Why you’ll never buy another PC again

By: Lee Wrall

Date: 18 April 2012

I run a small IT company and I make no apologies for making my customers keep their hardware up to date. I feel it makes a real difference to the productivity of their staff. Modern, reliable, stable hardware returns investment many times over. It’s all about keeping your staff able to do their jobs and not waiting around to get problems fixed.

About five years ago we took on a client with about 40 computers. It soon became apparent that their hardware was flagging and that their computers would need to be replaced.

We put together a replacement schedule and upgraded a couple of machines each month to make sure we didn’t blow the IT budget. As a smaller business this worked for our client, and gradually things improved.

Upgrade time again!

Productivity improved and their people started to think differently about IT. But, of course, several years later we we’re about to run into the same marathon again. The customer wanted to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010 and their new line of business application required a little more memory than the standard 2GB that most of their computers had.

Upgrade time again! The trouble was that this time we needed everyone to get up to speed quickly to fall in line with the new application. That worked out at a cost of about £10,000 for new computers.

Obviously we didn’t want to spend all that cash but knew that in order to maximise the investment in software we would need to do something. Up steps thin client computing.

What is thin client computing?

Thin client computing means your software and applications are run on a server. Your PC only handles the screen, keyboard and mouse movements. Most of the computing power is centralised. In other words, the server does all the hard work so the client PC doesn’t need to be upgraded.

There are lots of business advantages to thin client computing:

  • People can connect to the system and use their software from anywhere, as long as they have internet access.
  • We only need to maintain one copy of the software for everyone as it’s essentially installed once on the server.
  • It’s fast and scalable, because you only have to upgrade the server, not individual PCs.
  • It costs less. For the client I’m dealing with at the moment, using thin clients will cost half what new computers would.
  • It’s secure. The security is my personal favourite. Without thin clients you have users roaming around with laptops carrying the company’s data. But now - because everything’s done by the server - the laptop they use doesn’t hold any data.

So there you go. I see this as a win-win situation, and as a result I’m sure there will be a big push towards thin client computing over the next five years. In fact, Dell is so confident about this that at the start of this month they announced they had acquired Wyse, a PC manufacturer which specialises in thin client terminals.

Thin client is the perfect accompaniment to cloud computing. It’s a technology that has been around for years. However, the next two years are when it’ll really shine.

Lee Wrall is founder and MD of Everything Tech, an IT support and service provider based in Manchester

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