Finally, the desktop PC no longer needs a desktop

By Joel Shore, ITworld |  Opinion

Remember, not too many years back, what the typical server room looked
like? It was row after row of Compaq Systempro servers sitting on metal
Metro shelving units. Inside each server you'd find more empty space
than actual components. What a waste.

A few years later, Compaq finally got it right and started marketing its
now-ubiquitous rack-mount servers. Never mind that companies like the
still-in-business Cubix (which had dubbed itself "first in blade
servers") and the long-defunct Morton Management were doing this in the
early 1990s.

A few years ago, servers finally shrunk to the so-called blade format,
just 1U or 2U in height. The density of today's blade servers compared
with those Systempros of yesteryear is nothing short of mind boggling.

Over the years, attempts also have been made to shrink the real-estate
hogging desktop PC. You may recall one effort, the Earth Station from
Alloy, an early 1990s effort to stuff processor, video, memory, hard
drive, and floppy drive into a keyboard chassis only slightly bigger
than what IBM was shipping with its PCs. If it was security that you
were after, the floppy drive could be omitted.

Well, HP is at it again, and what they're up to has to be very, very
good news for any solution provider who'd rather not walk from desk to
desk every time PCs need upgrading.

First announced in Dec. 2003, HP this week said its Blade PC, the model
bc1000, is now widely available. It's a great idea.

A blade PC is a client computer that sits in a rack in a company's
server room. That's right, all the PCs in a corporation can now be
locked up in a central location. Think of the physical security. Think
of the I/O security. Think of how easy it is to maintain them. To log on
from one's desk, a user connects through a small thin client that sits
on the desktop.

According to HP (and, of course, you've got to take this with a grain of
salt), total lifetime cost of ownership can be slashed by as much as 50
percent. Well, even if it's really only half of that, it's still an idea
whose time has come.

The blade PC is part of the HP's Consolidated Client Infrastructure
(CCI) solution, which includes blade servers. The goal of CCI, according
to HP is to offer a "virtualized PC solution enabling businesses to
consolidate and optimize computing and storage resources for better
security and manageability while maintaining a high-quality,
personalized desktop experience for end-users." Yeah, it's a mouthful of
marketing double talk, but I'm ready to sign up.

Keith LeFebvre, Vice President of Business PCs for HP's North America
Personal Systems Group, says that, according to recent studies,
enterprise companies may spend as much as $8,000 to maintain a
traditional PC throughout its lifecycle, and that CCI can cut that IT
figure in half.

There's another way to save, too, one that you have no way to calculate
using your current ROI model.

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