Calling a thin client a device for power users may seem like an oxymoron, but Hewlett-Packard is giving it a try.
HP Monday released two thin client devices, including one it says is a potential replacement for desktops used by knowledge workers. The update is the first to HP thin clients in two years.
[ Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: Wrap Up newsletter. ]
The new models include increased processing power delivered directly at the desktop to improve multimedia and graphics capability.
The high-end HP thin client runs an AMD G-series, 1.65 GHz Fusion processor with an integrated Radeon graphics capability.
Power users that replace a desktop computer with the high-end HP thin client system, the t610, "are not going to notice any degradation in their experience." said Jeff Groudan, who heads HP's global thin client operation.
That may be so. But thin client deployments are dependent on backend capabilities, including the number of VDI sessions the servers are handling as well as the responsiveness of the network and storage.
"It's always a management story," said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC.
Growing user demand for IT support of personal devices, including tablets, smartphones and laptops, may help spur backend upgrades to support thin client deployments. Demand for bring-your-own-device support could prompt more IT organizations to adopt VDI, which can be used to support personal devices and thin clients.
"Thin clients may be able to ride the coattails of things like the iPad," said O'Donnell.
Suzanne Kosub, CIO of Concentra, is exploring ways to provide such capablities to employee-owned devices used at the national health care provider. Employees "aren't going to want to carry multiple devices," said Kosub.
People want "a technology capability that will allow them to work in their personal space, but allow them to have a container or a partition for work that conforms to the requirements of the workspace," said Kosub, adding that security is paramount .
Concentra may be better prepared than most companies for the consumerization shift. It has been using thin clients for more than 15 years and runs a centralized IT operation despite having more than 310 national locations.
The health care provider supports some 500 fat clients, a number Kosub wants to continue reducing.
An HP user, she plans to test the new thin clients to see what their improved capability will bring. She said that by beefing up the thin client device is needed to meet the heavier demands on the client.
Concentra is working on a mobile technology management strategy that would allow users to work on a virtual desktop of their end point device. But Kosub believes deployments are still in the early adopter phase , particularly the governance models for managing these devices.
Thin clients are gaining traction with businesses.
IDC sees the worldwide installed base of thin clients growing from about 16.1 million last year to nearly 33 million by 2015.