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Thin Clients vs. Desktop Workstations

Many of our clients are curious about whether transitioning from desktop PC workstations to thin clients can benefit their business. Thin clients are devices that function as an interface between a server and the workstation enabling the user to access the applications, desktop environments, documents, and data that are stored on networked servers. Thin clients allow for a desktop environment to be run on the server and remotely displayed on the desktop screens of the thin clients. This allows a business to either re-purpose aging PC hardware or buy cheaper alternatives, by leveraging the processing power of the servers. In traditional workstation setups the processing is all done on the client.

While thin clients are not a perfect fit for every company they convey many benefits when implemented correctly. There are many areas to consider when comparing thin clients to desktop workstations. Three of the biggest areas to consider are costs, manageability, and security. Thin clients come out ahead of traditional workstations in most cases.

Costs

Thin clients provide significant cost savings over traditional PC work stations. Although PC prices have come down significantly, thin clients are still competitively priced while providing significant cost savings in maintenance and administrative costs. Thin clients are easier to maintain and lack many of the parts that commonly fail in a traditional PC. They also save in maintenance and IT costs because they are managed and updated from a central data center eliminating the need for maintenance on individual computers.

Manageability

Thin clients are managed from a central data center eliminating many of the issues that arise when trying to keep individual computers updated, backed up, and secure. Products like Citrix VDI-In-A-Box, XenDesktop or VMWare’s Horizon View allow for easy manageability and deployment of new desktops.

Security

With a thin client, data is only stored on a central server eliminating the risk of data being compromised if a computer or thin client is stolen or lost.  Because thin clients are centrally managed, it is easier to monitor system access and prevent viruses or malware from entering the network.

Additional Considerations

The chart below details the comparison between thin clients and traditional PC workstations in multiple areas. The thin clients come out ahead in most areas showing why they may be an excellent change for many businesses who are trying to save IT costs and improve manageability of their workstations.

Thin Clients vs Workstations