Using a Multi-Tier Thin Client Desktop Strategy

When many organizations refresh their desktop systems, they often use what is essentially a single tier strategy, deploying the same desktop system to all individuals.  The resulting homogenous environment often improves the efficiency of support and enables improved discounts based on volume.  The single-model strategy is frequently unfeasible in many environments however, where there are large populations of ‘standard’ and ‘power user’ populations. In these instances, a multi-tier strategy is often used to address the diverse needs of users.

By continuing the segmentation approach and formalizing its strategy, many organizations take the opportunity to further reduce acquisition and support costs by defining and using additional desktop tiers.  For illustration, three potential tiers could be:

  • Tier 1 – Thin Client: A network booted minimally configured PC that is used by users with only basic computing requirements.  In addition to lower acquisition costs, all administration occurs at the server level resulting in reduced support costs.
  • Tier 2 – Basic Desktop: A fully functional PC with a basic configuration.  This system tier is leveraged by those requiring more power than the thin client tier or the need for non-standard software.
  • Tier 3 – Advanced Workstation: A more powerful PC that is leveraged by those requiring capability greater than the basic desktop.

A similar approach is also frequently used to address laptop requirements or even software, where open source or cloud-based productivity software such as word processing may be a feasible alternative. In some cases, simply piloting the thin client or open source approach can be used as a competitive lever to drive down the pricing of systems and productivity software.

To assess the effectiveness of a multi-tiered desktop strategy, organizations typically initiate a pilot to determine the feasibility of deploying different tiers within its user community.  Initial pilot selection is often based on identification of a small number of administrative staff with straightforward computing requirements in a single location.