Green guilt boosts thin clients

Green guilt boosts thin clients

Environment concerns behind surge in network technology

The market for thin client technology is getting a major boost from concerns over the environmental impact of computing.

Thin clients, which use a network of terminals controlled from a central server, have been around for many years, but demand has jumped in the past 24 months.

Thin client systems use around 10 per cent of the power of conventional PC systems and produce less waste when retired from service. Such systems also have much longer refresh cycles.

"We have been seeing a real acceleration in the past two years," said David Angwin, senior marketing manager at Wyse Technology.

"Thin client adoption is traditionally a tactical fix, but more organisations are taking a strategic approach and replacing PCs with thin client during refresh cycles."

Recent research by IDC suggests that one in seven new computer installations in the UK incorporated thin clients, and the that technology now accounts for eight per cent of the UK's corporate computers.

Installations in the Nordic countries, however, are approaching 15 per cent, driven largely by lower power costs and reduced upgrade cycles.

Angwin said that one of the hardest markets for thin clients is the Middle East, where the size and power of a computer is seen as proportional to the employee's standing in an organisation.

But there are cultural problems with thin clients in the UK as well. Recruitment firm Reed moved into thin clients in 2005 following a commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

"Users are concerned about a lack of control," said Sean Whetstone, head of IT services at Reed Managed Services.

"People say that they cannot customise their PCs with new wallpaper or load up CDs from FHM magazine. The IT manager is fine with that, as it can reduce risk and protect data."

Whetstone claimed that Reed had saved 188,000KW hours of power, halving the number of storage drives and reducing the number of servers by a factor of 20.