Centralised applications and thin desktops are helping many housing associations deliver IT services that are lower coat, more secure and easier to manage. But even within these organisations, there are always users who claim to need a full-fat ‘real PC’.
But do they? Thin computing may have been around for 10 years, but it is still developing rapidly and now delivers solutions that were previously thought impossible. There are four main developments that make thin computing viable for more of the organisation.
Run virtually any application
Desktop virtualisation using VMware VDI technology, or the recently-announced Citrix Xen Desktop, gives each user a full PC environment, but delivered from the server. This enables applications that previously couldn’t be deployed ‘thin’ to be delivered easily. It also gives users the same capabilities and freedom that they get on a PC. The advantage for the IT department is that it is still centrally delivered and managed, with all the resulting cost and support benefits.
Support mobile users
The flexibility to take a computer into a meeting, or for field staff to have access to IT when meeting tenants, makes the laptop PC the obvious choice for many staff. Now thin clients are available in laptop form which allow access to centralised applications through wi-fi or mobile connections. Furthermore, as thin-client laptop contains no data, the issue of sensitive data being lost in the event of the laptop being lost or stolen doesn’t arise.
The need to view video or listen to audio on a computer is becoming increasingly important. Modern VoIP phone systems often send emails containing voice-mail messages, employee training and communications are increasingly video-based, and many field staff find that videos and images recorded on digital cameras or mobile phones are an invaluable way to record and communicate information. To meet this increased multimedia use, Wyse has developed innovative software that allows multimedia to work on a thin client in the same way as a PC.
Enable plug and play peripherals
After multimedia, the most-requested feature for thin clients is the facility to plug in devices such as USB memory sticks, PDAs, CD-ROM drives and digital cameras. But this must be achieved without consuming a lot of IT time, and provide control over which devices work and which remain blocked. As with multimedia, this can now be achieved via new software that virtualises the USB ports on the thin client, requires no local device drivers, and provides IT staff with granular control over device usage.
If you are looking at how you can deliver the best, most cost-effective, and most secure IT service; ask yourself the question: do my staff really need PCs?
David Angwin is director of marketing (EMEA) for Wyse Technology.