Remember those blocky, retro-looking input-output devices that looked like computers but were actually thin client terminals? If you don’t, that is because PCs have evolved significantly since the 1980s, breathing new life into the thin client.
For those not familiar with the thin client, they are the small computer-like terminals which depend on the server for many of their computational roles, such as storage and data processing, meaning they are highly flexible in the work environment and easy for companies to manage.
Today, instead of connecting to mainframes, thin clients connect to secure servers and data centres. With the decline in the traditional desktop solutions, customers are shifting client computing to the cloud which is delivering other benefits like data security, availability and significantly reduced management costs.
The thin client has been around for over 30 years and is the reliable and trusted technology we’ve all come to know as the driving force behind server-based computing and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Two decades later, it remains easy-to-manage, energy-efficient and inherently secure. In 2016 and beyond, the use cases will expand as cost and complexity for VDI continues to diminish, and security concerns continue to rise.
Here are the top three cloud client-computing trends to know about:
It’s game on for mid-market and SMBs
In the past, while many organisations recognised the security, mobility and management benefits of VDI, it was not very accessible for mid-market organisations and SMBs due to the cost and complexity of deploying a VDI infrastructure. With the maturity of hyper-converged appliances that take the guesswork out of VDI, it’s now possible for IT generalists and desktop specialists to deploy and maintain an entire end-to-end solution. The time from planning to being up-and-running has been reduced dramatically from months to just a few weeks, and the cost per seat has decreased to as low as $400.
The push for new solutions driven by mobility trends
Mobility introduced in the workplace is a great way to improve productivity but it’s difficult to manage and secure. Not only do mobility programs require data to travel between more locations and across multiple devices, but they also increase the potential of lost or stolen devices as well as data breaches. While many businesses are turning to data-centric security solutions to enable their newly mobile workplaces, a number of organisations in highly regulated industries are turning to an easier, architectural approach. Desktop virtualisation has the ability to securely deliver applications and data to corporate-provided, personally owned devices, and thin clients placed in areas from conference rooms to clean rooms. This is a good way to provide heightened security in a cost effective and easy-to-manage way.
One industry where we see VDI adoption rapidly increasing is healthcare. Doctors are increasingly using their own devices in hospitals and medical offices or on call to access electronic medical records (EMR). Of course, the nursing and clinical staff need to access the EMRs as well, so VDI offers a way to meet these needs while guaranteeing HIPAA compliance. VDI is an especially powerful in this environment, since it is not affected by the security status of the devices being used by workers, since, in essence, it turns those devices into simple screens and keyboards to the server-based applications. This significantly reduces the issues IT has to consider when working with so many different devices.
Security at the forefront
According to Dell, 95 per cent of attacks on enterprise systems came from the client side. Hence, as executives have begun to realise the impact a data breach can have on their business, implementing an inherently secure infrastructure has become more of a priority.
For many businesses, this has taken various approaches. For workplaces where traditional laptop infrastructures make sense, ensuring critical data is secured and devices equipped with the latest advanced malware prevention solutions has become paramount.
However, many businesses are also realising that to be productive, their employees need secure access to data in a variety of locations and scenarios. This is driving demand for the most secure thin client devices, which ensures devices remain virus and malware resistant through an unpublished API and zero attack surface.
While thin clients may be 20 years old, they offer benefits that are perhaps better suited for today’s market than we’ve ever seen before. Whether it’s reducing infrastructure costs, leveraging VDI to allow for greater freedom in BYOD programs, or the need for greater security and compliance in highly regulated industries, customers are looking for more tailored solutions for their needs.
For businesses looking to roll out a mobility program, or those with typical security needs (regardless of regulatory compliance), VDI remains a good option. VDI and the new digital workspaces it enables, remains a masterful technology solution that can help your customers meet the demands of today’s secure, mobile workforce without overtaxing IT teams or IT budgets.
About the author
Jai Sahney is the General Manager for Dell Cloud Client Computing for South Asia & ANZ