.  More $$$.
 
The $325 PC seems to end up costing me about $800 before adding Office.
 
Believe me, I have this same argument with management every time one of them brings me the latest Dell catalog and asks why we're not buying the $325 PCs.
 
 
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Hello All

I have been reading this with great interest. We are seeing a move to web based hosting - back to the ASP style of business - VoIP is popular, why not the concept of DoIP (Desktop over IP ) I have read about some ISPs shippping Mom&POP a 'terminal' with a built in modem and cam and ZAP they are online and much like Google Apps the ISP hosts and delivers services...

But for the business sector I must start off by saying if our organisation was not already heavily invested in CITRIX - I would have a hard time putting up a case for the innitial investment to move to thins...but even so it does stack up. Just the outlay is not very attractive.

First of all I no single solution fits all. For those considering a move from Fat to Thin or visa vis; please do your homework and do not base your decision on this editorial.

There are clearly glaring holes on the $300 PC argument.

My questions are -
*why make a fat machine thin?
Is it cause the 'graphics' are better on the client?
*Well what if you are a CITRIX house - and everything runs via ICA?
*What if your industry delivers Office Apps & a few non-graphic in-house apps?
*Why do you need the "powerful fat machine"? Word Excel and base apps dont need this much grunt...
How can a PC ever really be fat? (dont you still need to maintain it? Does the upfront cost of your assessment really form the bases of your business case?

PC presents you with:
You will have higher shipping costs.
You will a higher energy bill
You will need more staff per unit
Limited speed to market
Higher insurance (PC is attractive to light handed people)
probably a server at each site
Higher turnover with moving parts
Maitenance...

I have an issue with keeping the FAT strategy if you have a business that can operate without heavy CPU at the desktop level (Graphics etc). SO you going to buy a PC, spend hours turning it into a thin client, then you ship it to site; have to have a tech onsite to install it; then it breaks down and you need to replace it - but wait - your SOE no longer works cause DELL have sold that batch of $300 units and the new ones have a new network driver - so you need to get the next version - with new drivers etc etc - (new SOE) and so on...you fundamentally have almost 2 gig of OS to support with a FAT machine - no matter what you do to it.

The whole point of thin client is to reduce management. It has been mentioned that the Wyse S10 will ship straight to site and once connected the .5 MB OS loads off an FTP server and in seconds is autoconfigured and ready for login...oh and if it break - just like when your pen runs out - you go to the closet and get another. Simple - no techs needed on site.

Now granted - you will have a significant investment in CITRIX - for our business the solution fits - this may not for others.


Basing your plans on innitial cost, is simply short sighted.

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I have been reading this with great interest. We are seeing a move to web based hosting - back to the ASP style of business - VoIP is popular, why not the concept of DoIP (Desktop over IP ) I have read about some ISPs shippping Mom&POP a 'terminal' with a built in modem and cam and ZAP they are online and much like Google Apps the ISP hosts and delivers services...

But for the business sector I must start off by saying if our organisation was not already heavily invested in CITRIX - I would have a hard time putting up a case for the innitial investment to move to thins...but even so it does stack up. Just the outlay is not very attractive.

First of all I no single solution fits all. For those considering a move from Fat to Thin or visa vis; please do your homework and do not base your decision on this editorial.

There are clearly glaring holes on the $300 PC argument.

My questions are -
*why make a fat machine thin?
Is it cause the 'graphics' are better on the client?
*Well what if you are a CITRIX house - and everything runs via ICA?
*What if your industry delivers Office Apps & a few non-graphic in-house apps?
*Why do you need the "powerful fat machine"? Word Excel and base apps dont need this much grunt...
How can a PC ever really be fat? (dont you still need to maintain it? Does the upfront cost of your assessment really form the bases of your business case?

PC presents you with:
You will have higher shipping costs.
You will a higher energy bill
You will need more staff per unit
Limited speed to market
Higher insurance (PC is attractive to light handed people)
probably a server at each site
Higher turnover with moving parts
Maitenance...

I have an issue with keeping the FAT strategy if you have a business that can operate without heavy CPU at the desktop level (Graphics etc). SO you going to buy a PC, spend hours turning it into a thin client, then you ship it to site; have to have a tech onsite to install it; then it breaks down and you need to replace it - but wait - your SOE no longer works cause DELL have sold that batch of $300 units and the new ones have a new network driver - so you need to get the next version - with new drivers etc etc - (new SOE) and so on...you fundamentally have almost 2 gig of OS to support with a FAT machine - no matter what you do to it.

The whole point of thin client is to reduce management. It has been mentioned that the Wyse S10 will ship straight to site and once connected the .5 MB OS loads off an FTP server and in seconds is autoconfigured and ready for login...oh and if it break - just like when your pen runs out - you go to the closet and get another. Simple - no techs needed on site.

Now granted - you will have a significant investment in CITRIX - for our business the solution fits - this may not for others.


Basing your plans on innitial cost, is simply short sighted.
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Oh I agree with Bean about no single solution fitting all.  We're just at the very beginning of looking at thin client for our environment (the CIO came to the last meeting mentioning  this wonderful article he read in The Journal about this "great new" technology called "thin-something or other".  I've been tasked with the research phase. 
 
How I'm initially visualising it is this:  The main program that we have that everyone uses is run from a Unix server.  Everyone has an emulation program on their desktop that was based on a Wyse 60 in the first place and hasn't really changed from those days.  Probably 80% of my "inhouse" users use only this program, email, internet, and occasionally MS-Word.  Thin client would be perfect for them, especially since we're a manufacturing company and PCs fail pretty regular out in our factory locations.  My heavy users, engineers and the like, would stay on their high-powered workstations as always.  Road warriors would keep their laptops.
 
No way we could put everyone on thin client but I think we've got enough users that we could that would be a good cost savings down the road.
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But also consider that a 500 watt power supply running at 20% utilization is far less efficient than a 20 watt power supply running at 80% utilization.  Given that the thin client is designed with zero expansion, the vendor can size the power supply appropriately (whether they choose to do so is up to them)  Although a PC manufacturer has to size their PC power supply to support a fully loaded PC, which is far from the $299 version.
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We are an IT company that promotes Server Based Computing and till now we have made several implementations mainly on Education and POS field.
Real Thin Clients (like Wyse S10 and SUN Rays) cannot replace computers in cases like 3D graphics or where local CD/DVD/scanner is required, but they can do in most of the rest. We still use some 8-year old SUN Rays 1 in our environment, that haven't faced a single problem all these years and the most important benefit is that we haven't touched them all this period of time, even the required upgrades are done automatically from the server without user intervention. Yes there are problems with local support of peripherals, mostly in SUN Rays, but in cases where the only requirement is access to specific applications and nothing more they are just ideal solution.
Thin clients have significant benefits in terms of:
1. HW acquisition cost (SUN Rays and Wyse S10 cost less than 250€ including the license). The only PCs that really cost around 300€ are non-branded, low cost and quality computers that will probably face hundreds of problems during their lifecycle. A normal branded PC will cost around 450€ with Windows XP PRO and it will probably have no more than 4 years lifecycle compared to 7 years of Wyse S10 or 10 years of SUN ray.
2. Application deployment is much simpler and faster in a thin client environment, since everything is done on one simple server.
3. You have to manage only one central server which can be outsourced for a quite low cost. There is no need to have a numerous Desktop maintenance IT staff for supporting failures in your environment. If a thin client fails you just replace it, connect the cables and finish, even the dumper user can handle this.
4. SW acquisition cost. Only one Antivirus license on the server is required, Windows Terminal Server CALs cost less than Windows XP. If there is no need for Windows applications (e.g access to a Web based application) and you use SUN Rays, then you save the cost of the Windows server in both HW and SW as Solaris 10 is free.
5. Power cost savings. Obviously a thin client spends much less energy compared with any current or future PC as they have no moving parts. This can bring tremendous cost savings in large infrastructure environments.
6. The lack of PC components like CPU, memory, HDD leads to a much higher MTBF. Simply whatever doesn't exist doesn't fail.
7. Security. Nothing is stored locally, you can easily allow or block the use of USB storage like memory sticks. Thin clients are useless away from company server, thus cannot be stolen. It is not accidental that thin client solution is a must option for Military and other Governmental and private organizations which are sensitive in this area.
 
Some drawbacks are the following:
1. Lack of support for some peripherals like scanners or printers locally connected. You can overcome these issues though with the use of network devices. Wyse S10 is surprisingly compatible with the majority of the local printers in the market, it supports even directly connected passbooks with serial interface. Scanners need local connection to a PC and is quite expensive to use network ones.
2. You cannot use localy connected CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drives (in the real thin clients not in the Windows based ones that their only difference with the PC is the lack of HDD).
3. You cannot use thin clients for 3D applications and games as the processing is done on the graphics card. Also their Video performance is not so good but in the new generation devices is acceptable. Near future deployments will have enhanced performance in both 3D and Video by allowing applications to use a 3D graphics card installed on the server to render complex tasks.
4. There is one single point of failure where all your desktop environment relies on. You can easily though protect your server with fail-over/load-balancing/ RAID configurations and redundant power supplies. You have only one system to manage so you can invest a small portion of the money you saved, to enhance the reliability of your environment.
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One of the nice features about thin clients are that they are actually kinda thin. Fat clients tend to be fat. Even the more expensive ultra small form factor pc's are pretty fat compared to a Wyse S10 (wich isnt by far the thinest arround).

Most people dont really like that big piece of plastic on their desk! 

Cheap pc? I just configured a new Dell Vostro PC with 3 year warrenty on their site. Except for the warrenty i chose only the cheapest options. It added up to €418,-. I can get the a nice thin client for €250,-. I recently had good experience with the Futro A series. Good feature set, good management software. It's my choice over the S10 (http://www.fujitsu-siemens.com/products/deskbound/thin_clients/futro_a.html)

About the video performance argument: Yes, thin clients cant match pc's. But how many businesses use YouTube in their CRM's? And what about videoconferencing? How many companies have their workers use that on a daily bases? Walk into any office building and count the webcams....

I would say that at least 95%, probably 99%, of all company computers could easily be a simple thin client. Just tell your employees to watch youtube at home. Just like all those employees dont really need a Color Photo Deskjet printer on their desk. They're fine walking to that nice, low cost, black and white laser copier in the hallway........

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TS vs PC ? I think cost and power comparison is not the right way to look at it....

Imagine for 100 users...either 100 Dell PCs + 1 or 2 Dell PE 1950/2950 as file servers or Terminal Services with 100 Thin client + the 1 or 2 Dell 1950/2950 as file servers + Terminal Server farm of 3 units Dell 1950 servers (2 way quad core + 8GB RAM) + 1 unit of Dell 2950 (for storing of Profiles) + 1 unit of Dell 2950 (for storing of user documents via redirection) + server rack + additional cooling system for the extra 5 servers.

So comparison of cost of hardware + maintenance + operational cost, not quite relavent or mentioned. Power consumption ? that 100W x 100 users vs 500w-800w per server + extra cooling system at 10KW per hr ??

My Point is that the matrix used for comparison would mainly be "application required" vs "ease of admin/control"....

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And I forgot to mention license costs of 100x Win XP vs 3x Windows 2003 Enterprise + 100x TS user CALs..... if using Citrix...then better use a notebook comparison instead of PC !

 

Cheers....no punt intended...

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Yup, licensing cost can get pretty high especially if you're using Citrix

I have found a pretty decent terminal server, ThinServer XP with low licensing cost

Check it out at :- www.aikotech.com/thinserver.htm

 

 

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Hey everyone,

not to kick a dead horse or anything but I didn't see anyone point out the special purpose station idea aside from a mention of hospital kiosks.  Those of you who travel have probably seen a WYSE keyboard in more places than you care to admit: rental car counters, hotel registration desks, airline ticket agent counters, just to name a few. 

How about schools then?  Computer labs that do not need intensive graphics are a great fit for thin clients.  Unless you are locked down to the extreme, a dedicated professional can own a fat client machine without too much trouble ("if a hacker has physical access to the PC you do not control it" is the quote that comes to mind). 

In my mind, anyone in a business that can do all of their work on a thin client should do so.  We are using JackPCs for our LCD consoles and WYSE clients in our training rooms.  The lack of attention a properly configured Citrix farm + thin client environment needs is amazing. 

The point here is this: I don't see people like airlines, hotels, and car rental companies throwing away their wyse terminals for cheap Dell computers.  It isn't going to happen when you can "fix" a broken thin client by plugging a new one in and turning it on.  More and more we should be seeing IT centralizing and making the fringe dumber and safer (think Server Core and the RODC...safer, thinner, lighter). 

Now put this in the picture: Server 2008 with Remote App, a web interface, and an SSL proxy.  You get the basics of Citrix baked right in!  Price and complexity are the 2 biggest things my clients lash out against Citrix about.  This will change everything in the small to mid SBC market. 

 Ben Lipman

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I guess MS coming out with Vista makes the argument for Thin Client stronger!  Factor the costs to upgrade existing PC's to Vista then add the fact that some of us use legacy apps that do not work on Vista, it makes the decision to go to thin clients much easier.  Besides, who wants to deal with Dell?
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All I'm hearing is a bunch of people who make their living supporting or selling thin client support, or a group of people who are already locked into the technology.  I can't imagine that an objective outsider starting out to solve a computing problem within a business would seriously using TC except for very specialiazed environments.

There's so much that's so misleading that's been presented here.  As an example, consider the power supply issue.  The $300 Dell will come with a 185 Watt power supply, not the 500 Watt figure so casually thrown out.

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Sure right now the balance is off. Aside from the possible cost savings of power consumption and maintenance, Cheap dells do tend to have better expandability options. Ex donations, recycling parts, and just making dell + china more money. But i personally think we are getting close to the top of the fat client vs thin battle. I think soon enough we will be able to use a cell phone like IPHONE as a thin client with a docking station for something like a hdmi video out or something along those lines. Hook a bluetooth keyboard and mouse up to it with a usb docking station for print and we are good to go. Seriously it should have happend by now my 600$ phone should have enough power to do RDP and at the rate i go through phones every 2yr contract its just as simple as selling my soul to the devil for a new thin client. The days of fat clients are numbered, enjoy them while they last. Personally i think it will be nice to work from anywhere in the world with my portable phone, keyboard, and mouse. Now that phones come with wifi / 3g built in, I just wish I could afford to develope the idea.
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Our 2006 Dell desktops of different flavor consume between 50 and 70 Watt. Just plug a KW -meter in between and you know what you are talking about. Where to save more power. A 19inch TFT screen consumes about 30 Watt.Less energy usage, less heat production, less space usage, no noise are important selectors for thin client computing here.ISO14001 in mind too.A max 6WATT consuming WinXPE FAT thin client is able to serve the applications until about 2014 using virtual PC technology on the server but before that we will have to start over again and look what the market is offering for our applications. It is worth the higher investment in Thin client devices here. It earns back for various reasons already mentioned by others. Overal power usage reduction is about 60% with the heavier server computing power included.As mentioned earlier about the BTU's, in the summer we can gain extra with the aircon but in the winter we will miss the heat of the PC. Need to heat extra with the aircon's.cheers,Fred


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I will continue to push thin clients throughout my organization.  It is true that the main benefit and cost savings of thin clients is the ease of management.  Here is a post from my blog that explains why I think thin clients are great.


<a href='davidhazar.blogspot.com/.../thin-clients-i-never-thought-it-would.html&


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