Thin clients are back on the agenda at IBM, after the company announced a partnership with the specialist thin-client supplier Wyse Technology.
On Monday, Wyse said in a statement that the two companies will be using IBM's Virtual Infrastructure Access service to build virtualised systems based on a thin-client infrastructure. IBM will use its Global Services division to do this.
Thin clients are systems that usually do not have a hard disk, mainly depending on a centralised server for processing — in contrast, a standard PC is known as a 'fat client'. A thin client will therefore generally be just a terminal, so it should be less expensive than a PC and consume less power.
"Wyse has been a customer of IBM for some time, but this is a much more formal relationship," David Angwin, director of marketing for Wyse EMEA, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. "It is primarily about virtualisation."
According to Angwin, the companies are going to use Wyse's expertise in thin-client systems in conjunction with virtualisation products from companies such as VMware and Citrix. Both of these companies produce hypervisors and related products for virtual environments.
"We produce hardware products like the thin-client terminals, but we also have some expertise in thin-client software," Angwin said. "We have products that work with VoIP systems, streaming technology and in many other areas, all optimised for thin clients."
Companies are taking an interest in thin clients because of the cash and energy savings they offer, Angwin said: "The technology can help you reduce capital and operating costs, and thin clients use less power than PCs."
Angwin said the thin clients would be priced at around £170-£180 at the low end, and £400-£500 at the high end.
They could attract "any kind of company", Angwin said, but he suggested thin clients were especially popular with national and local government.