It is a physically small low-powered (both in terms of computing power and electrical power consumption) computer. It has no mechanical disk and has an operating system and a few basic applications embedded in some flash memory along with some RAM. It's been designed to effectively act as a terminal to a central server. Usually the operating system is an embedded version of Windows CE, Windows CE.NET, Windows NT or Windows XP and the "applications" are implementations for Windows Terminal Services (RDP) and Citrix ICA.
The concept behind them is for businesses to run all of their applications on a central group of servers and have users remotely log onto a desktop session on these servers to access their applications and data. The advantages with this type of set-up are centralised management and reduced hardware cost as users only need a small, inexpensive client device (the thin terminal) instead of a fully functional desktop computer.
- Application scenario
- Distruibuted Databases
- E-mail and web browsing terminals
- Web Server (HTTP, DHCP)
- Wireless access points
- An internet radio/music player
Thin client solutions can provide impressive cost savings in comparision to using the standard thick client approach but only if these solutions are designed, tested and deployed suitably.
It could lead to a nightmare scenario if not handled properly.
Design is split into a Logical and a Physical design elements. Requirements gathering and analysis are the most important stages.
The logical design looks at the services and components used in developing the solution. If the logical design is not done accurately then this can have a knock on effect on other project stages, from the development of the low level design to the testing and deployments of the solution.
The physical design breaks the logical services and components into physical elements such as individual servers, including naming, addressing conventions and resilience configurations.
Deployment is made easier with an appropriate physical design, ensuring uniformity. Components utilisation are identically configured, which further reduces likelihood of problems.