Thin client not quite here yet

Adoption of thin clients continues to grow at a healthy rate, according to a recently released International Data Corp. report. Robert O’Donnell, senior analyst at IDC, said enterprises are increasingly turning to thin clients to solve the security, manageability, reliability and cost issues inherent

in large distributed networks of personal computers.

“”These benefits are real and they are driving the growth that thin client vendors are experiencing.””

While that may be true in the U.S., IDC here says adoption continues at a much slower rate.

“”Right now we don’t see a lot of people moving to the thin client model and replacing the Microsoft desktop,”” said Warren Shiau, manager of the software research program at IDC Canada. “”Part of that is going to be cost of Microsoft coming down in terms of software and hardware Overall, it’s still worthwhile to stay with a more functional desktop.””

Another impediment to thin client adoption, added Shiau, is Dell Inc., which continues to drive more volume sales by lowering PC prices. How much less expensive can thin client computing be than the inexpensive desktops, he asks.

“”The thin client concept is based on volume. Going thin client means taking processing power out of desktop,”” he said.

Despite its slow adoption here, Shiau cited certain circumstances where chief information officers might look to thin client computing as a viable alternative.

“”The main impetus for thin clients would be user environments that have a defined set of user functionality needs where they don’t need to have lots of processing power on the desktop or have applications outside of those applications that are directly related to the job,”” he said.

For example, in a call centre environment users are only taking calls and answering service requirements.

Or, in a retail store clerks need only enough processing power to scan an item into the system to make a sale and for inventory purposes.

The main players in the Canadian market are Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp., said Shiau.

He added thin client computing has been IBM’s standard message around pushing Linux. But that hasn’t picked up yet here either.

Market segments are piped by vertical or defined or pushed out by larger organization adopting model of thin client computing in certain areas such as retail or manufacturing.

There may also be opportunities for resellers in hardware upgrades, he added.

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