What is a Thin Client, its Uses and Benefits?

Introduction

At some point, many companies and organizations found it difficult to keep up with managing and maintaining a PC desktop environment. We are all familiar with how PCs create clutter, overuse energy, produce heat and noise and keep IT on their toes. Consider industries like education, healthcare, and banking or intelligence agencies that continue to operate in a traditional fat client setup. The nature of work in such places indicates that delays and downtime simply cannot be afforded. However, what happens if a technical failure occurs? Administrators must visit the endpoint directly to identify the source of the problem before they can do anything else. An example is resolving virus infections where each PC is individually located.

Digital-Innovation

Today, digital innovation has transformed the business world and companies are expected to keep up or fall behind the competition. Organizations are showing a growing interest in IT resources that enable them to promote simplicity and manage several users with ease. More importantly, any solution that minimizes IT threats and problems and allows companies to focus on business strategy is a winner. This is where Thin Client computing comes in.

What is a Thin Client?

Thin Clients are lightweight devices with limited moving parts and few locally stored programs. They connect to servers to perform computational functions and access hard drives in data centers by running remote display protocols. This facilitates on-demand delivery of virtualized desktops and applications to users with time and location independence.  

Thin Client technology is widely regarded as an effective virtual desktop computing model. This is because it is a secure device where programs, applications, memory and sensitive information are stored securely in a data center instead of the device itself. As a result, Thin Clients are viable alternatives to regular PCs for businesses which demand flexibility, energy efficiency, improved data security and longer IT infrastructure lifespan.

Benefits-Thin-Clients

What are the advantages of a Thin Client?

To start with, it is an effective PC replacement technology that facilitates immediate access to virtual desktops and applications and offers centralized computing capabilities. Hardware and software upgrades and application changes can easily be made in the data center. Workplace productivity increases as IT teams do not need to resolve issues at the end user desktop location. Additionally, centralized backup of desktops and client access devices simplify administrator workload.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Sign up for Future Product Announcements and Sales Promotions.

Users cannot copy information to a disk or save it to locations other than the server. Unauthorized software or applications cannot be installed on personal devices which protects companies from malware attacks and data breach attempts. All this safeguards intellectual property and ensures data privacy. Ideally, look for devices that have a Linux-based operating system and automatically receive recommended security updates. They cannot be easily tampered with as Linux is one of the most security-oriented operating systems in the market.

These endpoints represent the most affordable and environmentally sustainable solutions to date. As established, the technology is a server-based computing model which reduces TCO. This is where applications run on a remote backend server and are displayed on desktop devices. Users can access application suites from any device connected to the server without requiring IT to install applications on separate devices. Also, having limited moving parts, low memory, and microprocessor demands, these devices consume approximately 8-20 watts compared to 170 watt PCs. This drastically reduces carbon footprint and companies can reinvest the cost savings from electricity elsewhere.

When it comes to the pros and cons of Thin Clients, this technology does not have any of the latter considering the wide range of benefits it offers.

Case Studies

‘Why Thin Clients are good’ is a frequently asked question in the IT community. Engineered for dynamic performance, they come with top-tier configurations to suit an extensive range of use cases in multiple industries. Let’s analyze some industry-specific scenarios where you must use Thin Clients.

Finance

Finance-Thin-Client

Financial institutions need to abide by strict laws and regulations at all times. Professionals in this line of work implement roles like trading stocks and mortgage underwriting that are often the backbone of an economy. Hence, they depend on solid IT infrastructure to deliver reliable access to real-time data and meet customer needs. Even then, these professionals deal with massive numerical databases on a daily basis. In this scenario, there are far-reaching consequences of using PCs to manage workloads: compromised workstation security and performance.

As a result, adhering to core security compliance policies and maximizing uptime are top priorities. In order to achieve this, the key is to centrally manage and deliver key applications and banking systems to users. Why is this so?

Imagine a virtualized workplace where all data, applications, and desktops remain secure in a data center. In this scenario, information is not distributed to individual workstation PCs. Instead, it is saved in a central location which users can access anywhere and anytime. For example, banking officers often undertake travel to meet clients or prospects and deliver a briefing on their products. These users are no longer bound to desktop computers that demand time-consuming local maintenance, patching, and support. IT can use management software to configure connection settings based on username, department or the Thin Client supporting the VDI environment. In this way, the administration involved with managing roaming users is minimized.

On-site professionals also benefit because this simplifies common activities such as performing financial documentation and managing customer profiles. Also, IT can easily create a standardized client environment with remote management from the back office, front office and head office. This increases the availability, operational continuity and data integrity of the overall IT environment in banks and trading floors where safeguarding quantitative data drives business success.  

Tip 1: ideally, select Linux-based terminal devices to fulfill rigorous security mandates in finance. An equally important decision is the remote desktop protocol like VMware® Horizon® Blast, PCoIP, Citrix HDX and Microsoft® Windows® RDP that communicates with terminal servers. The good thing: these endpoints come with many flavors of operating systems which can be used for business-critical applications without sacrificing the benefits of centralized and holistic management.

ClearCube’s CD8851 model works well in this sector. The device supports ClearCube Cloud Desktop OS, Windows® 10 IoT, and Linux® operating systems. The Cloud Desktop OS also integrates optimized applications for all core remote networking protocols.

Following are a couple of examples of what this endpoint can do for IT environments in finance:

  • Boost data and hardware security by removing local disks to reduce opportunities for theft and misuse.
  • Implement browser-based desktop management with real-time monitoring, asset management, and job scheduling.

Tip 2: financial specialists simply cannot afford any delays or downtime in their workflows. While adopting Thin Clients is a smart and secure move, always keep a proactive backup solution to deal with unexpected tech errors. Luckily, there are many platforms which you can utilize to add to the security benefits of Thin Clients.

For example, ClearCube Sentral™ is the only virtual desktop software to facilitate IT a single interface to manage their entire infrastructure. Features like virtual desktop management, resource allocation, active health monitoring, and blade switching and sparing allows users to achieve server-level availability for their devices. The dashboard keeps administrators updated about the status of their IT environments by monitoring and displaying information related to servers, desktops, virtual machines, Blade PCs and Thin Clients. All this delivers up to 99.9% uptime in time and mission-critical workspaces like financial institutions. Based on the metrics provided by Sentral, administrators can always configure the VDI clients to perform at the optimal level.

Education

School-Thin-Client

In this digital era, organizations are showing a growing interest in more secure, efficient and cost-effective IT solutions. This is especially so, considering that expensive PCs and their high TCO make it difficult for businesses to stay within budget. The same goes for educational institutions that impart knowledge and skills to prepare students for the practical world. So, it is important for students and teachers alike to have readily accessible technology that facilitates a dynamic learning environment.

Today, using PCs is questionable in academic institutions where activities like annual enrollments increase the user count. After all, updating computers with the latest software and programs is a time-consuming process and one that affects productivity. This can contribute to poor academic performance and ultimately, unsatisfactory results. Hence, it makes sense to consider affordable and collaborative technology like VDI that allows IT to create simple, secure and centrally manageable infrastructure. This helps teachers and students focus on important deliverables rather than having them waste time on reporting and troubleshooting IT issues. Choosing Thin Clients to support virtualization further helps schools and colleges do more with less, including:

Building Immersive Experiences

Any IT solution that makes learning more interactive is a winner. Thin Client devices offer a PC-like experience with complete multimedia and web browser support for high-demand environments. For example, ClearCube’s devices are engineered to facilitate the best possible performance in VDI deployments. These endpoints support the latest protocols like PCoIP, Blast Extreme and HDX and are optimized for modern desktop technologies including VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft. They come with multiple configuration options and are custom-crafted to meet the demands of all teacher and student groups. Let’s consider some examples.

Task-based users in primary school generally access a small set of applications and have limited computing requirements. They can go for a basic model like the Raspberry Pi 3 endpoint. This device facilitates high-performance, single monitor configurations in VMware Horizon and other VDI setups. Similarly, knowledge users at the intermediate level would need options that deliver a higher level of functionality. Models that offer basic multimedia features and provide multitasking capabilities work well for this group. Furthermore, there are versions which offer heavier processor usage and run multiple applications for power users like students conducting extensive fieldwork and research.

In any case, make a list of endpoint needs to determine if it suits a specific student or teacher user group. Remember that the ideal device is a single, comprehensive solution that provides everything from simple plug-and-play features to reliable hardware.

Achieving End-To-End Control

VDI has a clear use case for remote students. There are no client sites in an academic institution and students can access applications by logging into their virtual desktops at home or while commuting. A VDI environment supported by Thin Clients also provides quality administrative controls. In turn, this delivers secure virtual desktop computing for classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and auditoriums.

These clients also simplify instructor workload and facilitate transparency in teaching. In a learning environment, it is important to ensure that students only access the necessary coursework applications. Even then, it is challenging for teachers to track all the applications that students use. Thin Client devices provide the flexibility to make unit-based customization’s depending on student profiles. This ensures that students do not waste their time accessing applications that have nothing to do with their lesson plans. Moreover, as information is stored on a central server, IT can effortlessly recover teacher files and student assignments in the event of technical failure. This allows the institution to follow their yearly timeline without any internal delays and deficits.

Healthcare

Healthcare-Thin-Client

Healthcare specialists demand the same easy mobility and secure IT environment like users in other industries as they almost always make critical decisions. So, when these professionals boot up a screen from a device of their choice, the desktop presented must consistently deliver applications and data needed to serve patients. The same can be said for the increased usage of mobile devices which many professionals use for transferring patient files. As a result, these users need highly secure and reliable digital workspaces, whether they are in the main hospital, a remote site, home clinic or managing EMR/EHR systems. They also demand IT solutions offering security controls which promote data integrity and safeguard sensitive patient information.

Taking this into account, the healthcare sector has special requirements where solutions must demonstrate security, reliability, responsiveness, and preparedness for integration with hospital systems. So, the nature of work in hospitals is such that centralized data and network management must be prioritized. Hence, adopting virtualization powered by Thin Client technology is a feasible consideration. This is because improvements in hardware abilities and management software and streamlining of remote display protocols have boosted its capabilities. These are crucial developments in healthcare because of the benefits it brings, including:

Improved Mobility

Healthcare specialists are always on the go. They are doctors who check on patients from room to room or administrative staff that manages multiple units in the same hospital. Also, medical practitioners are often contacted to deal with emergency situations even when they are off-duty. As a result, they can only work in highly accessible and flexible environments which regular PCs cannot provide.

Thin Client devices promote mobility as information remains secure in the datacenter and can be accessed remotely. Users only need to connect to their personal desktops from any endpoint that is connected to the server hosting their data. Regardless of location, once they enter their credentials into that specific endpoint, they are almost instantly presented with the required remote desktop. This is a crucial feature in an industry where users making their rounds always need easy and on-demand access to critical patient information. For instance, IT must be able to configure access to roaming workflows where doctors can safely log in to desktops from roaming devices with a simple tap of a badge.

Better Patient Data Security

The need for data security cannot be emphasized enough as IT vulnerabilities are a growing concern. Cyber attacks are a major cause of IT frustration and anxiety, given the extent of loss or damage they could cause. Fortunately, Thin Client software from reliable vendors like ClearCube come with built-in security features that maintain multiple layers of protection and are fully TAA compliant. Our endpoints deliver improved security by locking down the desktop which minimizes the risk of data hacking and phishing. This is a proactive measure against cyber crimes such as man-in-the-middle and DoS attacks.

Low-Cost and Efficient Management

It is not uncommon to find healthcare institutions that offer services with predefined operating budgets. Hence, they might want to preserve their legacy investment by looking for affordable alternatives to replacing desktop computers. Luckily, advanced technology such as ClearCube PC Repurposing Software offers a competitive and low-cost way to consolidate aging PC endpoints into Thin Client terminals which can connect to any remote computer or backend system. Users will still receive all the advantages of VDI on their PCs and save money over buying new computers or supporting products. Other benefits include:

  • Simple setup and centralized management.
  • Improved flexibility and security.
  • Desktop future-proofing.
  • Single OS for all hardware (Thin Clients, PCs, and laptops).
  • Automatic client updates across the network.
  • Multiple connection protocol support including VMware® PCoIP & Blast Extreme, Microsoft® RemoteFX and many more.

All this helps healthcare institutions reduce the complexity of switching to a full-fledged VDI setup especially if they are not prepared for one. This innovative ClearCube solution offers the opportunity to reinvest cost savings into other areas such as advanced patient care, better hospital facilities etc.

Closing Remarks

The powerful, modern and intuitive experience which Thin Clients promise across industries have set new standards for customer expectations of client devices. The ultimate endpoint is always a well-connected, high security and low-maintenance device which offers clients a convenient option to deploy virtual environments. For a personalized recommendation based on your unique business model, please contact a ClearCube expert today.

Contact Us
Contact Us