Thursday, September 01, 2005

What Does Thin-client Mean?

Thin-client computing is a “back to the future” technology. Before the advent of the personal computer (pc), mainframe computers powered “dumb terminals,” which were reliable, affordable, and centrally controlled. The adoption of pcs by organizations as their main computing platform was driven by the variety of software being written for the pc, but resulted in the difficult tasks that most organizations are familiar with today: installing, managing, and maintaining individual computers. In a thin-client network, a powerful computer called a “server” does the actual processing tasks, while significantly less powerful computers act as “clients,” just providing the keyboard, mouse, and video-display interaction with the server. To users accustomed to a personal computer, it can be a surprise to learn that the super-fast “client” computer they are sitting at is not actually performing their tasks. As high-end pcs have increased in power and decreased in cost, they are now increasingly being used as servers in thin-client networks. In this configuration, the server alone requires maintenance and configuration, significantly simplifying the support tasks associated with computer use.

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