Thin clients and virtualisation could save planet

Thin clients and virtualisation could help save the environment, according to an independent report carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute.

The Institute claims that thin clients in a virtual desktop environment are up to 63 per cent less harmful to the environment than traditional personal computers.

Installations of thin clients from IGEL Technology with virtual desktops based on Vmware View at a Dutch healthcare organisation showed a 47 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, while an installation of Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop at Fraunhofer itself led to a global warming potential rating that was between 30 and 63 per cent lower than standard workstations.

The study analysed the emissions from the IGEL thin clients over their entire lifecycle, which spanned several years. Average CO2-equivalent emissions for a medium-level user are 417kg for a conventional workstation, while thin clients came in at 156kg.

The majority of greenhouses gases are emitted during operation, the report states, with between 61 per cent and 77 per cent seeping into the atmosphere in this phase. Only between 17 per cent and 28 per cent are emitted during production, showing that the largest savings can be made during the operation.

“Our conclusion from the study is that thin clients are definitely more environmentally-friendly and cost effective than the desktop PC,” said Christian Knermann, deputy head of IT management at the Fraunhofer Institute.

“From an IT point of view, desktop virtualization is a prudent extension of the terminal server model, which provides for particularly demanding user scenarios in an efficient and environmentally conscious way. The integration of both technologies ultimately allows us optimal capacity utilization of our server hardware.”

thinq_ editor, Paul Hales, was doubtful about the Fraunhofer Institute's claims. With his usual elegance, he said: “Save the planet my arse.”