By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. August 27, 2014
At VMworld, Dell Wyse announced several new or updated cloud client computing solutions. These included:
- New Dell Wyse 3000 series dual core thin clients with Windows 7. A new low- to mid-market dual core thin client designed for mid- to high-end thin client that can be configured to support numerous key applications.
- New wi-fi enabled PCoIP capabilities for the Dell Wyse 5000 series all-in-one (AIO) thin client, resulting in highly responsive virtual desktop experience that makes this solution a good fit for most virtual desktop applications
- Updates to its quad core D class 5000 and Z class 7000 thin clients, including support for Dell Wyse-enhanced SUSE Linux. The resulting powerful processing and rich graphics capabilities, security against malware and viruses and deployment and management simplicity make this solution ideal for situations where high-end graphics are a must.
With virtualization and cloud, the sky’s the limit for Dell’s Wyse solutions.
That x86 virtualization has fundamentally changed the shape of 21st century computing is undeniable. The business IT landscape leading up to Y2K was crowded with proprietary computing platforms, but since then, all but a small handful were supplanted by x86-based systems, mostly running Intel’s ever evolving Xeon silicon. Virtualization provided the “secret sauce” server vendors needed to improve and maximize the flexibility and efficiencies of those commodity systems. In fact, without virtualization, the past decade of sunny x86 sales would likely have been cold and stormy.
But while virtualization impacted most business computing applications and use cases, it is arguable that thin client computing was the area most deeply affected. Before VMware, Microsoft and Citrix pushed desktop virtualization further forward, thin clients were interesting if lightly used solutions that never quite lived up to their hype. In fact, they were seldom seen outside of geographically narrow applications, such as help centers, trading floor applications and computer labs, along with occasional adventurous corporate customers and true believers.
Flash forward to the market today where Dell can brag of numerous customers deploying tens of thousands of Wyse cloud client desktops, workstations and other solutions. Not just that, but IDC’s latest market sizing numbers found longtime sector leader HP surrendering its position to Dell, which now owns nearly 30% of the thin and terminal client market. So why the significant jump in interest/investment in these solutions, and what is Dell doing right?
Consider that prior to virtualization, thin clients were nominally capable endpoints hardwired to dedicated “PC servers” with on-board storage. Virtualization allowed vendors and their customers to do away with that clumsy architecture and replace it with solutions that massively consolidated client workloads and data onto far fewer and more powerful servers.
That, along with technologies that substantially enhanced system latency and extended geographical limitations allowed potential customers to view thin clients in a new light. In addition, virtualization allowed for the development of infrastructures that could flexibly support use cases, from barebones knowledge worker requirements to engineering and graphics programs that needed the highest levels of sophisticated graphics capabilities.
Cloud innovations provided further benefits, particularly in terms of increased flexibility and adaptability, which allowed vendors to position solutions for new markets and customers. Dell understood these changes early on and made an ambitious step up into the market with its 2012 acquisition of Wyse, the leader in dedicated thin and terminal client solutions. In essence, Wyse provided the endpoints that Dell then integrated with its own cloud and backend systems, setting the table for new “cloud client” solutions. So what do these newest solutions say about the vitality of Dell’s efforts?
Quite a bit, actually.
In essence, some of the new products fit into a “better, faster, more efficient” go-to-market model. For example, the new Dell Wyse 3000 replaces the stalwart Wyse C Class endpoint by delivering 4X better compute and 2X better graphics (via Intel “Baytrail” CPUs). Along with being just as easy to manage and maintain as preceding C Class solutions, the 3000 series draws less than 6W of power. In fact, Dell says that pilot customers with large scale (50k+ endpoints) deployments claim the new solutions are helping them to save over $100k in annual power costs.
In contrast, adding support for Dell Wyse-enhanced SUSE Linux to the quad core D class 5000 and Z class 7000 thin clients is a new market play. In essence, Dell is positioning these devices as solutions for delivering superb graphics in high-end engineering use cases, supporting unified communications processes and even replacing aging industrial applications and archaic terminals with new, far more reliable hardware.
Finally, adding PCoIP capabilities to the 5000 series (AIO) thin client should significantly improve both virtual desktop performance and IT management. In essence, Dell has wi-fi-enabled its Wyse PCoiP software (licensed from Teradici) and also supported full video redirection. That is in stark contrast to other solutions that require wired LAN connections, but it also means that the 5000 series AIOs place less of a load on the servers and network. As a result, owners can achieve better scalability, while end users enjoy enhanced multimedia performance
These points are all to the good, but by delivering the goods with the 5000 series, Dell is making a solid play at pitching AIO solutions for day to day knowledge worker use cases and thus allow customers to get off the PC upgrade bandwagon. If the company can succeed here, it could persuasively introduce AIO thin clients to a host of new and future market opportunities.
Overall, we believe these new Dell cloud client computing solutions build on past success but also have a clear eye on future markets and opportunities. Over the past half-decade and more, Dell has steadily evolved from being a maker of somewhat mundane PCs to becoming a vendor of numerous, successful end-to-end solutions, including cloud clients. As such, these new solutions certainly highlight what Dell sees as part of the future of desktop business computing, but in doing so, they also cast light on the company’s own future.
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