Thin clients for more than a decade have held the promise of easier management, greater security and reduced costs, but for much of that time, the reality was much different.
That's begun to change in recent years, with the rise of virtualization, the cloud and mobile computing, and the rapid improvement in graphics technology. Officials with Wyse Technology believe they've got the technology now to extend the thin client out of its traditional niche of such environments as call centers and into more traditional areas in verticals like health care, financial services and retail.
The company on Jan. 31 introduced the Wyse Z90, its latest thin client that supports Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating system and is powered by Advanced Micro Device's dual-core G-Series processors. The technology inside gives the Z90 the performance IT staffs are looking for in their desktop virtualization environments, according to Jeff McNaught, chief marketing and strategy officer for Wyse.
The device, unveiled at Cisco Live London 2011, offers two-way video capabilities in a complete UC (unified communications) environment, high-definition Flash technology and two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, for peripherals like HD Webcams. It also is powered by an engine that puts all of the key components-from the CPUs and vector engines to the unified video decoder for HD decoding tasks-onto a single piece of silicon, a key enhancer to performance.
"It delivers the power of a PC, but under 13 watts of power," McNaught said in an interview with eWEEK.
He said the 3D graphics performance in the Z90 is 187 percent better than that in rival Hewlett-Packard's t5740 thin client.
The combination of Wyse's adoption of new processors and other technologies with Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard 7 clears away the performance and security hurdles that have kept thin clients out of general work environments , he said.
"We're there now," McNaught said.
That will be important over the next few years, he said. McNaught said that computing will shift from PCs to other devices, such as tablets and handheld devices to thin clients in cloud environments.
"The market is changing dramatically to VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure]," he said.
Later this quarter, Wyse is planning to roll out new technology designed to improve the management of thin clients. "Project Pyramid" is designed to enable thin clients to self configure themselves in fewer than two minutes. That compares with the 30 minutes to three hours it takes for a VDI deployment now, he said.
Such capabilities are key in Windows embedded environments, and is useful to enterprises and SMBs alike, McNaught said. It also will enable Wyse to better compete with HP in the Windows embedded space, the one area he said HP still holds an advantage over Wyse.
"One area where HP has been greater is in the Windows embedded area," McNaught said. "This is the last market segment where we're not No. 1."