written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 3/11/2011
Problems with using thin clients exist that can frustrate the deployment of thin clients in the business environment. By preparing for those problems in advance, however, companies can make sure that their move to thin client computing is one that facilitates rather than limits their mission.
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Thin client computing is not always a drop-in replacement for traditional models, meaning that careful assessment of existing requirements and planning for the adoption of thin clients is required to avoid disappointing inadequacies in a newly deployed network.
Because thin clients often rely on the network for everything they need, the importance of the network in a thin client environment is extremely important. From furnishing thin client operating systems to applications and data storage, the role of the network is vital to making thin client computing successful.
Every time a network connection breaks or slows down, thin client users are disabled. There's no finishing up a Word document while the IT people figure out what went wrong. In short, a network outage means that every thin client user can do nothing at all until the problem is repaired.
The problem with thin clients and network integrity can easily be addressed through redundant connections and servers that can minimize the impact of service disruptions.
Another aspect of network integrity deals with bandwidth. Because all system I/O and video is sent across the network, enough bandwidth must be in place to accommodate thin client users. Companies that are unwilling to invest in the necessary infrastructure to support the high demands of thin client computing set themselves up for potentially serious productivity lapses.
Some programs are not designed to run on application servers that service thin clients. Because of this, businesses may find themselves boxed in with limited options for mission critical software. Before engaging an effort to implement a thin client network, managers should thoroughly investigate the software options the company has to make sure its hands will not be tied as part of its green initiative.
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Thin client environments can require professional skills that are outside the purview of most IT staffers. This could mean that businesses implementing this type of computing model may have to spend a lot of money hiring those who are competent in the field. Of course, companies can send their existing personnel for training updates, but that too can be very expensive.
Companies that hesitate to equip themselves with the technical literacy required to support the thin client environment may become disillusioned with their green computing strategy seeing that the results they get from it are disappointing.
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Although many thin clients such as those that run Wyse TCX USB Virtualizer and similar solutions now feature USB redirection through virtualized ports, many do not, making it difficult to create local copies of files when the need arises. Users with a strong need for local storage may sometimes require a full-blown PC to accommodate their work and to avoid persistent distractions for IT personnel. Such a need for removable media often start the slippery slope of an organization away from thin client computing as frustrated IT staffers supply high demand workers with PCs.
A thorough assessment of removable media requirements should be made before thin clients are deployed to make sure that businesses implement operating systems and hardware that can accommodate organizational needs.
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Rather than pretending that thin clients are a pain-free path to green computing, cost savings, and security, managers should be open about the disadvantages with using thin clients and address them on the front end to make sure that either an adequate thin client network is in place or that the switch to thin clients is ruled out because of insurmountable issues.
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"Products and services", http://www.wyse.com/products/software/tcx/index.asp