Retailer seeks thin client savings

Arcadia, the UK's largest clothing retailer which includes high street chains Evans, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is planning to...

Arcadia, the UK's largest clothing retailer which includes high street chains Evans, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is planning to roll out thin clients to 80% of its 3,500 desktop users, after achieving significant savings during a pilot deployment in Leeds.

The company expects the implementation of Wyse Technology thin clients, running on Microsoft Windows 2000 and Citrix XP application software, to achieve a return on investment within two years.

"We expect the cost savings to fall into two main areas," said Gareth Hill, IT director at Arcadia. "The total cost of ownership will come down in terms of investment and the support costs will fall in terms of the number of people needed to run the system."

The total cost of running PCs was rising every time Arcadia replaced any of its software, said Hill.

"We tend to acquire and dispose of brands on a regular basis and the cost of software is always increasing," he said. "We also took into account the cost of Microsoft's licensing changes but this was not the prime consideration."

Companies sometimes face user revolt when switching from traditional desktop PCs to thin clients but this was not a concern for Arcadia, Hill said. "If we identify a real business need for a PC we will keep it in place but this will mainly be for high end users," he said. "If there is no real need it is better for the business anyway."

The biggest issue for Arcadia is raising user awareness of how the thin clients function, Hill said.

"Users were used to IT staff coming down and fixing their PCs rather than from a central location," he said. "They kept complaining that nobody had turned up, when in fact the problem was solved immediately."

Implementing the thin clients will open up a range of new opportunities for Arcadia, Hill said.

"Lots of our users are field-based so we are trialling handhelds to allow them to access company information remotely," he said. "Also the system will allow buyers in the Far East to access information via the Web."

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