Dell Extends the Value/Use Cases for Thin Clients

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 30, 2016

Like many traditional IT products, PCs are in transition along with the customers they serve. Doomsayers who, beginning with the Apple iPad’s introduction in 2010, were quick to proclaim the “death of the PC” have been largely wrong. But at the same time, evolving markets and slowing sales have resulted in significant challenges for PC ecosystem and channel participants.

What are PC vendors doing to address this? For many, a little bit of everything, including aiming at high value/high margin segments such as gaming and virtual reality systems, stretching the value of lower end systems by leveraging supply chain economics and manufacturer relationships, and making the most of complementary technologies, like new CPUs and GPUs, ultra-high def-displays, capacious memory and SSDs and high performance USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity options.

Many of those technological innovations are also percolating into alternative PC form factors and the solutions, including thin and zero clients. This week’s introduction by Dell of its newest Wyse offering provides an interesting perspective on how this trend is progressing in those markets.

Wyse 5060

Achieving optimized price/performance in a highly flexible and efficient package may not have been Dell’s primary goal with the new Wyse 5060 thin client, but the company nailed it anyway. Based on an AMD 2.4GHz quad core processor, the 5060 supports up to 8GB of RAM and up to 64GB of flash storage, delivering 30 percent better performance over the previous generation product.

Sticking with hardware features, the 5060 can support dual 4K (3840×2160) monitors, making it appropriate for a wide range of workplace tasks and scenarios. Connectivity options include six USB ports (two of them USB 3.0 for high-speed peripherals), two DisplayPort connectors, wired networking or wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.

On the operating system side, the 5060 can be purchased at launch with Dell’s own Wyse ThinOS software or with Windows Embedded Standard (WES) 7p. In early 2017, an upgrade to Windows 10 IoT will be available for WES customers, and the 5060 will also be available then with Wyse ThinLinux. Wyse 5060 solutions with ThinOS 8.3.1 can be deployed as both thin clients and zero clients in Citrix installations, including Xenith infrastructures.

The 5060 is also compatible with all major virtual desktop (VDI) platforms, including Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS and VMware Horizon. In addition, the VMware Blast Extreme remote protocol for supporting high performance NVIDIA-based graphics is supported on the WES and ThinLinux-based versions of the Wyse 5060.

Dell offers a full suite of highly scalable on-premises, off-premises and auto management options for the 5060. Plus, IT teams can use the Wyse Device Manager’s intuitive console for streamlined remote configuration and policy management of corporate and user-owned client devices – including thin and zero clients, iOS and Android devices.

Finally, a range of Dell security options is available for the Wyse 5060, including an embedded Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chipset and the ultra-secure, virus-mitigated Wyse ThinOS operating system. Customers opting for Windows-based thin clients can utilize Dell Data Protection/Threat Defense for extra levels of advanced threat protection.

The Wyse 5060 will be available beginning on December 13, 2016 with unit pricing in the Americas ranging from $439 to $599.

Final analysis

The details above reveal a practical solution capable of supporting a remarkable number of hardware and software options, as well as endpoint scenarios. That’s a critical issue given the remarkable range of use cases where thin and zero clients can be employed. However, Dell also notes that the Wyse 5060 is designed for knowledge workers who require powerful virtual desktop performance and support for unified communications solutions like Skype for Business.

In other words, the company recognizes that PC market dynamics reflect fundamental changes in both workplaces and among workforces, and is adapting its Wyse portfolio to support those needs. It also underscores a significant strategic issue—that the time when thin and zero client solutions were being promoted for fully replacing PCs is largely past. Thin and zero clients certainly have strategically important roles but they need to be fully functional and fully integrated within broader heterogeneous endpoint infrastructures.

The PC may have once occupied a sort of “Swiss Army Knife” position in personal technology. However, the ongoing evolution of technology endpoints, user experience and business requirements mean that what constitutes “knowledge work” today is quite different than what it was even just a year or two ago. Dell understands that point in full, and the new Wyse 5060 is just the latest example of the ways in which the company is leveraging its deep experience and highly innovative solutions to benefit business customers.

© 2016 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.