I had a chance to speak with Jeff McNaught of Wyse Technology a while ago and didn't have a chance to write about our discussion until now.Jeff explained the company's new line of "Zero Client" hardware products and its TCX Multimedia Software.
Wyse's "Zero Client" hardware offerings include a small monitor-side device and a device that looks very much like a laptop PC that make it possible for an individual to access applications running on a server somewhere. These devices do not have an operating system in them. They only have enough firmware to request software from the network. Since there's nothing for IT to manually install or configure out at the client side, it would certainly make life easier for them.
There appear to be several different approaches to access virtualization. Where the applications actually executie differs from offering to offering. Neoware, Sun, XDS and Wyse offer very simple devices that merely display information and accept input from the user. Neoware, Wyse and others also offer devices that are able interact with presentation managers, such as Microsoft's terminal services, Citrix's Presentation Manager or X-Windows. HP, ClearCube and others use blade computers back in the datacenter as the platform for user applications.
Which is the best approach depends upon the requirements of the organization. All of them appear to live up to the claim of reducing costs of administration, updates and operations even though the hardware might be more expensive than some PCs or Laptops.
Wyse's approach appears sound and would be very beneficial to companies in highly-regulated industries that must be able to control what applicaitons and data members of their staff can see as well as managing what data is left behind on the device after the user logs off.