Will this finally be the year of thin client computing?

Thin client computing is poised to experience a stellar year in 2007.

Long found in niche markets, where data control is paramount, vendors and resellers of thin client computing technology have found new opportunities within the small business segment.

As Canada has over 1 million small businesses, this is a large and varied pool of potential customers. The success of the small enterprise market within Canada is vital to the longevity of our economy. As such, storing information within the small business segment is also critical.

Total PC shipments within the Canadian IT landscape, including both desktop and notebook PCs, were an estimated 4,917,388 units last year. Approximately 132,395 of them were thin client machines, representing 2.7 per cent of total PC shipments.  By opening up the small business segment to this technology in 2007, the potential for thin client growth is robust.

Environments where thin client computing excels include health care and education. Users can access pertinent information without storing information on the actual PC terminal. Information not locked down is considered a liability. By contrast, information stored on the server is considered a proactive method for securing data.

One of the major concerns facing enterprises is information management, including protecting data from competitors, attackers, and disgruntled employees. This task can be challenging in the best of times. Intellectual property is the critical differentiator for a small business – be it product design information, clients, legal and corporate filing (i.e. government forms) or service offerings. As such, this information must be secured.

Key benefits of maintaining information on the server include data protection and the ability to access it without constraints. As long as the server is up and running, the information is available. Yet without it being stored on the individual devices, the risk is minimized.

Small companies are also faced with tight budgets, and sometimes patchwork IT spending habits. However, when an organization is able to carefully access their IT financial investments and plan a strategy for the near future (two to three years), the possibilities of thin client computing are realised.

Data secured on the network

–means not having to secure the actual PC, resulting in hardware and software savings;

–means that the PCs can be less robust, resulting in hardware savings;

–means that the information is always accessible. 

Company owners can rest easy, knowing that their information is protected.

Once found in large corporations, thin client computing has finally started to make its presence in small companies, which provides opportunities to resellers and systems integrators alike. 


Michelle Warren is a senior IT industry analyst who focuses on the Canadian market.

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