The Death of the PC

IT Solutions that WorkSM


Those of you old enough to be around during the early days of the computing industry (like your author) will remember the venerable dumb terminal. It was a simple but solid & stable device that supported text input and connected to the mainframe via a modem or before that an 'acoustic coupler'. It did not have a disk drive or other peripherals. Maintenance costs were zero.

Contrast this to current situation in which one of the more significant IT costs to organizations of all sizes, is the support of endpoint devices, namely workstations, desktops, laptops, and netbooks. Even if properly secured and administered, things do go wrong for a multitude of reasons including: operating system vulnerabilities, constant patching, patches that break other applications, users downloading virus laden applications and so forth. Furthermore, the costs of anti-virus and firewall licenses, office suites licenses, operating system licenses adds to the total cost of ownership equation.

By why do we need them anymore? The answer is, in most cases you don't. Using the healthcare industry as an example, it has been moving steadily towards a centralized server based computing (SBC) model by putting their core EHR and practice management applications on server(s) running windows Remote Desktop (formerly Terminal Services) or Citrix XenApp. We have also seen this same schema in the insurance and financial services industry. Even the office suites have migrated to the server environment. To the user, it still looks the same as the desktop has the same look and feel as their old pc/laptop. There are two ways to do SBC: desktop virtualization or hosted shared. You can read more about this here.

From maintenance standpoint, instead of managing and trouble shooting endpoint devices for multiple users, you instead need only manage a couple of servers. Patching, licensing, backup and recovery, are all several orders of magnitude easier.

So why does the reliance upon expensive laptops and PCs continue if all the desktops and applications can now reside on the corporate servers? The answer is complex. We have talked to several customers and get a numerous answers, but in general they fall into two buckets: 1) we run high graphics intensive design software and 2) it is just habit and we do not know any better. The first answer is only partially valid, the second is matter of education. We can answer both questions by a brief discussion of Thin Clients.

Thin Client Devices - What are they?

Thin clients are a cost efficient and energy saving alternative to PC workstations. Today's thin clients are used to access a wide array of office applications and CRM tools, as well as demanding videos and multimedia presentations or digital dictation solutions, and much more. They increase data security and compliance with laws and regulations like HIPPA, as sensitive data is not stored locally, and the use of USB-ports can be managed remotely by the administrator.

Thin clients come without fans or rotating hard drives, which means they are much more quiet and reliable than PCs and increase the overall availability of IT resources while reducing downtime, licence and maintenance costs. The low energy consumption reduces costs and CO2 emissions compared to PCs. Together with an efficient central sever based management of all local thin client settings, they offer a quick return on investment. Cloud computing (private and public), server based computing (hosted shared and virtual desktops) all becomes economically favorable when cost-efficient thin clients replace PCs. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of the IT infrastructure is decreased significantly.

Iz1Thin Client OSs are tiny embedded Operating Systems (OS) that essentially only contain graphics and network connectivity engines and client firmware to connect to Microsoft Remote Desktop (formerly Terminal Services) and Citrix clients. That is it. No hard drives to crash, corrupt, or get infected, no anti-virus or firewall license, no operating system that needs a bunch of patches every Tuesday. They are simple, small and very fast.

True story: when we set the first of these thin clients devices one up at a customer, we walked in, unpacked, plugged it in, hooked up the key board wyse-v-seriesand dual monitors set the address of their terminal Sever then announced to our customer contact we were done and leaving. Her jaw dropped. "That's it?" She asked? And that was it: only 20 minutes from start to finish and we have not touched it since. Typically it took us several hours to deploy a new workstation customizing the anti-virus, firewall, and other custom images. No more. We have deployed these in several industries now including healthcare, insurance and financial services.

Here is a great article from Forbes about the Death of the PC

Still need Windows? Now we always get the statement that it will not work because "we need to run a few custom applications on the end-user device and need the Windows Operating System (OS)". No problem as thin computing products have versions with an embedded Windows operating system.

Solutions for Old PCs? Do you have old PCs and on a tight budget. Again, several vendors have PC extender OS software extends the life of legacy PC 'capital assets' by reconfigure them as fully-optimized thin clients, which in turn, also eliminates expensive support and management costs.

What is BYOD

Bring your own device (BYOD) is nothing more than letting employees connect to the corporate I assets with their own devices. This typically means a smart phone, tablet or even their on PC. What is driving this are a few things 1) the outdated and sorry state of existing corporate assets, 2) young workers who are used to fast and thin client devices and cringe at using that old lumbering PC, and most importantly 3) the advent of thin client computing in conjunction with the centralized desktop model. The centralized desktop computing model is really the enabler of this trend. And if done right, it answers the major concern of BYOD, which is security.

Please Contact us learn more about Thin Client solutions and which is the best fit for your organization!

We just don't talk about IT, we get IT done.SM