How to "Think Thin"

from Educators' eZine

Technology in education-related environments must be low maintenance, budget friendly and secure. Thin clients are quickly proving themselves in many different educational formats—public schools, university computer labs, and libraries—as they allow teachers to spend more time with students and less time hovering over a faulty PC. Add to this benefit the reassurance that comes from knowing that students are protected from any unwanted applications or software, and thin clients get an "A".

What is Thin Client Computing?

In essence, thin client computing describes a shift away from the complexities of the typical PC. Today's PC has become a rather bloated device, and with the added complexities of new hardware and software releases, PCs have endless compatibility issues. As a result, what started as a simple personal computer evolved into a rather complex "fat client" network device.

Thin client computing is an answer to the endless PC desktop upgrade and maintenance cycle. A thin client is a "display-only" device, meaning it displays applications that run on dedicated servers rather than on the computer. By simplifying the load on the thin client, a thin client can be a very small, low-powered device. The server has the full weight of all the applications, services and data. By keeping a few servers busy and many thin clients lightly loaded, users experience the following advantages:

Less Power, Less Heat
I-O's Pro|Edge thin clients consume 1/16th the power of a standard desktop PC. This is good news for administrators grappling with tightening budgets as thin clients reduce the electrical demands placed on your infrastructure, which equals additional savings.

Unlike PCs, thin clients have no local storage devices, making them impenetrable to viruses and other malware. Because applications and data are stored at a central location on the server, thin clients offer greater security. The read-only nature of embedded operating systems provides security by preventing virus and unwanted application installations. In addition, technology directors can remotely disable access to any USB mass storage devices attached to thin client.

Thin Clients have solid-state technology, which means there are no moving parts to fail. By eliminating moving components like hard drives, processor fans, power supply fans, thin clients significantly lower any potential points of failure thus increasing the reliability of the entire computing infrastructure and decreasing overall IT maintenance costs.

Total Cost of Ownership
The total cost associated with managing PCs can be $1,000 per PC per year or even higher ��€“ and it doesn't appear that this cost will decline anytime soon. Thin clients provide a streamlined approach to computing that save time, money and increase productivity.

The Green Factor

We are all feeling the pressure from a variety of sources—media, government, local communities, faculty and students— to make more environmentally conscious decisions. With a proven track record of consuming a fraction of the power of traditional PCs, thin clients are a boon to the environmentally-minded technology administrator.

A study conducted by IO Corp comparing the power consumption of its Pro|Edge Thin clients to PCs showed some dramatic results. PCs consumed 16X more energy than Pro|Edge thin clients. Few, if any, technologies in education can claim such drastic power savings.

Case Study: Weber County Libraries

Weber County Library recently deployed I-O Pro|Edge thin clients to replace outdated HP terminals currently used for catalogue browsing stations. Familiar with the benefits of thin clients, Weber County Library Technology Director, Scott Jones, conducted a thorough testing procedure to ensure the Pro|Edge thin clients operated well with the libraries' internal applications.

Of special concern to Jones was Pro|Edge's environmental compatibility with Weber County's new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building project. The county's fifth library branch is a cutting-edge "green" building using all recycled steel, low-energy lighting and efficient HVAC systems.

"One of the many benefits of thin clients is their low power requirements, making them an ideal choice for our environmentally-friendly building initiative," said Jones. "We performed many tests to ensure that the new thin clients would consume as little power as possible to get the job done. Our tests confirmed that Pro|Edge consumed minimal power compared to traditional PCs—making them a really good fit for our Library system's needs."

I-O's service and support was another factor that helped cement Jones' decision to deploy Pro|Edge thin clients. "We liked the idea that I-O was a local company and they were willing to work with us to help find a good fit," Jones noted. "Even though Pro|Edge thin clients require little or no maintenance, it's reassuring knowing that I-O's support is the best in the industry."

Looking Forward

The future is bright for thin clients. IDC believes worldwide thin client shipments will continue to grow at a rapid pace reaching over 6 million units in 2010 for a 22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). In addition, in developed markets such as the United States and Western Europe, thin clients are expected to represent over 10% of all enterprise desktop shipments in 2010.

Service and Support Speed Adoption
Schools and other educational institutions are often hindered by technology that requires a lot of time and support. Rather than add more staff to support increased technology, schools can deploy technologies—such as thin clients—to reduce the number of support hours.

The adoption of thin client computing is only propelled forward as distributors make the transition easier for educators. Companies such as I-O are doing just that as they work with each client to design a unique thin client deployment to suite their individual needs. In addition, I-O offers a five year warranty for its Pro-Edge thin client—the industry's longest, most robust warranty to date. The five year warranty includes a rapid response exchange program for any Pro|Edge thin client.


Integrating technology into the learning process is critical for today's educational facilities. Thin client computing can provide educators with a secure, economical computing solution while also staying environmentally conscious. The architecture and benefits of thin client computing make this technology a natural choice for any learning institution.

As a veteran of the IT industry, Matt has experience in IT administration, IT management, IT executive management, and hardware and software development. Drawing on this extensive IT background, Matt was appointed as President and CEO of I-O Corporation 4 years ago. Under Matt's leadership I-O has increased its focused on innovation, thus providing better solutions to help companies acquire a greater return on their technology investment.