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Thin Clients - The Re-centralisation Movement

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 - 10:16 PM

This post is all about Thin Client/Terminal Applications and when you might use them. The intended audience is those that are not highly technical and this is more a heads up for the business owner/manager.

If your IT people start mentioning Thin Clients – You will know what they are talking about.

  There are two main setups that meet the “Thin-Client” moniker

  1. Applications delivered from a server through a terminal services delivery mechanism to a regular PC/Workstation.
  3. Applications delivered to a physically small and figuratively “light-weight” workstation called a thin-client.

The Common Case With SMEs

Most people reading this in the SME space will see any Thin-Client implementations they are involved in fit into the first category (Delivered to a regular PC/Workstation). That is going to be the focus of this article.

Those of you old enough to remember the PC clone wars and rise of Compaq as the number 1 PC maker should also remember the likes of Server/Thin Client vendor Novell.

Novell loves Thin-Clients implementations and found a niche in this area after the colapse of NetWare’s Monopoly as the network for business.

Poor old Novell…. But that is another story. Moving companies and schools off Novell was quite the boom business after the Microsoft Domain began to truly dominate with the advent of Server 2000.

The point is
As we always say: The technology itself is not the most important part. It is the implementation and value for the business situation and requirement.

So with that in mind…

When do you implement Thin-Clients?

Remembering that we are assuming that you are in a situation where you already have powerful PC/Workstations on every desk and you have a Small Business Server or similar chugging away as the centre of your businesses universe.

So, in this case, this is how and why, you might go about Thin-Client/Thin Application deployment.

We should start at: Why might you not do it?

Don’t just do it for the sake of it. Don’t just do it because an IT person said you should. Especially don’t do it because a thin client vendor said you should.

We should clarify that when we say don’t do it because an IT person said you should, what we mean is: If a person with no business training and a pedantic love of graphics cards tells you need a technology, what they mean is: I want a new technology to play with.

This doesn’t mean, just say no. The business needs to evaluate the business value and business reason. See below:

Don’t do it because

  • It is the latest technology
  • Business x is doing it
  • I have always wanted to use tech x
  • FAT client technology is old

Do it because

  • It will save money
  • It will improve business services
  • Productivity will increase

We actually personally experienced “FAT Client technology is considered old technology” – That is the stupidest thing I had heard in a long time.

A proven, time honoured, robust and let’s face it dominant technology is not immediately bad because it has been around for a long time.

As succinct as I can be: A technologies value is inherent to the application of that technology.

They were pushing Thin-Client as the hot new technology that was going to make this “old hat” FAT Client stuff finally go and retire…

I have a news flash from 1993 that is going to blow their minds: Thin-Clients have been around since 1993 (by that name) – that seems pretty old in technology terms to me.

That last part might seem a little angry, but trust me, I smiled the whole way through – the point I am making is that this stuff just goes round-and-round-and-round.

One decade it is all Fat Clients (Decentralised), then it is all about thin-clients (Centralised), then it switches again.

See the article: déjà vu – Cloud Computing, Thin Clients, SAAS and Collaborative Business

Back to the main point

Why might you do it? Let’s talk benefits

Thin-Client implementations, when done correctly, can have a massive business and operational benefit. Lowering support time and costs for IT personnel, thus allowing them to concentrate their time on “profit generators”.

We have a great article coming soon called: You’re wasting IT – Wake up and smell the profit. A reminder to businesses that IT can make you more money, but only when you realise it.

Here is a concise list of benefits

  1. Typically Lower application management costs
  3. Increases flexibility in Application availability
  5. Centralises security controls (Normally)
  7. Improves remote access for specific and most commonly (monolithic/FAT) applications

Do we do “Thin-clients” in our business?

Yes. Specifically for cross platform application deployment.


  • MS Project on an Apple Mac. Without Virtualisation.
  • MYOB on Linux
  • Legacy apps on Windows 7

How might you do it?

  1. Identify the actual business case and specific benefits
  3. Establish the operational plan to cover server failure/down-time
  5. Choose from the myriad of vendors – Our top picks:



  7. Find someone to implement it

More questions than answers?

If I have left you with more questions than answers, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The point of pretty much all of my articles is that business and IT should be in unison, they are related, you should only do IT to benefit the business.

Not every IT person can help you with this level of Business/IT integration, that sometimes takes a Business Trained IT Analyst to actually make any sense of it all for the business owner/manager.

The new bread of Business trained IT people are among you. Our business is full of them, and you know what? We do IT different, better and if you want to work with us, you can see that first hand.

Call or Email us and have a chat to John or I (Matt) and you will be glad you did.