Thin client solutions vs. cloud computing

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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

SIMTone promises cloud computing capabilities that are simpler, cheaper, faster and more secure than other solutions on the market.


Some may wonder how SIMtone differs from thin client solutions such as those available from Wyse. Simply put, in SIMtone’s case, it is all about provisioning and enabling a data center to offer a hosted desktop experience to a browser-enabled PC. That differs greatly from the thin client concept, which is all about delivering a session to a specific piece of thin client hardware, such as an ICA/RDP terminal.

Of course, the line can be somewhat blurred between thin client and cloud computing. For example, SIMtone offers a SNAP device, which looks and feels like a piece of thin client hardware. On the other hand, companies playing in the thin client realm offer sessions via a browser. Take for instance, Wyse with their "zero client" technology – an add on that transforms the thin client experience into a browser-based experience.

Thin client and cloud computing further differ when compared conceptually. Thin clients are designed to replace the traditional PC and have all of the processing take place on a dedicated host PC, usually located on site. Cloud computing relies on the intelligence of the desktop PC to share in the processing details, usually by combining elements of SaaS with a browser experience.

In other words, although a hosted system is responsible for delivering a desktop experience, the host may be handing off much of the processing chores to a generic client PC running a compatible browser. Beyond the conceptual differences, cloud computing solutions tend to offer management and migration utilities not found with thin client systems. That helps to "transform" a traditional environment into the cloud, while thin clients are more focused on building a new architecture to deliver services.

Ultimately the channel will decide which route to follow, but bear in mind that thin clients are associated with the past way of doing things (think mainframe/dumb terminal), while the cloud screams of the future.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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