For some time now, thin clients have been an excellent choice for companies of all sizes. Thin clients, such as Citrix DaaS, VMware Horizon, AWS, Azure Virtual Desktops, or Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, are affordable, easy to manage, and don't require much maintenance. But as good as they are for some organizations, they don’t always fit with every company. Thin clients come with a lot of questions that need to be answered by an organization before the decision is made to implement them. Here are four common questions that serve as a good starting point for any organization considering them:
How are thin clients different from traditional PCs?
A thin client is a computer that gets its operating system, applications, and storage resources from centralized servers, unlike a laptop or desktop computer running a full version of Windows and having a significant hard drive installed. Traditionally, these centralized servers would be built on technology pioneered by Citrix, VMware, AWS, and Azure Virtual Desktops.
What are the benefits of using thin clients?
Thin clients can deliver the user experience of a PC, but…
- Are cost-effective. One of the most significant benefits of using thin clients is that they're usually less expensive than their PC counterparts and always less expensive to support in terms of labor.
- Require less space. With many employees working on their laptops or desktops in an open office layout, it can be challenging to ensure that all workspaces have enough room for computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, and peripherals while also keeping them clean and organized (aside from aesthetic reasons). Thin clients take up far less space on your desktop (or mounted under it or behind the monitor) than traditional PC systems do—most only needing an inch or two worth of room for their monitor and keyboard/mouse combo.
- They are typically more secure. Thin clients are typically harder to attack and exploit as little is running on them.
- They are easier to manage, meaning less time and money is spent on IT support and maintenance. Every physical computer or laptop eventually becomes a snowflake and more complicated to support because of drift in applications and configurations on each computer over time. Thin clients don't typically become unique snowflakes because they all get their applications and configurations from a single source.
- Don't put company data at risk if lost or stolen. Thin clients pose little risk as no company data is stored on them.
- Do not have moving parts. With no moving parts, thin clients can work in harsh and remote conditions where a standard computer may fail when clogged with dust, grease, or in an environment that is too hot, causing it to overheat.
How much do thin clients cost?
The cost of thin clients depends on several factors, but primarily comes down to the hardware capability and the onboard software operating system you choose. For example, a good-quality stand-alone PC will be more expensive than a typical thin client and cost more in labor to support. Thin clients offer companies of all sizes a cost-effective way to manage their technology and deliver secure remote access from anywhere in the world.
Who uses thin clients?
Many industries use thin client technology. The following is a list of some of the most common (by no means exhaustive):
- Education – Inexpensive endpoints, like thin clients, make sense because they are not likely to break and do not require much attention to keep them working, so they are easy to support by a small or remote IT staff. Thin clients do not require the monthly updates that a Microsoft or Mac OS might require. They can be swapped easily if damaged, and there is little concern about data if one is lost or stolen.
- Energy – Having no data stored on the thin client is important. But for energy exploration companies, needing reliable computing hardware in the ocean or on-site, drilling for oil in harsh weather conditions, far from civilization, and spare parts, thin clients make sense.
- Financial Services & Banking – Regulated industries, like banks, credit unions, brokerages, etc., can benefit from thin clients because no data actually resides on them, including the data they are compelled to protect.
- Retail – Having hundreds, or even thousands, of locations worldwide is great until you start thinking about supporting all the technology needed to keep the employees at these locations productive. Thin clients can help keep it simple with few things that can break and nothing special that can't be replicated by slapping a new one in place if something goes wrong. Minimal IT support requirements, maximum functionality, quick to replace, and standard in form and function are four strong reasons thin clients make sense for retail.
- Healthcare – Like financial services, healthcare is required to protect what is now the most valuable data available to be stolen – personal data about you. With zero data stored on a thin client and ability to function in very wet environments, thin clients can be near-bullet-proof little tanks that keep working in some of the worst serious trauma situations, and the chemicals in CaviWipes used to clean up spills.
- Government/Defense – Secure. No local data storage and the ability to take a beating in some very harsh conditions are three big reasons why the government likes thin clients. The simplicity of support would be a solid fourth reason.
- Manufacturing – Working well in what can be harsh or dirty conditions in manufacturing plants has been a strong driver for thin clients in manufacturing. Still, resiliency, or the ability to stay running and not slow down the manufacturing process, is often considered one of the most significant benefits.
If you're still wondering if thin clients are right for your business, it's time to take the next step. Thin clients offer a range of benefits and can be more cost-effective than traditional PCs in some cases but need to be paired with DaaS, Citrix, VMware, AWS, or Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktops to realize the benefits. Thin clients are easy to deploy and maintain, so if finding staff has been a concern, thin clients might offer some benefits reducing the stress of maintaining your IT infrastructure. Discover how Whitehat Virtual can help you realize the benefits of thin clients here, then reach out to see how we can help.
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