HP offers expanded back-end support
In addition to the actual clients, HP is offering expanded back-end support for developing a centralized computing model, including a range of PC blades and servers for this type of deployment. One of the reasons it acquired Neoware was to tap that company's software suites that offer better management tools, graphics capabilities and ability to stream applications from a Citrix server. While Thursday's announcement centered on hardware improvements, HP is also planning to integrate more Neoware software into its centralized computing solutions starting this year "Neoware had a pretty good manageability stack and it also had pretty good imaging software that allowed for better utilization of the thin client," said Mark Margevicius, an analyst with Gartner. "Neoware also has a very large customer base and a huge portion of that base was outside of the U.S., which also gives HP a foothold in the emerging markets."The idea of the centralized model is to move thin clients out of their niche as PCs for call centers and other temporary workers into mainstream enterprises and vertical markets, such as health care and education. Analysts have said that one of the main obstacles in the way of developing this type of computing, besides finding the right combination of software and hardware, is changing the mindset of a workforce that still sees value in traditional desktops and notebooks. Tad Bodeman, the director of HP's Thin Client Business Unit, admitted there were problems in developing this type of computing model. However, he noted that many companies may chose to make incremental deployments as they look to replace older PCs.
HP is not the only major vendor to offer an end-to-end centralized computing solution. In 2007, Dell offered its own version that uses its PowerEdge servers, traditional Dell desktops with the hard drives removed and back-end streaming and virtualization technology from Citrix.