Nearly two-thirds of organisations polled in the
National Computing Centres IT User Survey asserted that they would be using some
kind of thin client technology within the next two years. This is not, however, expected
to be a business-wide adoption, but rather a piecemeal application to meet specific
The growing interest in thin client technology was certainly borne out by respondents, who
were asked to describe their existing position with respect to thin client technology and
to forecast what their position might be in two years time.
Currently, fewer than 10% of respondents reported a major commitment to thin client
technology and less than 30% have any thin client applications. However, by the year 2001,
63% will be using some thin client technology and almost a quarter of respondents say that
they will have adopted it on a fairly wide spread basis or that it will be a key strategic
technology for their organisation. The most common use for thin clients currently is for
specific applications that can be more efficiently managed or implemented in the thin
client environment. This trend looks set to continue with 40% of those intending to
implement thin technology, planning to do so on a limited basis.
"The growth of thin client technology mirrors a general trend we have been observing
towards managing users environments," comments Diane Finn, head of membership
for the National Computer Centre. "Thin client technology allows the IT department to
monitor and manage users desktops, giving it more control. Whats harder to
explain is the piecemeal adoption which seems to be dominating the purchasing in this
area. Our findings have shown that thin clients are not being used in the way first
expected enterprise-wide introduction has given way to an applied use of the
technology on a project basis."
The major factor which distinguishes those who will be using thin client technology is the
size of organisation, particularly the number of IT users. More than three-quarters of the
organisations with over 500 users indicated that they would probably be using thin client
technology in two years time, albeit on a limited basis for most of them.
Ease of management of the desktop environment was seen as a major benefit of thin client
technology by over 70% of the respondents. The possibility of using thin client technology
as a means of regaining some control over the user environment may explain part of the
emphasis on thin client technology in larger organisations. A few respondents amplified
this message with comments such as:
providing control over end-users to improve discipline and
Lower total cost of ownership and improved security were also cited by over 40% of
respondents as a major benefit of thin client technology.
Of the additional benefits that were raised by respondents, references to the lower
bandwidth requirements of thin client applications were most common. These took several
- Increased speed of applications over WAN
- Improved access over ISDN
- Enhance processing speed for remote dial-up users
- Allows use of existing cabling
Clearly there will be many other organisations that are attracted by
this aspect of thin client technology.