Hewlett-Packard brings thin client to feds

Hewlett-Packard Co. last month jumped into the thin-client market with the release of its first Microsoft Corp.'s Windows-based terminal, now available on the General Services Administration schedule.

Windows-based terminals are low-end desktop computers designed to access applications that run on a server rather than locally; they therefore lack disk drives and other features used for local processing.

Thin clients typically are aimed at organizations that run networks with hundreds of users on text terminals and older PCs. The low-end design makes the system inexpensive and easier to manage.

The new system, developed in conjunction with Wyse Technology Inc., costs $611 per unit on the GSA schedule.

The goal of a thin client "is to have a desktop that is extremely simple, extremely secure and very low-cost," said Brent Remai, senior product manager for HP's thin client. "They are specifically for people who are looking to dramatically reduce the cost of ownership."

The market is still relatively new and untried but is expected to grow dramatically, leaving large gaps to be filled by vendors willing to take the plunge, industry analysts said. A study by Zona Research Inc., Redwood City, Calif., found that in 1997 fewer than 350,000 thin clients shipped in the commercial market. Zona projects the market will grow to almost 650,000 units shipped in 1998 and 5.5 million in 2000.

Selling Windows-based terminals manufactured by Wyse might be HP's way of testing the market before jumping in with both feet, said Eileen O'Brien, analyst at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.

HP's release "is a good announcement for the market because HP is a pretty high-profile vendor," O'Brien said. "They have [a] good installed base of legacy systems" that can be upgraded, and HP can offer a complete system, including the terminals, a server and traditional PCs, she said.

The Windows terminal will work in a system with older legacy terminals and PCs, and "for people performing a fixed set of activities that are server-centric...this is an ideal desktop alternative," Remai said.

"For the government, the thin client is ideal for users that would be performing data entry or data lookup," he said. Because it will run Windows off the central server, "it allows textual users to get more access and functionality."

At the same time, however, "a key benefit is you can set the terminal up so that it boots up looking like a text terminal or set it up so it boots [up] looking like a PC," he said. "This gives [users] the familiarity."

The HP terminal supports all applications running on Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server with Citrix Systems Inc.'s MetaFrame or WinFrame server software.

Wyse, HP's partner in this venture, is already a major thin-client manufacturer. In the past, HP has offered only its NetStation X terminal, which is a Unix-based terminal, and the NetVectra NetPC, a Java-based network computer.

"This is a cost-effective device not only on the purchase end...but over the life of the device you should save incredible dollars," O'Brien said. "Upgrading an entire network [of desktops] is very costly and very time-consuming," but if everybody is using a terminal, all IS has to do is upgrade the server and everyone is affected.

Another factor to consider is security.

"Within a government installation, it's an extremely secure device," O'Brien said. Because there is no floppy drive in a terminal, "there is no way to get into the system and corrupt it."

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.