Year of the Thin Client?

This installment of "On the Mark" originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

2008 is the year that CIOs will finally embrace thin clients. So argues Stephen Yeo, worldwide marketing director at thin-client maker IGEL Technology GmbH in Bremen, Germany. He backs up that assertion with five reasons.

First, virtual PCs can now run all the software users need. Thin clients tethered to terminal services technology are unable to run about 10% of all programs on the market, Yeo estimates. But with virtual PCs, that barrier is eliminated.

Stephen Yeo

Second, compatibility problems with PC peripherals are a thing of the past, Yeo claims. Thin clients today have industry-standard connectors such as USB.

Third, a thin client, complete with its server and associated components, uses less than half the energy of a PC, according to the Fraunhofer Institute, also in Bremen.

Fourth, unless you're doing video editing on your desktop, anything beyond a quad-core CPU is overkill. But multicore CPUs are great for virtual PCs and thin clients, Yeo asserts.

Finally, IT has plenty of Windows XP licenses that can be moved to virtual environments. CIOs get to keep a beloved operating system and do some software recycling in the process.

Those may be reason enough to explain why Credit Suisse upped its growth projection for thin clients in 2008. And maybe, just maybe, a thin client will be on a desktop near you soon -- perhaps your own.

Persistent PC Goodness

If thin clients don't march onto your companies' desktops this year, you can at least undo all the dumb things users do, from downloading dubious files to changing critical settings, claims Ken Fitzpatrick, chief marketing officer at Persystent Technology Corp. in Tampa, Fla.

The Persystent Enterprise Suite (PES) works during the preboot stage. According to Fitzpatrick, an agent in the boot process takes a quick glance into a partition that's invisible to the end user to see if anything has changed. If something is different from what you had set, PES reverts the PC to the desired state. PES never touches user data. "It guarantees a healthy PC every time you turn it on," boasts Fitzpatrick. And PES works whether a user is online or off.

Next month, Persystent will add support for Windows Vista and offer integration with whole-disk encryption tools. Fitzpatrick says the company plans support for Linux, Macintosh and other operating systems. Pricing starts at $20 per year per device.

On-Demand Integration

Simon Peel acknowledges that "90% of SaaS integration is with on-premises applications," but he still sees a need for an appliance for SaaS-to-SaaS integration.

Peel is senior vice president of marketing and business strategy at Cast Iron Systems Inc., which makes appliances that are preconfigured for app-to-app integration. This month, the Mountain View, Calif., company released one that links your service to your NetSuite on-demand app.

The appliance comes ready with API compatibility between the services. If you've done customization to either, Cast Iron's visual-mapping tool helps link those changes.

Whether you run it in your data center or as a service, it starts at $1,500 per month.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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