Why Thin Is In Again...Thin Computing That Is

After graduating from college, I took my first job with an insurance company. On my desk I had a phone and an IBM “dumb” terminal connected to a large, centralized mainframe. With the introduction of the PC in the early 1980s, dumb terminals were quickly replaced by the more powerful desktop and laptop computers. Their local hard drives allowed for easy installation of added software, and their portable disc drives allowed for transportation of documents and data.

Although users enjoyed the freedom and flexibility gained by moving to the PC environment, companies incurred higher administrative costs, lost control of data and corporate security was jeopardized. Then the Internet came along, giving PC users access to unlimited information but subjecting companies to more serious security issues like hacking, viruses and spamming. With the ability to download software, music, instant messaging programs, etc., PCs continued to reduce security and make corporate networks highly vulnerable. This may explain why companies are looking to get thin again.

With broadband Internet access becoming more readily available, and with advances in networking software, “thin client” computing provides the best of both worlds – a rich, full-featured Windows desktop environment delivered more securely and cost-effectively. “Thin clients” connect to a server or group of servers, where they can access an array of corporate software, data and networked directories without storing any applications directly on the device. Consequently, companies have a more stable and secure environment with control at the corporate level, minimizing system vulnerabilities and standardizing networks. Terminal services, a much improved component already included with modern Microsoft operating systems, gives a PC or laptop the ability to connect to the network as well, without storing any software on the machine. So telecommuters and road warriors have the same secured access to their corporate desktops from any Internet connection. And if a PC or laptop is lost or stolen, nothing is lost except the device. The user would simply login from another machine and access his/her desktop, applications, data and corporate resources.

Fortune 500 companies have the means to more easily adopt thin client solutions. With recent headlines about missing laptops containing sensitive customer and personnel records, and estimated cost savings of 10% – 40% in computer management costs, a shift towards thin clients is already underway. IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell recently stated in the Wall Street Journal “people have recognized if you start to centralize this stuff and more tightly manage it, you can reduce your cost and reduce the security-related issues, because you have fewer things to monitor.”

Small- and medium-sized businesses often lack the expertise and resources needed to implement this level of sophisticated technology. That’s why companies like ITonCommand have developed a simple, affordable hosted desktop solution to host and manage your entire corporate desktop and network in state-of-the-art facilities. All you need is an Internet connection, and you can boil your IT down to a simple pay-as-you-go system just like cable T.V. It’s really that easy.

Fifteen years have passed since that first job and I now work for a leading-edge technology firm. On my desk, I have a phone and a “thin client.”

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