It has been 20 years since Wyse introduced the first thin clients into the market, bringing secure, easy to manage, energy saving client technology to a variety of non-traditional environments. Since the outset, we knew this technology would enable better security and new flexibility for our customers. Yet the adoption rate and business value it provides today has far exceeded our expectations.
Over the years, generations of thin clients have come and gone, and system performance has improved exponentially. Our solutions — which were once not thin at all — now fit easily in tight spaces and have huge appeal for environments where security is paramount or where staying in control of fleets of PCs has become an overwhelming IT burden.
While the world has not seen 100 percent thin client adoption like some early pundits predicted, the solutions have become the prevailing technology for many organizations. Moreover, its appeal has spread from highly regulated industries to a larger footprint of companies as cyber threats and awareness have increased. Over the next couple of years, a few key market conditions like these will drive thin client adoption:
1. The Ever-Growing Desire for Mobility
Workplace mobility is helping customers across different sectors replace old systems of communication, data gathering and record keeping with more efficient digital methods. However, as workers seek this any-time, any-place access to their data and applications, concerns around security, reliability, costs and complexity also surge. For organizations of all sizes, it is crucial to manage the apps and data workers are accessing, as well as the devices they’re using.
This is where the original value of thin clients — secure, manageable, cost-effective data organization and delivery — is providing value in new use cases. Customer demand has already surged, with Freeform Dynamics showing that 70 percent of businesses now believe that thin clients have a fundamental role in a multi-device strategy. Meanwhile, 43 percent of businesses say that thin clients will have a critical position in their infrastructure plans moving forward, and 39 percent are already finding significant ways to incorporate thin clients into their employee ecosystem.
2. An Increased Value for Mid-Market Customers
It’s not only market changes but economic changes that are driving new audiences to adopt thin clients. The decreasing costs and minimal resources demanded from IT departments open the door for growing businesses across a wider array of sectors to implement thin client solutions, not just those in traditional VDI markets such as healthcare and finance.
New hyper-converged infrastructure appliance innovations are dramatically reducing the average cost per seat, while even more affordable thin client solutions will be released throughout the coming months. This value proposition will increase among customers with IT departments that are overseen by IT generalists or by those facing an increasing strain on resources.
3. The Growing Sophistication of Malware
As important as security was when we launched 20 years ago, it’s become even more vital in today’s climate. It’s estimated that 95 percent of breaches originate at the endpoint, and the recent spate of high-profile data breaches has made organizations well aware of the consequences that can befall companies without 360-degree security programs in place.
This desire to ensure the highest level of security, while simultaneously not increasing the burden on IT departments, is making thin clients an appealing option for many organizations, not just those in highly regulated industries. The main drivers behind this are twofold.
Firstly, thin clients allow organizations to be assured their data is secure without forcing their IT departments to manage security profiles for individual devices. For example, our hardware-only zero clients, and our thin clients based on Dell Wyse ThinOS software are virus and malware immune thanks to an unpublished API and zero-attack surface.
Secondly, thin clients can be integrated into an existing technology infrastructure with minimal hassle and without requiring a complete restructuring. This is important for companies that want to maintain security and compliance processes across a variety of worker needs, as it enables these businesses to cater to sectioned-out use cases within the workplace.
The market may have changed in the 20 years since we first launched thin client solutions, but the fundamental tenets of these solutions have only grown more relevant as threats have increased in number and drawn awareness beyond the bounds of regulated industries. Security is no longer just a compliance concern — it’s a central component of every business in every industry. And as organizations begin to move past the shellshock that mobility has caused, they’ll turn to thin clients in increasing numbers as an affordable and worry-free answer to employees’ needs. Because what was true 20 years ago is true today: the more secure the devices, the more secure the data. And the easier we can make that for clients, the better their chances of long-term success.