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Spencer Green
Chairman, GDS International

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25 May 2011

Extending the life of the desktop

By Heiko Gloge

IGEL Technology |

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I n economically troubled times, many companies tend to put off upgrading their IT systems, instead giving priority to IT projects designed to increase the efficiency of what they already have. The concept of converting older desktop PCs into thin clients, and as a result standardising them, combines both of these approaches by simultaneously safeguarding your IT investment – readying it for IT developments such as virtualisation and cloud computing – while cutting your IT costs.

According to analyst group Gartner, assuming a typical service life of three to four years, then there are some 280 million standalone workstation PCs now due for replacement in the business world. By converting these PCs to thin clients, using IGEL's Universal Desktop Converter software, for example, businesses can defer a replacement cost of 400 Euro per device (per year) for another two to four years, take advantage of lower running costs and prepare for a move to virtual or cloud computing.

To upgrade third party hardware into IGEL Universal Desktops, customers simply plug in and boot the firmware from a USB token, memory stick, CD or convert over the network from a central location. The IGEL Universal Firmware is then installed automatically on to their system.

Proof that it is truly worthwhile to deploy a centralised IT infrastructure and convert existing desktop devices into thin clients can be found in the economic analysis of Germany's renowned Fraunhofer Institute. Compared to unmanaged PCs linked in a client/server network, they found that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an SBC/thin client architecture can be up to 70 percent less. However, this calculation is based on the use of real thin clients, not converted PCs. If, as an interim step, legacy PCs are converted into thin clients, the costs of installing the replacement system results in initial savings of 90 percent because the thin client conversion software costs about one tenth of the purchase price of a standard business-grade PC.

In addition, the management and support times are cut by just under 70 percent due to centralised management, the elimination of the need to separately (re)install software and subsequent software patches on each and every PC, and a drop in the user assistance required.

With the IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS), which comes bundled with Universal Desktop Converter software, IT administrators also have a powerful and scalable management tool that they can use to economically and easily manage their desktops from a remote location and in a group-based manner. Whenever an occasional update is required for the thin client operating system, it can be conveniently scheduled to remotely self-install. The deployment time and cost is dramatically reduced.

The gradual migration via thin client software permits an economical transition to a more secured, sustainable and efficient desktop infrastructure. When the converted end-user devices eventually reach the end of their service life, they are gradually replaced by 'real' IGEL thin clients, whose own service life is usually six years and more. Compared to a PC-based infrastructure, this two-stage 'thin' approach can double the length of hardware investment cycles, not to mention the energy savings that can have a major effect on bottom lines with up to a 75 percent reduction in power costs. And with a standardised, centrally managed desktop, the business is ideally suited to make further savings by outsourcing its desktop infrastructure if desired.


After starting with Melchers in 1988, Heiko Gloge was made General Manager of its NetCom division, which in 2001 became IGEL Technology GmbH, where he serves today as Managing Director and Partner. Heiko was one of the founders of the European Thin Client Forum and is currently Chairman of the Thin Client & Server Based Computing group in Germany's IT industry association, BITKOM .

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