Thin is back in

Thin is back in

Resellers look to get fat on Microsoft's new terminal dietThe thin client was supposed to be the device that killed Microsoft. Only, last week it was Microsoft that made the killing.

The software kingpin, backed by a veritable army of third-party suppliers, launched its Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition. Microsoft is now in a position to offer all the total cost of ownership benefits pre-viously used against it by the Java-reliant Network Computer alliance.

While that group is still struggling for credibility and reference sites (see story on right), Microsoft's solution is based on mature and proven Citrix technology that already boasts a bag full of happy customers and giddy resellers.

One of those resellers is Sydney-based Pentrax.

"There's always an open door," said managing director Graham Garton. "IT managers are always willing to listen to this approach because they're familiar with centralised network architecture from their mainframe days."

Pentrax has been a reseller of thin-client vendor NCD for a number of years, selling its WinCentre solution, which is software layered on Citrix WinFrame. It also sells NCD's thin-client terminals.

"The design of the system is quite simple as it's easy to estimate the capacity of the server required. The system can be implemented a lot faster than if you were setting up a host of PCs on desktops and there are a lot of savings for the user from the ongoing maintenace of the system, because all the administration takes place at the server. And the desktop is far more secure because it uses NT security," Garton said.

If Pentrax is able to sell the NCD thin clients as well, the administration savings increase as the desktop never fails, he said. "There are absolutely no moving parts."

Clients that typically go for the full NCD approach are those that also want to incorporate legacy environments as well as their Windows apps, while those that want to preserve large PC investments typically run the thin-client environment on their PCs, Garton said.

Darwin-based Territory Business Solutions (TBS) is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider and a Citrix and NCD partner. According to Chris Coleman, managing director of TBS, the company has been successful with organisations with as few as five users, up to large government departments with several hundred users.

Coleman said the solution has proved fantastic with users trying to deploy PC applications based on platforms like Microsoft Access to remote sites across wide area networks, as the thin-client solution requires very little bandwidth.

"We had one customer and it was taking remote users an hour to run a report. With the Citrix WinFrame environment it took a minute, because everything happened locally at the server and you weren't trying to move massive amounts of data across a network," he said.

Stable environment

"Once you show it to a user in their environment we've found we've had a very good success rate."

TBS has even had great success deploying it internally.

"We had one consultant who basically worked full-time on our in-house systems. Now all of my consultants are out in the field because it's just so stable," said Coleman.

Microsoft surprised many at last week's announcement by not charging any extra for the Windows Terminal Edition of NT 4.0. It costs exactly as much as standard NT 4.0.

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