Although thin-clients are a great way for companies to simplify their IT architecture while reducing costs and improving security, there are a few drawbacks that you should be made aware of.
Thin clients restrict much of the local machine capabilities, such as access to USB thumb drives or CD drives. They also prevent users from fiddling around with the local machine settings, and creating problems that unnecessarily eat up the IT department’s time. Although this makes thin clients very secure, it can also make them inconvenient for your employees.
When implementing a new thin client environment, it’s very important to get management buy-in early on as a means of reducing friction. Having everyone on the same page like this will help avoid any negative impacts to productivity or morale.
One possible alternative would be to set up “tubby clients” which have all of the benefits of a fully-featured local machine, with a terminal client running as a program inside the computer. This sort of thing should be kept to a minimum, since every new tubby client will eat away at the benefits of having implemented a terminal server architecture.
Although most basic business information processing is well-suited to a thin client environment, there are still many higher-performance applications which must be performed on their own dedicated machine.
Well-Suited To Thin Clients: Data Entry, Web Browsing, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, etc…
Poorly-Suited to Terminal Servers: Computer-Aided Design, Graphic Design. Video Editing, Object Linking and Embedding of complex data between applications, etc…
Since thin clients are completely reliant on your LAN or WAN, a simple network failure can quickly become very expensive. That’s why you need to take precautions to ensure maximum resiliency within your network, and to ensure that there always multiple points of failure to prevent downtime.
You might have to spend more money up-front in order to make the upgrade, but your costs will drop after that.
Because moving to terminal services will represent such a large change in its IT infrastructure, there will certainly be number of legacy applications which will be incompatible with the new thin client environment.
There are 2 ways of dealing with this problem:
- First, you may want to consider replacing or completely eliminating the application in question with one that would be more suited to the new terminal services environment. This should be the first option, since each new thin client will maximize the cost-savings derived from the new terminal services initiative.
- Second, you may want to consider setting up a tubby client that runs these critical applications while also running the thin client in a window as an application on the local machine.
If your company ends up having many chubby clients, it can cause an elevated burden on your IT staff since they have to walk over to individual machines – each one different like a snowflake – in order to resolve issues.
One way that companies have managed to cut costs in this scenario has been to group all of the tubby clients – often from multiple offices – into a single physical area. For example, you might group all of the CAD designers, video editors and graphic designers into one section of the building.
This greatly simplifies the support process since all of the machines requiring physical work are within arm’s reach.