Thin Client Technology, IBM, and a Computing World Without Microsoft

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about the possibilities offered by thin client technology. So long, in fact, that much of what I predicted is finally coming to pass. I’ve written about the rise of Application Service Providers (ASPs) in such articles as “AN ASP IN THE LEGAL GARDEN OF EDEN: ENJOY THE APPLE AND AVOID THE SNAKEBITE” and “IS THERE A CHEAPER COMPUTER IN YOUR FUTURE?” as well as “WEB-ENABLED APPLICATIONS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS.” It’s dissapointing that it took so long for the ASP paradigm to gain momentum in the legal industry, mostly due to concerns over content security, ownership, discovery issues, and so forth. The same consternation which greeted the arrival of the fax machine, and then email, as forms of communication for the law firm and its clients was applied to every possible parameter of an ASP environment.

Before the entire ASP concept was embraced, some firms gingerly explored thin client technology internally as a way to improve security, lower technology infrastructure maintenance requirements, and especially to provide more reliable and improved performance for those working on a virtual office (e.g. remote office) basis.

Now, according to an article in CNet News, IBM is launching a Linux-based collection of virtual-desktop applications that run on a server without the need for desktop hardware–or Microsoft software. The Linux-based software package, which is available now, runs on a back-office server and is accessible to customers using thin client workstations. The Virtual Linux Desktop ranges in price from $59 to $289 per user, depending on level of software and service desired. IBM estimates this could translate to a saving of up to $800 per user, when compared with the cost of maintaining Microsoft’s Vista operating system, Office suite, and collaboration tools.

We’re not talking chump change here folks! That’s a significant savings. If Linux is not on your radar screen, it should be. It’s an open-source very solid operating system which has been around for quite some time, with a very low total cost of ownership.

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