Thin client and cloud computing technology can halve IT costs for SMEs, according to university researchers.
Researchers at Lancaster University found that any business with more than six employees can halve their IT spend with thin clients. Compared with traditional PCs, thin clients cut maintenance costs by 71%, hardware and capital expenditure was down 61%, and energy costs were reduced by 51%.
The study, commissioned by thin client supplier Thinspace, is believed to be the first to examine the lifetime cost of ownership for thin client computing for firms with fewer than 100 staff. Thinspace has used the findings to develop a cost-benefit calculator.
The study was conducted by Lancaster MBA students earlier this year. Taking a model firm with 25 employees, one server and using owned PCs with third-party support as the benchmark, they compared five typical IT scenarios.
Pure thin client came in at 45% of base total cost of ownership (TCO); thin client with "back-up server" was 58% of TCO, leased PCs with third-party support was 96%; while employing an internal IT person to manage the PCs almost doubled the total cost.
"Thin client coupled with cloud computing, higher network bandwidth, more advanced security and choice of business application offers real economic benefits to SMEs," said Lisa Layzell, CEO of Thinspace.
Analyst firm IDC said recently that more than 1.2 million thin clients will ship in 2010 - an increase of 20% on 2009. The UK's largest thin client deployment is being undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions, which is implementing a £300m programme for 140,000 desktops aimed at reducing IT maintenance and power costs.