Thin clients aren’t the future – BYOD should be

Thin clients are really for special use cases, but BYOD is ripe for widescale deployment. Here's why...

Office

There's obvious savings surrounding hardware procurement as well, especially if you don't give workers too much cash to spend on their devices. No doubt they'd only buy some overpriced piece of trash like a convertible tablet anyway, right?

For the user, it enables them to become genuinely mobile and choose which form factor suits them most. Rather than being lumped with a piece of kit they aren't used to or simply don't like, they can enjoy their computing and even self-service. Instead of calling up IT moaning about their dilapidated PCs resembling WALL-E on a cocaine come down, in many cases they'll know how to fix the problems themselves. Imagine that

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As for PC manufacturers, the market may be in decline, but in a world where BYOD is ubiquitous they will benefit from continued sales of laptops, tablets or whatever other most-likely-Apple devices consumers are frothing at the mouth over.

Admittedly, PC makers will get fewer big enterprise hardware deals, but giants like HP and Dell have recognised the need to do more than just supply PCs and servers. In sticking with the client market whilst branching out into services, vendors can still prosper.

You get 2,000 to get your own kit - I think it's an unnecessary expense...

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For practically everyone, it is a win-win. But most of all it is a win for IT departments, simultaneously offering them tremendous agility and control.

Overcoming the problems

Enabling BYOD will be painful to begin with, however. There are a host of issues to overcome for a successful VDI-run system.

The main problems are around what is required at the back-end to support a BYOD rollout in particular how scalable it will be.

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"Say your department get it for 50 people, that's great, you can manage that. But 5,000 people bringing in their own device? Are your HR policies right for it? Can you wipe those devices if they go abroad?" Illsley said. "I/O and storage are the two big issues."

There's also the need to decide what kind of virtual desktop model to punt for. Do you go down the route of asking employees to buy certain kinds of devices, or do you just make sure users can only access work apps via a client like Citrix Receiver?

"Some organisations go down the XenClient route, which will say here's some money, go and buy one of these PCs.' Because it has got XenClient on it, IT can then smack an image on it and workers can do whatever else they want with the device," the Ovum analyst told IT Pro.

"Others will say here's some money, go and get a device and we can put Receiver on it and as long as you can put Receiver on it then you can use it.'"

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Citrix itself gives its workers over 2,000 to buy a device for work and play, but it needs to have support with that. Many will not want to spend so much though, as it would utterly negate the proposed benefit of reduced hardware overheads. Mark Diamond, who led the Citrix-based project at RBS, described the Citrix model as a "shambles."

"You get 2,000 to get your own kit - I think it's an unnecessary expense," Diamond said. Clearly how much goes on buying end-user devices, if any, is another area that needs much consideration.

Added to that, there's a culture shift to address, getting users to accept the new model and have them be more productive on it.

That's just a few of the complications IT needs to overcome before VDI and BYOD can be effectively implemented. Once you have BYOD in place though, its numerous comparative benefits over running non-virtualised physical infrastructure make it worth the effort.

BYOD makes sense. When it comes to wide-scale use, thin clients do not. As Diamond says, BYOD is an inevitability.

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