How to save money by converting your old desktops into terminals

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As organizations continue to struggle with the down economy, “doing more with less” is a phrase becoming more and more common in the halls of IT.  IT managers continue to look for ways to reduce expenditures while maintaining reasonable service levels in order to put scarce resources more directly into initiatives to help sustain and, if possible, grow the company.

Anything that requires a significant recurring outlay of capital should be on the CIO’s target list for modification.  One such expense is the desktop infrastructure.  With the continuing growth of the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market, CIOs have a number of options when it comes to overhauling the desktop environment, including terminal services.  I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of VDI and terminal services in this posting, but will focus on the client side of the equation.

Traditionally, IT managers have replaced desktops on a defined replacement cycle.  The length of a replacement cycle varies, depending on need and budget, but eventually a desktop either fails or becomes obsolete.

When you decide to change the desktop paradigm by introducing VDI or terminal services, you can save a lot of upfront money by simply turning your existing PCs into terminals.  If you’re under Microsoft Software Assurance, you can use Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP).  Based on Windows XP Embedded, WinFLP contains a feature subset of the full Windows XP client.  Because WinFLP does not have the same features and tools set as Windows XP, it's nimbler and more responsive on older hardware.  Although many software titles can run directly on a WinFLP installation, its true values comes into play when coupled with a virtual infrastructure or terminal server.  WinFLP includes an RDP client, so you can boot to WinFLP and initiate an RDP connection to a server.  With WinFLP, you can also install the Citrix ICA client if you desire.

If your organization is not covered under Software Assurance, you can also convert your existing workstations into terminals by installing a Linux client.  There are a whole host of lightweight Linux clients available out there and Linux-based RDP clients are readily available, as are Citrix ICA clients.

Although those old desktops will eventually fail, by converting them to thin clients, you might eek a couple more years out of them and help your organization better ride out these rough economic times.

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