Thin clients a malware-free desktop option


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The Payoff
The centralized architecture has dramatically cut IT costs for hardware and support for 150 PCs. "That's 150 fewer chances for something to break. We now have six Citrix servers that I update for 150 people," Barter says. "That's six updates versus 150."

While that efficiency is considerable in itself, it doesn't count the hours that Barter and his team spend imaging and installing PCs, the ongoing support and maintenance, and eventual secure disposal. In addition, the refresh cycle is longer. "With PCs, there is a replacement cycle of about 18 months. With thin clients, we have six years at least. So there's more than a doubling of the hardware ROI right there," he says. And each thin client doesn't require antivirus, firewall or licensing for a full-blown endpoint security suite.

The new architecture also is valuable in the event of a potential disaster. "Disaster recovery is critical anywhere, but it's especially so anywhere along a coastline," Barter says. "The fact that you can redeploy an office with traditional PCs in a matter of hours versus days, or a week, is a big deal. Imagine if you had to move an office 100 miles inland, to where connectivity was available. With this architecture, that would entail a few hours of driving, then a couple of hours of setup, and you'd quickly have a fully functional office. There's no way to pull that off in the fat client/server world."

Gartner's Margevicius says those

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savings are typical of thin client deployments. "Something around 45 percent of all PC costs are a result of user action--installing bad drivers, downloading viruses and spyware, just generally breaking the system. And they end up rebooting six times a day just to get their system up and running. That's a big problem, and these are really big costs that you avoid when you move to server-based computing," he says.

This was first published in March 2007

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