What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Thin Clients and Zero Clients
Diving into Remote App and Desktop Computing
If you are moving or have already made the move to a remote Desktop VDI or Application environment (i.e. Citrix, VMware, Parallels, Microsoft RDP, Workspot, Nutanix Frame or any other), it’s time to rethink your end point hardware strategy.
Because you have centralized and your desktops/applications are running on servers in a public or private cloud, you no longer need hardware that is high in specs and costly.You can also think about removing excess baggage that comes with a very heavy operating system such as Windows, and move to a much lighter one. This may save you a great deal in cost, and make your environment much simpler to manage. Below we will look at some of the major advantages of thin clients and zero clients. If you’d like to know more about the differences between thin and zero clients, we have prepared a comprehensive guide here (link to the other article).
Advantages of thin clients:
- Increased security
- Lightweight OS
- Simple hardware
- Great TCO and ROI
- Less Help Desk Calls
- Less energy
- Centralized Administration
- Less clutter
1. Increased Security
Once you’ve centralized your infrastructure, you can now greatly reduce the risk of your endpoint being a vulnerability point. If you can move to a Linux based thin client operating system, you will have 0 exposure to viruses affecting the device. Thin clients / zero clients do not store data locally and operate on a read only mode, giving you a great level of protection. You still need to make sure that breaches do not take place via your network and different thin client / zero client vendors have varying degrees of supporting you with this. This is a much better option than sticking with a PC that has local data that can be attacked.
2. Lightweight Operating Systems
Thin clients / zero clients tend to run very lightweight operating systems. Usually thin client vendors will only put on a thin client application packages that are required for a proper experience. In contrast, PCs often times have a very expansive operating systems as they must support a wider spectrum of use cases. By moving to remote app and desktop computing, the use cases are better defined and the thin client approach makes ideal sense.
3. Simple Hardware
Thin clients / zero clients do not require the powerful processors that PCs need to run local applications. Depending on the application requirements, a bit more RAM or a better graphics card may make a difference in end user experience for thin clients / zero clients , but still these will remain quite reasonable and economical. thin clients / zero clients are completely quiet as they are fanless and also consume less resources. thin clients / zero clients compared to PCs have an extremely low failure rate.
4. Great TCO and ROI
A big reason why they are often referred to as “dumb terminals” is that thin clients / zero clients can last 8 to 10 years. Once tested and in place, you really don’t have to touch them apart from the occasional updates and configuration changes. This is starkly different to a PC which has a 3 year refresh cycle. When you calculate TCO on a thin client, you should consider at least a 5 year life span. Most thin client vendors will offer support and warranty for 3 years, but this can be extended to 5 years.
By moving to thin clients, you can manage your desktops centrally at no cost. On the contrary, managing thick clients centrally is difficult and expensive.
5. Less Help Desk Calls
thin clients / zero clients end points can greatly reduce support costs as they are extremely reliable and have a very low failure rate. They also come with an endpoint solution which will help in accessing and troubleshooting devices remotely. Helpdesks calls concerning the end point will likely be squashed with the right end point in place.
6. Less Energy
Energy consumption on a thin client is 10 times less than a PC. While a thin client will consume less than 10W/day, a PC tends to consume more than 100W per day. Multiply this by the number of PCs that are running and you can see that not only are you consuming way less energy, the electricity bills will be lower freeing up budgets for other things. Thinclient management tools also often allow for the scheduling of devices to be turned off or put to sleep. This removes a great deal of energy waste when devices are left to run during non-operational hours.
7. Centralized Administration
After centralizing the management of user desktops and applications, you need to also make sure that you centralize the management of your end points. thin clients / zero clients allow just that, and most vendors will offer a management tool to do so. Some will come at a cost and others are included as part of the package. These central management consoles allow administrators to quickly and efficiently configure and stage the devices as well as keep them updated. Many of these tools allow for the remote access of the device so that the administrator can see exactly what is happening in the user session. Configurations and updates can be done remotely, by taking control over user’s workstation : no need to go on site anymore.
Depending on vendors, central management options are sold separately, or only basic features are provided with a thin client. ZeeTim is the only vendor providing you a complete central management platform included with the thin client. As a comparison with PCs, you can always manage local Windows centrally with tools such as Landesk, but with a huge additional cost.
8. Less Clutter
Because of their smaller dimensions, thin clients / zero clients take up less space than a PC. They are usually so small and light that they can be mounted on the back of any VESA compliant monitor. Most thin client vendors offer VESA kits to mount their devices. Once mounted to the back of a monitor the user desk will be very clean and clutter free. There are certain thin client vendors that even provide all in one devices which combine the thin client device and the monitor. Some thin clients / zero clients also support Power over Ethernet (POE) allowing the ethernet cable to double up as an internet connection and power supply.
Not ready to change your hardware?
Perhaps you have newer hardware and are not ready to change your physical end points. You still have the ability to benefit from the great advantages that thin client / zero clients can bring by converting your PCs to a thin client /zero client operating system. This can be an effective way to gain central control of all devices, secure them, and get things ready for when its time to replace the hardware.
Need advice on what type of end point makes sense for you, schedule a FREE consultation with one of our experts. We are thin client vendors but we keep our consultancy general and will never push our devices unless this is requested.
Also check ZeeTransformer to learn how to convert your PCs to thin clients.
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