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​Thin Client Computing / Desktop as a Service

What is a Client?

In computing terminology, a 'client' is a hardware or software component in a network that relies on a more powerful computer, a server, to perform specified operations. This means that not all processing needs to be performed by a user's device or applications. The client simply provides a window, or interface, to view and use applications on a personal computer, workstation or other device. Clients most commonly connect to servers through the Internet.

Thin Clients

A 'thin' client relies on a server to do most or all of its processing. A common example is a web application that uses a browser to present the application to the user. Thin computers are far simpler than standard PCs, and usually contain just enough information to start up and connect to the server.

Thick Clients

A 'thick' client is a computer with many locally stored programs and resources and little dependence on network resources. A common example of a 'thick client' is where the interface of the application must be downloaded to the desktop computer.

Benefits of Thin Client Computing

The advantages of thin client computing include:

  • Reduced cost – simpler devices are lower in price. In a situation where many people perform a similar task, it is more cost-effective to have one network server computer and many cheap client computers, than to have many complete devices.
  • Ease of maintenance a standard computer has a lot of parts, and a thin client only has a few, which means fewer things can go wrong. The simplicity makes it easier to diagnose and repair problems.
  • Ease of use – reduced complexity for users.
  • Security – security is centralized and easier to manage.

Thin client computers are increasingly replacing standard PCs in the workplace.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

A virtualized desktop means that a standard desktop computer's operating system, applications and other resources required for the interface are delivered from a host server. A VDI enables users to access their desktop from remote locations, including on mobile devices, because a central server executes the user interface. It is increasingly common for the standard Windows interface to be virtualized, rather than housed on the user's device.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is where an external cloud service provider's servers – rather than in-house servers - provide the operations for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The DaaS service provider takes on responsibility for data storage, backup, security and upgrades, which reduces pressure on internal IT staff. DaaS is purchased on a subscription basis, usually for a set monthly fee.

DaaS is a great alternative for smaller to mid-sized businesses seeking the benefits of a VDI, but lacking the budget and resources required to set up an in-house VDI. The monthly pay-per-use of DaaS avoids the need for high upfront capital expenditure, making it a more affordable way to access newer technology.