Does Thin Client Have a Future in the Cloud

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Colorado Technical University

Does Thin Client Have a Future in the Cloud?

Final Project
Ernie Eugster
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
IT400
Information Technology Architectures

By
Brendon Morris
Colorado Springs, Colorado
June 12, 2012
Abstract
Thin client has been around a long time. Ever since the days of the ‘main frame’, thin clients have been used. Rooms filled with huge clunky servers that functioned as the central resource for dumb clients used to be the norm. Thin client, once thought dead, is still around and changing how architectures look in all aspects IT. The continued success of cloud computing may provide a place for thin client to thrive. Can thin client ever replace the PC? Only time will tell. Does Thin Client Have a Future in the Cloud?

A couple of factors will have an effect on how thin client is used in the current IT environment. Cloud computing has exploded and the use of mobile devices has shown rapid growth (Woods, 2012). These two factors make for a very hospitable environment for thin client. The question is, will there be enough growth potential for thin client in a PC dominated world? Whether it’s Software as a Service (SAAS), running on enterprise virtual servers utilizing service Oriented architecture, or applications over the cloud; it would seem that the trend is moving that way. Away from the ‘need’ for PC (Vizard, 2012). Is a full blown PC really necessary to access these types of services, especially when you just want to use your tablet to access systems and services in the network? One major indicator to the current trend is the acquisition of Wyse by Dell. When the leader of PC sales buys one of the largest manufacturers of thin client computers, it warrants some though as to where the market is going. This paper will explore the concepts of thin client. What is thin client is and the differences it has from other architectures? Some of the benefits and challenges of thin client will also be addressed. Explanations of cloud computing, and its effect on thin client will be covered. Also, the future trends of cloud and thin client will be discussed. There is now doubt that thin client is becoming a major player in the IT market. As with most technologies, it is hard to tell what methods and architectures will win out in the end. Can thin and thick architectures thrive together, with both models existing as contrasting models that can be viable independently of each other? Ultimately, the winner will be determined by which model survives the test of time. Thin Client

Background

Thin client has been viewed as an alternative to traditional PC models. Thin clients rely on centralized servers for processing, applications and storage services. Meaning, they don’t do much other than provide an interface to the resources. Conversely, thick client handles the data processing, application processing, and data storage locally (Tyson, 2010). Figure 1 - Thin &Thick

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Note that in thin client architecture PC’s can be used the same way as the thin client, using ‘tunneling’ technology to access the desktop environment remotely using VNC, Citrix or something similar. The common user recognizes thick client as the common PC, basically the opposite of thin client. Hybrid or ‘diskless’ architecture allows for processing locally, where the data is at the server. Over time, overly optimistic predictions have guessed that thin client would become the dominant model for desktop computing. Needless to say that has yet to happen, even though thin client has been around since the onset of computing. The outcome is due to several factors that have affected thin client growth. Increased processing power, along with lower cost, improved bandwidth, and storage capacity have all played a part in driving the market toward more powerful desktops . At the same time, sever...
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