PC Card Converts Old Desktop Computer into Thin Client for $99

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Thin-client vendor Igel is offering a $99 PC card that converts old desktop PCs into thin clients. It's a technology that Daimler Chrysler recently decided to use to extend the life of its aging fleet of Dell desktop PCs. Igel rival Wyse says the recession and other factors such as virtualization, cloud computing and green IT have recently spurred more rapid adoption of thin-client technology.

As IT organizations look to extend the lifetimes of their current fleets of PCs, some may soon be considering a new option—converting the actual desktop computer into a Linux thin client.

That’s what Daimler Chrysler, the former owner of troubled U.S. automaker Chrysler Holdings, was looking to do when it recently converted 1,000 of its Dell PCs into Linux thin clients using a PC card available from Igel Technology, a longtime thin-client vendor based in Germany.

Daimler Chrysler, also based in Germany, had contracted with Igel for 2,500 of its standard thin-client devices, says Erhard Behnke, president of Igel. Once that project was under way, the automaker came back to Igel, looking to convert 1,000 of its IT organization’s standard Dell PCs into thin clients using the Igel PC card.

Behnke says the life cycle expectation for Igel’s standard thin client is between five years and eight years. As for the thin-client card, IT organizations can expect those to last for as long as the moving parts within the PC itself do not to break, says Behnke.

Daimler Chrysler saved thousands of dollars by converting its PC fleet into thin clients instead of buying all PC client devices. For hardware and software, thin-client devices typically cost end-user organizations anywhere from $150 to $500 per client. The price of Igel’s PC card that converts an existing PC into a thin client is now $99, at least until the end of June.

Several factors are driving a renewed interest in thin-client computing, says Jeff McNaught, chief marketing officer and security officer at Wyse Technology, considered to be the largest thin-client vendor, including the move to virtualization and cloud computing, and efforts to make IT more green. Another major driving force comes from IT organizations looking to cut their budgets as the worldwide economic recession continues into 2009.

The economic downturn has dampened IT spending," McNaught says. And it’s not just the cost of desktop PCs that stop IT organizations from refreshing their computers.

"Buying a PC is cheap," McNaught adds.  "You can get one for $399. But companies complain about the costs of maintaining a PC once it’s installed. Those costs don’t exist with a thin client."

The interest may grow even further with the arrival of the new $99 price point for Igel’s thin-client PC, which was previously priced at $169. Igel’s Behnke says that his company is seeing interest from education and health care customers as well.

Igel’s thin-client devices are sold 100 percent through the channel, and in North America Igel deals through distributor Synnex. Resellers are required to attend sales and technical training to become Igel channel partners, which they can attend via the Web. Channel partners get free evaluation units at their customer project sites and free support from Igel.


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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