Thin client computers, made by HP, Wyse and others, are designed to be dumb. These stripped-down terminals run programs like internet browsers and word processors but store data on central servers (unlike conventional PCs which have their own processors and memory).
So what? By delivering numerous business and environmental advantages, these frugal computing devices are starting to vie with the traditional desktop PC. According to HP, "Thin clients provide a higher level of security, can reduce maintenance costs and consume less electricity compared to other desk-based computing products."
Not just for call centers: Why every company should consider thin clients
Traditionally, thin clients were used for the most basic applications, such as terminals in bank branches or call centers. Now, however, their capabilities have expanded, including to multimedia applications. Mobile thin clients are even available for telecommuters.
The energy savings of thin clients are substantial. Adopters say they are saving 25 to 50% on their energy costs. And in one study by Wyse (another leading manufacturer), the payback period for thin client investments averaged 11 months.
In a related environmental benefit, thin clients last longer and use fewer materials than conventional PCs, meaning less e-waste.
Thin computing's not-so-skinny future
With so many advantages, the future of thin client computing appears bright. IT market research firm IDC expects that the worldwide market will grow from 2.9 million units in 2007 to just over 7 million units in 2012.
The question is, why aren't more companies switching to thin clients? Are we ready to say good-bye to the old-fashioned desktop PC?