Registered: Jan, 2002
Re: The Desktop as a Grid Service
Posted: Feb 15, 2006 10:11 AM
Prior to trying them out, I had no idea how thin clients worked and what user experience they provided. Thus, I assumed that using a thin client meant having to give up functionality for sysadmin convenience. In other words, I thought that, as you mention, thin clients provided inadaquate functionality.
I was very surprised to find that well-designed thin clients do not take anything away from using a desktop. If anything, they add to that experience, in that you can access many desktops simultaneously from a thin client, and that you don't have to sitting next to a computer to access a desktop running on that system.
For example, on the Sun display grid, there is an icon on the Gnome desktop that points to a Windows desktop. Clicking on that icon causes the Windows desktop to display, and I can even make that Windows desktop run in full-screen mode.
While this has worked for some time very well over LANs, the interesting thing now is how such systems can be extended to work on the WAN, i.e., the Internet. For most business applications, e.g., MS Office, Web browsing, email, etc., this already works with acceptable performance. Because of the nature of these applications (relatively infrequent screen updates, etc), accessing a business-oriented desktop via a WAN thin client is already a viable possibility without losing any functionality (it's the same desktop you get when sitting next to the computer).
> > I just don't see many reasons why an
> > organization would want to deploy full-fledged PCs to
> > desktops, since most work done in a business setting
> > be done eminently well via a thin-client. Perhaps there
> > are special cases, e.g., graphic design or engineering,
> > etc.
> This sounds dangerously close to the argument given by so
> many system administrators that think they know better
> than the users, what the users want.
> I think one of the core reasons for the success of PCs on
> desktops in business is precisely that it allows the users
> to decide what they want. Sure, they get lots of
> functionality they don't need and it's a maintenance
> headache for the SAs. But when the alternative is
> inadequate functionality and denial of access to useful
> tools because someone else thinks they know better than
> the users do, what they need, then the users will take the
> option that gives them the most freedom every time.