High-end computing back in the day required large computers that used to take up a lot of space, adding to a lot of investment. Thin clients were introduced to move computing on a lightweight device from a full-sized PC. Thin clients, since then, have changed a lot. In today’s environment, thin clients are more straightforward, compact, windows-less, low-end systems fueled by Thin Client Operating Systems. Since these end-point devices do not have many spaces, they can’t hold sensitive data and applications.
These devices are designed to perform computing over the cloud. Hence, all they need is an internet connection and a browser. Data from this computing is stored in data centers located in the cloud or on-premises. Its’ sole purpose is to display the result on a screen as close as possible to a standard PC. Thin clients first appeared in 1984 and were used to execute display server software.
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What is VDI Thin Client?
A VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) thin client is a lightweight endpoint device that is specifically designed to connect to a virtual desktop environment. Unlike traditional desktop computers, a thin client relies on a server-hosted virtual desktop infrastructure to run applications and access files. It does not have a local operating system or storage capacity, as all the computing resources and data reside on the server. Thin clients are cost-effective and easy to manage since they do not require individual software installations or updates. They provide a secure and centralized approach to desktop computing, enabling users to access their virtual desktops from any location while minimizing the risk of data loss or security breaches. Thin clients are ideal for organizations seeking a streamlined and efficient solution for deploying and managing virtual desktop environments.
History of Thin Clients
Although the term thin client was formulated in 1995, this type of computing has its roots in multi-user systems. Multi-user systems are devices that multiple users can access. These systems have then evolved from executing command line interfaces to fully performing graphical computation (GUI).
In the current environment, thin clients are used to perform minimal display functions and to offer a platform that is combined with the latest cloud technology, allowing its users to perform high-end computing. These systems are highly inexpensive, relying primarily on servers to perform evaluations. Citrix, Unix, and Raspberry PI are some of the most known developers creating the most efficient thin client systems.
Businesses that support remote working environments can get the best out of slim client computing technology. This is where distributors like Raspberry Pi came into the picture by offering affordable and compatible devices. With the help of ACE VDI, enterprises can implement Raspberry Pi or other such systems to create a remote-friendly working environment.
How Thin Client Works
Thin Clients can be implemented via three different methods: Shared Terminals, Desktop virtualization, and browser-based approach. Shared terminals on thin clients consist of a common server shared across every user performing computing using a thin client. This limits the number of complex computations that can be achieved in a normal PC.
Desktop Virtualization allows IT experts to host an actual desktop-like presence on a virtual machine. The resources in a VMs server are not shared resources yet are still located in a single remote server.
The browser-based approach is a little different from any of the above-mentioned techniques. In this framework, all the computations are done on a browser instead of on a server, which allows users to retrieve data and software on thin clients.
Benefits of Thin Clients
There are numerous thin clients benefits that can be leveraged in creating a remote yet secure environment while ensuring the power of computation is not hinged for users.
- Less Expensive: As these clients do not have the critical components of a CPU, their costing reduces dramatically. Without a hard drive and a GPU processor, the cost can be brought down significantly.
- Easy to Scale: On a requirement basis, Thin clients can be easily scaled up or down. Introducing an external hard disk, security tools, GPU or any other computational framework is easy and can be performed over the cloud as well.
- Secure: Since there is no data storage or memory within thin clients, these systems become more invulnerable to external attacks and threats.
- Less Power Consumption: Most of the thin clients are fanless. Some can even be held in the palm of a hand. With less memory and a smaller mechanism, lean clients generate less waste in the form of heat.
- Easily Managed: Most of the software installation, addition, updating, or modifying any file or data is carried out on a server. Moreover, these files are stored on a centralized server making it easier to retrieve and manage overall.
Thin Clients Vs Thick Clients
As per the basic difference, Thin clients are just small device with no computation power of their own and relies on hosts’ resources. Whereas, a thick client is a full-fledged PC that does not depend on any other device for performance.
Thin Clients, being smaller, are cheaper, easy to handle, and mobile. Hence, these systems are a perfect fit for remote working from anywhere environment. On the other hand, Thick clients are bulky, consist of all the CPU power, and hence are costlier and not so remote-friendly.
There are many differences related based on their size, functionality, and use cases:
|Factors||Thin Clients||Thick Clients|
|Data Storage||On Server, Centralized data management||Local Storage, can be scattered among multiple desktops|
|Network Latency||Requires High-Speed network coverage||Can work in low network areas.|
|Deployment||Easier Deployment as all the clients are connected centrally||Expensive deployment as multiple systems needed to be calibrated separately|
|Security||Highly secure||Vulnerable to data leaks and external threats|
Thin Clients Vs Zero Clients
Thin clients are lightweight devices that rely on a server-hosted infrastructure to run applications and access files. They have some processing power and storage capacity but still offload most of the computing resources to the server. Thin clients require a thin client operating system and often support multiple protocols for connecting to virtual desktops.
On the other hand, zero clients are even more simplified devices with minimal processing power and no local storage. They depend entirely on the server for computing resources and require no local operating system. Zero clients are purpose-built for specific virtual desktop protocols and are typically easier to manage and deploy compared to thin clients.
While thin clients offer more flexibility and support for various protocols, zero clients provide a streamlined and cost-effective solution with lower maintenance requirements. The choice between thin and zero clients depends on specific requirements, infrastructure, and management preferences in a virtual desktop environment.
Thin Client Use Cases
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, modern workspace started changing a lot. Industries began to embrace digital transformation at large and instilled cloud services within their operations. Security is on top of the IT admin’s mind in a remote working environment. Thin clients paved the path for teams and industries to be productive while maintaining security, regardless of location.
Cloud-powered virtualization techniques provided a centralized infrastructure to IT admins, ensuring data security. And Thin clients are the end-point devices from which the users can have a similar experience working on an actual feature-rich, high-specification computer system.
In addition to this computing, and with the help of the latest technology from NVIDIA and AMD, users can now have the same experience in streaming, watching multimedia, conducting video conferencing, and much more without hindering the notion of workplace experience.
Business Process Outsourcing
Call centers and BPOs are the backbone of any service that is offered around the world. The total revenue of the BPO universe across the world was recorded at $29bn by the end of 2021. Moreover, BPO is the biggest Client of Thin client systems. Since the Thin Client inception happened with multi-user devices, BPO has been the most optimum zone of operation for this type of system as they fulfill all the prerequisites of a BPO:
- Security from external attacks
- Centralized Data management
- Multi-User Access
Thin clients are stable and secure platforms, providing ample reasons for BPO clients to switch to a more affordable solution. Thin clients are designed so that more than one of their components can be broken down into individual parts. This saves cost and gives the power to scale up the system by introducing new components when needed.
Hence, not only in the BPO sector, startups and manufacturing organizations can leverage slim client computation using thin clients. The Developing and designing industry can quickly implement thin clients that ensure security and allow their workers to perform their duty anywhere they want.
The manufacturing industry can implement small-scale systems that resist debris and dust. These systems can be kept in ventless spaces as they are entirely fanless. Moreover, these systems can be configured for extreme weather conditions withstanding the shock, vibrations, extreme heat, and cold.
Cloud services adoption in the healthcare industry saw a spike during the pandemic. While most industries shifted to remote working culture, the healthcare sector still needed to work to its full potential from its actual environment. Moreover, the data collected by the healthcare sector has always been quite critical. All these challenges can be mitigated with the help of Thin Client.
Data Privacy can be protected with the help of thin clients since these devices are memoryless. All the data is stored on a centralized server and is encrypted to ensure security from any external threats. Thin clients also enable access to real-time analytics data from cloud servers. Thin clients in healthcare can be used in patients’ rooms, offices, self-check-in kiosks, and nurses’ stations.
Recommended Read: VDI Use Cases: Top 6 Real World Benefits and Applications
Thin Client’s use cases suggest that it will be one of the essential techs in driving digital transformation. These devices drive significant improvements, security, and innovations in multiple industries. In this day and age, many startups are booming. Thin clients can support this upcoming change of change.
These systems cost considerably less than traditional PCs, take a lot less space, and come with less clutter. Hence, not only in BPO and healthcare, Slim clients are impactful in manufacturing, designing, education, financial services, and other sectors. Integrated with the right managed benefits of DaaS, thin clients can prove to be a full-fledged solution.
VDI integrated into a Thin client system can offer users a similar PC experience with all the ability to perform power computing, including heavy Graphical computing over the web. Ace-powered VDI is a managed DaaS service that industries can boost their productivity, enhance their environment and promote a healthy working culture when integrated with thin clients.