Web extra: When thin isn’t in

Thin clients are not for everyone.

Although a number of market factors favor thin clients’ revival, many organizations are still staying away. Budget issues and competing technologies are among the obstacles that thin clients face.

Customers who have made significant investments in laptops, for example, may not be willing to spring for thin clients. “A transition from desktop PCs to notebooks could further impede thin-client penetration in the enterprise,” according to an IDC report.

Javier Vasquez, infrastructure architect at Microsoft Federal, said customers may use a laptop as a mobile workstation and an access point for Terminal Services, Microsoft’s software that supports the server-based computing model used by some thin clients.

In addition, midsize organizations may determine that the server-side management costs of thin-client computing outweigh the desktop maintenance savings. Vasquez said Citrix is putting together programs for midsize organizations, aiming to provide easier management.

Jeffery Shiflett, assistant director of information technologies for York County, Pa., said the thin-client model suits most of the county’s needs. Applications from office automation to custom financial and tax assessment software are all delivered to thin clients via the Citrix Presentation Server. Graphically intense applications, such as geographic information systems, are the only ones that haven’t been rolled into Citrix. Shiflett said he believes those applications could be made available via Citrix, too, but he added that the county hasn’t had the need to do so.

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