UK recession but your IT needs upgrading – here is one possible answer….use dumb clients!

In January 2009 (3 years, 2 months ago at time of writing) time flies whether you are having fun or not, the BBC announced the UK had entered a recession

Most business owners agree that it has got harder over the last 3 years but life goes on. Businesses and public sector are finding their budgets shrinking year on year yet critical IT systems still need to be maintained or even upgraded.

Where do you find the money? This isn’t going to be an article on new found government funding schemes (sorry to disappoint) but instead I will talk about a very old technology that is making a come back. The dumb client.

Now some of you will be reading this thinking I’m about to insult all our clients by calling them dumb, I’m not. They are not. Especially not my clients, they buy from me. What is dumb about that?

No, in truth, I use the term to describe the computer client (PCs or Laptops) not people who buy from us.

In the early days of computing we had big main frame computers that served dumb client workstations and Microsoft have launched a product that takes us full circle and back to those early days. This saves businesses money because you don’t need to upgrade your workstations.

The more workstations you use the more money this can save.

The product I am referring to here is Microsoft Multipoint. With Multipoint a single server can drive many workstations. Each Multipoint Server can run 20 workstations but you can have multiple multipoint servers running on a single box using virtualisation.

If the above sentence is a bit confusing don’t worry. I’ll keep the rest of this simple.

You spend some money on a Multipoint Server. How much? Well that depends on how many client PCs you want it to run and whether you need to use a lot of multi media applications. A small accounting office would get away with less than £1,500 whereas a School running 65 laptops would need to spend closer to £8,500 because pupils use a lot of video and animations and accountants use accounting packages and spreadsheets. That is a bit of a generalisation but hopefully you understand.

The laptops and PCs you are thinking of upgrading won’t need any upgrades whatsoever.

A dumb terminal gets its name from not having to use the processor very much, hardly any disc space and little memory. To make this point another example:

A laptop or PC running Windows XP with half a gigabyte of RAM (as a dumb client) can run Windows 7 as fast as you like with all the latest applications such as Office 2010 etc because the Multipoint Server will do all the work not the laptop or PC.

We only use the PC for its keyboard, mouse and display. The PC will boot up, connect you to Multipoint and you log into it.

In Schools this is great because it saves a lot of money but also allows quick deployment of new applications. Install an application once to the Multipoint Server and all the users can run it immediately. But whilst working with a School to put this together and save them money I realised it will work for business just as well.

No need to upgrade those old PCs but instead spend the money on Multipoint and you should save overall.

Simple Example

10 new laptops £5,000 – Approximate price of £500 each.


1 Multipoint server for £1,500

Life is never that simple and once again every business is slightly different but it is worth taking a look. There may still be life in those old machines yet.

More detail on Multipoint in later posts. In the meantime here is the Multipoint Official Microsoft Demo Vedeo.

About Paul G Howes

I'm the founder of itauthority in the UK. I started this company to help small businesses make better use of the IT they purchase. Many buy tech for the wrong reasons or buy something and then realised they don't have the time to make the most of it. How many unused programs are installed on your system? So I'm all about getting the most from IT. My other interests: I love music above most other things, I'm a pilot, I'm building myself a recording studio, I'm a magician - member of the Ilford Magical Society, as well as a runner & cyclist.
This entry was posted in 2012 Mar Issue 3, Education and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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