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.
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.
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.