Last week, mobile phone company One 2 One announced that it would use Metaframe to bring its customer care application for Microsoft Office applications to more than 2,500 customer care agents across three call centres in North London.
Although PCs will remain the main desktop clients, the Citrix Independent Computing Architecture allows One 2 One to link a mission-critical customer billing system run on an HP 9000 V-Class Unix servers in Bristol to London call centres.
The thin-client technology avoids the expense of creating a high-bandwidth client-server network. The call centres access the application via a link of less than 50kbps bandwidth, creating a more cost-effective system. In the future, One 2 One plans to replace the PCs with Windows-based terminals.
However, some users now believe that using Citrix software is an unnecessary step towards the thin-clien model.
When Arco, a distributor of safety equipment, considered a thin-client implementation it was put off by the cost of Citrix software and the relatively long pay-back period. The company instead opted for a cheaper and more flexible alternative from NCD.
Paul Nicholson, IT manager at Arco, says, "NCD offered us a unique alternative to Citrix that allowed us to buy software in the small parts that we needed. The supplier also helps to support pilot projects that proved the technology one way or the other."
Arco is replacing an old VMS system and upgrading to SAP/R3 running on Windows NT. The system runs on Compaq Proliants running four Intel Xeon processors each, with load balancing software from NCD. By early next year the system will provide inventory information to more than 600 users in remote branches at a reduced cost to the PC alternative, says Nicholson.
"There is no IT support at our branches so shipping PCs all over the country was not practical. This will give us global data, allow us to view our stock and give our customers better service," he explains.