How to Increase Security and Manageability with Thin Computing

Thin computing offers a secure and manageable computing solution that fits varying needs of organizations-from thin clients offering a powerful, rich PC experience to thin clients offering an affordable and reliable productivity tool. By transitioning from fat PC environments to thin computing environments, Knowledge Center contributor Jeff Groudan explains how your organization can enjoy increased security, manageability and overall cost savings from the thin computing environment.


With threats to data security on the rise and limited resources available, companies are constantly looking for ways to improve the security and manageability of computing infrastructures while reducing TCO. Conventional, dispersed client architectures can sometimes create challenges in data security, image management and IT support demands. All three of these challenges can be difficult to manage with limited resources.

We're seeing a growing trend in the adoption of thin computing, which helps address these challenges by centralizing computing resources in the data center for simplified management and more deterministic data security. In a thin computing environment, thin clients become the access devices. All network traffic is routed through a centralized, secure server which is managed and controlled by IT administrators. Unlike a traditional desktop PC, neither applications nor data is stored locally on the thin client.

Proprietary information is stored securely on a server, compliant with privacy regulations. In fact, keystrokes, mouse clicks and screen images are all that is sent between the client device and server, limiting the solution's vulnerability to viruses and other malware attacks.

Take, for example, notebook computers lost by government workers or corporate executives. We've all heard horror stories of credit card or social security numbers that have been compromised when this occurs. The outcome could be devastating to employees who are storing extremely sensitive information on their notebooks.

With a mobile thin client, proprietary data is not compromised because thin clients have no local storage devices. This also means that lost, stolen or damaged thin clients can easily be replaced, enabling users to get up and running with little down time.

Driving efficiency and promoting security

Security is only one of the benefits of a virtualized environment. Thin computing solutions are driving efficiency and promoting security in business environments by allowing IT managers to remotely manage PC applications from one central location. It allows IT administrators to simultaneously oversee hundreds-if not thousands-of thin clients from the data center, rather than at each user's desk. This reduces and nearly eliminates time spent on help desk calls.

One global provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) services reduced its call center costs by more than 83 percent for each call center seat (from $6,000 to only $1,000) by switching to a thin computing environment.

IT administrators control which applications are stored on the server, and can also control varying degrees of access to each thin client user. And with no hard drive, fan or other moving parts, thin clients tend to have a longer life span than standard computers. They also use significantly less power, offering up to 80 percent power savings and one-fourth the failure rate of traditional desktop PCs with similar capabilities.

Over the next year, expect to see organizations transition from "fat" PC environments to thin computing environments-and benefit from the increased security, manageability and overall cost savings.

Jeff Groudan is worldwide Vice President of Thin Computing solutions for Hewlett-Packard's Desktop Solutions organization. Jeff is responsible for understanding customer, technology and market trends in order to build business strategies. Jeff received a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia and a Master's degree in Business Administration from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. He can be reached