Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, John Mertic, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Open Source Cloud, Agile Computing, Log Management, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

Containers Expo Blog: Article

The Rise of the Thin Client

Thin clients are basic computer systems that work with a server to process applications and store data through virtualization

Imagine there was a technology that could solve some of the top issues for IT managers of large companies: managing a large fleet of users' devices, with all the associated maintenance tasks, and maintaining the security and integrity of devices by preventing malicious software installation. Now imagine this solution also provided unparalleled energy efficiency. Thin computing is the answer.

Thin clients are basic computer systems that work with a server to process applications and store data through virtualization - almost all of the actual computing occurs on the server, and most of the software is installed and managed virtually by an IT manager. Many clients can run the same applications on a shared sever, which finds its best usage among workers in massive buildings, with a lot of turnover, where many employees will use the same fundamental programs repeatedly.

In large employee environments, where workers use a limited variety of programs, a client virtualization model makes sense as IT managers are more able to ensure security, manageability and energy efficiency.

A thin computing model is ideal for when data must be kept in secure, remote locations, and provides peace of mind for businesses that need help complying with laws like HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley. If you have ever been caught in an airport or hotel and realized you left your laptop behind, you understand how easy it is for company data to be stolen or abused. While hard drives are a way of life for most workers and students, they cause unnecessary headaches in environments such as manufacturing, elementary education, data entry, retail chains and call center, which are environments better suited for client virtualization. When there is no need for each person's computer to be a complex machine and many upgrades can be made via the server, rather than on each individual PC, IT teams experience fewer bottlenecks, and entire departments can experience overall cost benefits. It's virtually impossible for a thief to steal data, since applications and programs are only controlled and located on the server. Plus, those in charge never have to worry that a user is installing unauthorized programs the way they could on PCs.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings
Typical thin client devices consume anywhere from 2-10 watts of power, while typical PC systems consume anywhere from 20 to 60 watts. This dramatic reduction in power consumption translates to real cost savings, even with the back-end infrastructure considered. In fact, a recent Gartner study* measured thin client TCO annual savings as high as 79% downtime cost-per-user; 16% capital cost savings; 34% less in maintenance, 19% less to operate, and 48% overall lower total cost of ownership.

Manageability and Usability
IT managers must be able to control what different users can access, and thin clients are easy to deploy - out-of-the-box in less than 10 minutes - with just a web browser or remote desktop software to connect thin clients to your server. Whether one prefers simple, single-application kiosks or a familiar Windows environment, it's easy to customize client desktops for your users. One of the major questions that arise with those new to client virtualization is what can I use in my data center to provide a secure and reliable connection point for my devices. Citrix, VMware and Microsoft provide the software solution for your servers and can assist in the setup to ensure the technology works for each unique environment.

Unlike the thin clients of yesterday, the desktop hardware has many forms and users might not even realize they are working on a thin client. For example, HP's innovative t410, the all-in-one device where the screen is the thin client (just add mouse and keyboard of your choice), runs on Power over Ethernet and needs only 13 watts of power. In addition, there are thin clients that run up to six displays, like the t610; thin clients that allow touch, via Microsoft Windows Embedded 7 software, and thin clients that can run full-fledged VoIP calling when paired with Avaya or other Unifed Communication solutions.

Next time you find yourself frustrated by the myriad problems and costs that arise from dozens of workers using expensive machines, or find yourself navigating a new security issue, consider the benefits of client virtualization and HP Thin Clients.

* Source: Gartner August 2008 http://web.citrix.com/go/m2l/hi/pdf/GartnerReport.pdf

More Stories By Tom Flynn

Tom Flynn is Chief Technologist of Thin Client Computing at Hewlett-Packard.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
wassem 05/27/13 08:08:00 AM EDT

Hi Tom I liked your article, you covered all the benefits of the thin client computing. In the article you mentioned the low power benefit, and mentioned the HP computer, as low cost solution, but I think that our product the Cubox that Costs 120$ and needs only 3 Watt of power could be another excellent solution.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Donna Yasay, President of HomeGrid Forum, today discussed with a panel of technology peers how certification programs are at the forefront of interoperability, and the answer for vendors looking to keep up with today's growing industry for smart home innovation. "To ensure multi-vendor interoperability, accredited industry certification programs should be used for every product to provide credibility and quality assurance for retail and carrier based customers looking to add ever increasing num...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessi...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.