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Thin Clients and The Cloud

One area that often gets a bit muddled when we’re talking about cloud computing is this idea of a thin client. Because cloud-based services are delivered via the Internet and, in most cases, a web browser, the natural tendency is to devalue the actual client piece, as all you truly need is a device that can run a browser. Indeed, the idea that you can use a tablet PC, a low-end computer or even your cell phone as a client for cloud services illustrates just how revolutionary the cloud is, and what kind of versatility it brings.

All of that said, thin clients and the cloud are incidental to one another. You can benefit from cloud computing via thin client, but the thin client’s primary purpose isn’t necessarily to take advantage of cloud services.

In fact, the distinguishing mark of the thin client is that it’s designed to utilize one distinct delivery method. Thin clients depend on remote execution of applications. The processing function happens out there on the server side, meaning that the thin client is dependent entirely on your network and your servers for access to applications, as well as for performance issues. Thin clients operate primarily in an internal network configuration, rather than out in the wild.

thin clientsThere are some important differences between thin client computing and cloud computing that you should keep in mind:

•    With thin client computing, software processing happens on the server rather than the local client. With cloud computing, the basic idea is that the software and infrastructure you’re using is on-demand and usually a pay-as-you-go format.

•    Thin client computing is primarily used in an internal network or intranet situation. Cloud computing can be done either via the Internet (known as an “external cloud”) or the intranet (known as an “internal cloud.”)

•    Thin clients are always connected, and require connectivity to function. Cloud computing has both online and offline usages.

•    Thin client computing uses inexpensive terminal-type devices. Cloud computing uses just about any device, with the specific requirements being left up to the particular service.

•    Processing happens on the server for thin client configurations, while it can happen on the client, server or both in a cloud environment.

•    Licensing for thin client computing resembles traditional enterprise licensing, while cloud computing tends to be subscription-based.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.