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Thin to Zero Clients: Computing of the Future

11 Jun, 2014

"No matter your organization’s size or industry, there is a move to virtualization and to thin down computing. It's a way to reduce costs, centralize management and improve the end user experience, " says Steve Knutson, CTO, Marco. His recent blog goes on to say:

In recent years, thin clients have been a way for organizations to create easier, smoother computing environments. Thin clients essentially serve as end-point devices with some form of a scaled down, locked operating system.

Now, organizations can slim down further to what are being called “zero clients.” They are a thin client without an operating system and most often serve as a dumb terminal for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

So, what’s the difference?
•Cost: Zero clients are stripped down more than thin clients so they are less expensive.
•Flexibility: Thin clients have more flexibility than zero clients in terms of function and support. Thin clients operate more like a computer.
•Maintenance: In both cases, there are no moving parts. That means little to no maintenance.  No software patches or updates by device. The maintenance on zero clients is less because they do not have an operating system. They are immune from viruses and rarely require updates or patches.

So, how do you choose?
Thin clients work best for organizations that have not established a long-term virtualization strategy and desire some flexibility for support. They serve users that:
•Work remotely or across multiple locations and need to provide VPN connectivity.
•Upload and download files.
•Need multiple USB devices beyond a mouse and a keyboard.

Zero clients work best for organizations that have a solid software solution architecture and long-term support plan They serve users that:
•Work in a single, centralized location.
•Use mouse and keyboard and not a variety of USB devices.
•Display high-performance videos or graphics.

Thin clients are gaining more attention today with the move to cloud-based computing. But they are not a new concept. They give me flashbacks to my time working on Information Systems for the military in the 1980s when we relied on mainframes accessed by a terminal computer, the old “green screen”.

The term “thin client” dates back to 1993 when a vice president of Oracle began using it as a way to differentiate the company’s more server-oriented software from Microsoft.

The modern day technology and applications of this form of computing are still maturing, particularly as they relate to zero clients. They still have a ways to go on integration of the management tool. It will come.

I consider thin client and zero client to be the way of the future. It’s what I use in my office and recommend it for many organizations.

Posted by Steve Knutson on Jun 6, 2014 10:53:42 AM in the CTO Insider : Marco  http://www.marconet.com

Topics: All Blogs, Thin computing

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