Thin Client is a generic term given to client machines on networks that deliver applications and data via a centralised computing model with the vast majority of processing carried out by the server(s). This is also known as server-based computing. Thin Client technology is essentially a desktop, laptop or PDA without local and removable storage, and typically, the Thin Client terminal sends key strokes and mouse clicks to the server and the server sends screen updates to the terminal device. This simpler format to a regular PC affords many advantages to a broad spectrum of organisations including lower acquisition cost, lower maintenance time & cost, as well as better security, especially for those organisations who run a large amount of individual users.
There are a range of Thin Client devices available:
• Bespoke terminals - machines designed specifically to run Thin Client solutions, which often have no hard drive and are built around solid state technologies. They tend to be smaller, lighter, cheaper and more robust than regular desktops
• Tubby Clients - a hybrid between the Fat Client and bespoke terminal, these can accommodate some local applications
• Fat (or Thick) Clients - computers running full operating systems with locally installed applications and storage; they can be configured to run solely as a Thin Client mode or switch between Fat and Thin Client mode, and inbuilt interfaces can be disabled to emulate the 'locked down' status of a bespoke terminal.
• Legacy PCs - older PCs whose specification is insufficient to be able to run modern software can often be redeployed in a Thin Client environment.
• TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
The average annual maintenance costs for a desktop or laptop can be as much
as six times the purchase cost across its lifetime. This is not true for thin clients,
on average, thin clients can save a considerable amount per seat per year in
maintenance costs. This can be as much as a 40-percent saving for most IT
departments, a significant savings for organisations whose IT budgets are
becoming more and more allocated to maintenance.
• Security - Unlike PCs, thin clients have no local storage devices, so thin
clients are not vulnerable to viruses and other malware as long as the servers
are protected. Since there is no way to store and remove proprietary information from thin clients, that data is always safe on the server, and compliant with privacy regulations. And since nothing is stored locally, there is nothing of
easy value for thieves to physically remove. Security software is also easier to
maintain, update, and upgrade on a few servers instead of tens, hundreds or
even thousands of desktop systems.
• Manageability - Thin clients are much easier to deploy and configure for the simple reason that the software is delivered from the server. So there is very
little hands-on installation required (other than connecting the cables).
Backing up data is also extremely easy, since all the data always resides on
the server. There is no concern about employees forgetting to back up their
local hard drives or forgetting to leave their computer connected for regular
back ups. Since all applications are stored and delivered from the server,
updates can be performed at the server level, eliminating the need for
manual updates of individual systems. This also improves version control
• Availability - Because thin clients have solid-state technology, there are no moving parts to fail. And with no local storage, there is no chance for an
individual system to come under attack from viruses and malware.
Plus, should a thin client ever fail, the data is always instantly available from another system. This lack of local storage and the problems associated with it, make data much more available to the people who use thin clients than those working on conventional PCs.
• Scalability - The greatest challenge for rapidly expanding enterprises, businesses, and organisations is rapidly deploying systems.
With thin computing, the only set up required in a remote office is plugging in
three or four cables. The rest of the set up can take place in the data center. Additionally, a well-designed thin-computing solution can support up to 40,000
thin clients. Giving an organisation of any size the ability to grow quickly,
efficiently and most importantly cost-effectively.
• Reliability - Thin clients are nine times more reliable than PCs because there are no mechanical parts, such as fans or disk drives, to break down.
With no local storage of applications or data, it is impossible to download
viruses, malware, or software that causes conflicts with more mission-critical applications. By avoiding the introduction of downloaded software while
pushing storage and computing power to more reliable servers, thin
computing dramatically increases the reliability of the entire infrastructure.
• Power Consumption - As Thin Clients draw less power to function this in term will reduce the energy consumption required across your user base resulting
in lower long term energy bills and a reduction in your organisations carbon footprint.