Reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with Thin Clients and Server-based Computing
A typical migration to server-based computing (SBC) with thin clients can now cut the overall costs (TCO) of an IT infrastructure by up to 70%. Modern server environments and universally deployable thin clients can increase these savings even more. These savings are achieved in the following different ways:
Reducing overall costs (TCO)
To make a comprehensive cost comparison between PC-based and thin client environments, all expenses associated with the investment in and operation of these respective infrastructures must be taken into account. This overall, bottom-line amount is the total cost of ownership (TCO). A correspondingly detailed economic analysis was recently conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) located in Oberhausen, Germany. This study reveals that, compared directly to a manually managed PC, a thin client yields a savings of up to 70%.
Reducing management costs
The typical potential for savings inherent in a thin client infrastructure is based, among other things, on its ability to be centrally managed. Group-based and profile-based remote management with the IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS) means that local configuration of IT end-user devices is no longer necessary (no more "sneaker-based" network management!).
For the independent insurance broker PRO INVEST the decreased maintenance costs are the key argument in favor of thin clients. These costs for a comparable PC-based environment, 17850 euros, would be five times higher than those for their thin client one. The reason: Thomas Guttmann can manage the server, the thin clients and the applications remotely from Berlin. As Guttmann puts it: "The thin clients come standard with the Universal Management Suite, which allows all management functions, including firmware updates, to be handled remotely. On the other hand, with PCs we would have to travel from Berlin to Hanover to constantly install updates and patches on site. In short, the support process would be much like it had been before."
Reducing support costs
The fashion and sporting-goods retailer Kastner & Öhler (Graz, Austria) has cut its support costs with the help of IGEL thin clients and the IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS). "The intuitively structured thin client management system has really helped to significantly reduce the management workload for our IT team," says Kastner & Öhler's IT manager Helmut Wolf. "As a result of this change, compared to 2006 we can manage just about 20% more workstations with the same number of IT personnel while at the same time providing considerably more services."
Reducing power consumption
Energy Star certified thin clients use far less energy than PCs and can cut CO2 emissions by over 77%. What is more, these drops also take the associated server capacity and cooling requirements of the computer center into account. Savings in energy consumption often have a significant influence on the return on investment (ROI).
Reducing fixed costs (overhead)
Deploying thin clients can permanently minimize the large blocks of fixed costs associated with enterprise IT. In fact, this step can even transform some of these overheads into variable costs. The procurement considerations that matter today, such as sustainability, efficiency and resource usage, are often at odds with a conventional PC environment. In this case, the high costs incurred during the acquisition, operation and management of PC-based IT can increase fixed costs, thus unnecessarily tying up capital.
According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT), the hardware alone in a PC-based environment accounts for 51% of procurement costs; with thin clients, these costs are only 37%. With their longer service life of six to eight years, thin clients cut IT costs. This benefits user cost centers, which normally are charged for their proportionally calculated expense shares (for order processing, initial installation, configuration, upgrading and replacement parts) that accrue in usage-based accounting. In addition, they would also bear the costs of service calls and the expenses due to loss of productivity.
Additional potential savings through soft migration
With the IGEL Universal Desktop Converter (UDC), PCs and thin clients from certain other manufacturers can be economically converted into functionally standardized IGEL thin clients. This interim step enables gradual introduction of these technologies and minimizes the initial procurement costs for new client hardware.
The German market leader in car servicing, A.T.U. Auto-Teile-Unger (Unger Auto Parts), is centralizing the IT in its service centers and moving to thin client solutions from IGEL. A.T.U will convert 4,000 store PCs into thin clients in order to stagger the total spend in the desktop area and protect its existing investment. Sales Director Manfred Gerlach sees this as a considerable cost advantage because a UDC license, starting from just 29 euros, is only a fraction of the price of a physical thin client. "Thanks to the software solution from IGEL, we can stagger the total spend on the company-wide migration over a longer time frame. The PC hardware is largely depreciated and we can perform the conversion easily and economically."
Following the cloud: The city of Bergheim compares its own desktops costs with the Fraunhofer study
A detailed cost analysis by the City of Bergheim, Germany reveals the potential savings to be obtained from an in-house, centralized virtual IT environment featuring IGEL thin clients. According to the analysis conducted by the City of Bergheim in 2011, the costs for a thin client workstation with centralized application provisioning and virtualized servers amount to 292 euros. By comparison, a decentralized PC environment with software distribution would cost 444 euros per workstation. The City of Bergheim performed its cost/benefit analysis in a manner similar to the method described in the latest, updated study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) entitled "Thin Clients 2011 – Ecological and Economical Aspects of Virtual Desktops".
In fact, unlike the Fraunhofer study from 2011, which only examined a five-year period, the City of Bergheim also analyzed the annual costs of desktops based on a not unusual thin client service life of seven years – assuming the continued availability of firmware updates for the devices. Over this extended period, the annual desktop costs amounted to 245 euros, which is 44.8% less than those for a decentralized PC environment.
Cost Comparison of Virtualization (Yes/No Analysis) over Product Service Life
Source: Fraunhofer Study 2008/2001 / City of Bergheim