Prince Charles has discovered thin clients and finds the notion they can help cut energy costs "mind boggling".
Speaking at the Second May Day Business Summit on Climate Change on Monday, HRH referred to the example of a recruitment company that claims to have reduced its power usage by migrating to thin clients.
"Many of the case studies we received highlight the business benefits of developing and incorporating a low carbon strategy — not least the real, tangible, bottom-line savings that would delight the heart of even the frostiest finance director," he said. "The recruitment company, Reed, for instance, has reduced its PC power use by 80 percent by replacing 4,500 PCs and 400 laptops with 'thin-client terminals'. The mind boggles! I have never heard of that one before."
Thin-client technology has been around for nearly as long as there has been a computing industry, but has enjoyed a resurgence of late thanks to the push to conserve energy.
Sun claims its Sun Ray thin-client device delivers a 75 percent energy saving over the average PC, not least because of better resource utilisation. The Rural Payments Agency, which deployed 4,200 of the Sun machines last year, expects to make electricity savings of Â£174,000 per annum as well as reduce its carbon footprint by 260 tonnes each year, according to Sun.
However, Kris Kumar, director of datacentre design specialists 3i Group, claims virtualisation and thin computing simply move the energy problem from the desktop to the datacentre.
"If you adopt a thin-computing approach and then realise the datacentre cannot cope, you will use band-aid approaches to fixing that problem, which will never be optimum," he said.
Prince Charles also referred to moves made by BT and Vodafone to promote home working, and described the steps companies must take to tackle climate change.
"I am no longer at risk of being a blinding nuisance — I am a blinding nuisance! What more can I do but urge you, this country's business leaders, to take the essential action now to make your businesses more sustainable. I am exhausted with repeating that there really is no time to lose," said the Prince.