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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

“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.