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VDI and the thin client 20 years on

The end of 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of thin clients, and over the last two decades we’ve seen an evolution from the first Windows terminals developed by Wyse, to the fully functioning, high powered systems deployed across multiple industries today.

In the age of ubiquitous mobile devices, do thin clients still have a role to play within modern day IT infrastructures, and are organisations still benefitting from their use within a virtualised client framework?

For industries where mouse, keyboard and monitor functionality is essential for day to day work, the answer is ‘yes’. The majority of employees continue to sit in front of traditional desktops, and thin clients support their working practices, whilst being the easiest form of PC to deploy and manage.

Modern day employees also want to be mobile – whether en route to work or when moving freely around a large working environment - with constant access to their corporate IT. Thin clients can help solve this issue, freeing data and applications from under the desk and enabling employees to move seamlessly from place to place, with constant access to their applications and desktop functionality whenever they need it.

Client virtualisation projects, including virtual desktops (VDI), which incorporate thin clients also enhance security. In an age of ever-increasing cyber threats, complex systems at the edge of the network are the most vulnerable, by moving complexity to the datacentre, where it can be more effectively managed and protected, simplifies and strengthens security. The best thin clients are virus immune, eliminating the need for additional software security at the edge of the network, and centralised data also protects IP, enabling organisations to take advantage of contractors and provide them with access to the corporate network, without risk of compromising their most valuable asset – data.

The IT benefits of thin clients are also clear. The desktops can be deployed and managed centrally minimising deskside visits and reducing security alerts. The Israeli Electric Company found that, following their VDI deployment, security alerts reduced from 100 per day to just eight per month. This significantly reduced the maintenance levels for the infrastructure, allowing the IT team to spend more time on delivering new solutions for the business.

Finally, despite supporting multiple monitors and the most high performance graphics - including 3D - thin clients have excellent environmental credentials. By enabling up to a 90 per cent reduction in power consumption compared to traditional PCs, thin clients remain some of the most energy-efficient desktops on the market even when additional datacentre infrastructure is taken into account.

Today, with faster internet speeds, flexible working practices and mobile devices capable of running multiple company applications, there can be no doubt that client virtualisation incorporating thin clients is an enabler for organisations across a range of industries. It increases security and data protection, enhances user experience and enables companies to be more nimble in their IT approach, as solutions are more scalable and employee usage needn’t be tied to one location.

With 20 years of innovation behind them, thin clients continue to provide all levels of user with a better experiences. They remain a pivotal IT solution for industries across the world, and will do for many years to come.

David Angwin, Marketing Director, EMEA, Dell Cloud Client-computing

Image Credit: Goodluz / Shutterstock