Pitfalls of Thin Computing

  • Reliance on the server. In a thin computing system the terminals rely completely on the server for information and processing capability, as there is no other way of storing it locally (as there is no hard drive available for storage as there is with a PC). So, if there is a problem with the server or it is unavailable, users with terminals won’t be able to access any information.
  • Costs of the server. Changing to a thin computing system will incur some investment as a server will be required. The best time to do this is when there is a need to replace some PCs. It is possible that any savings made from buying terminals rather than PCs may be offset by the cost of the server.
  • Graphics. Until recently thin computing was not able to handle graphics particularly well. The latest thin computing technology addresses this but you should check that the system you choose meets the needs of your PC users. Even with the latest technology there are some types of user, for example graphic designers, where thin computing may not be appropriate.
  • Infrastructure. As a thin client network requires all processing to be carried out on the server it is important that your network is reliable and can handle the traffic easily. Many people think thin computing needs more network capacity but the opposite is usually true. This is because it is only the screen information that goes across the network, not the complete file as would be the case with a PC.
  • Installing lots of applications and hardware such as printers on central computers can cause conflicts – the design of the system must be right or there can be real problems.
  • Printing. Printing for many users will be much faster but, particularly for users in remote offices, it can be slower. There are ways to deal with this but you need to identify any problems and highlight them to your supplier. A test period before the whole system is installed will help achieve this.
  • If your users need to use external devices such as PDAs you must check that the system can handle these. The latest systems can make external devices work just like they do on a PC, but systems are not all the same, so you must highlight this requirement to your supplier and check that the system can do what you need before purchase.