As the technology pendulum pursues perpetual motion, its direction is unquestionably away from the more traditional desktop / pc-based platform as we know it, and toward the remote computing model. We are all using a variety of more connected tools, via laptops, ultra books, i-pads, ‘Droids, and smart phones. And let’s not forget the current storage fad, “The Cloud.” (More on that in another post.) Some leading-edge construction projects now REQUIRE ipads (or Android) tablets be issued to field personnel. Because it saves time and money, that’s why! Web-based programs for project management, time collection, and other industry-related hosted apps are commonplace.
Meanwhile, back at the desktop, most of us are using Citrix or a Remote Desktop client daily. For many companies it IS the primary platform. Why save files on a local pc, accessible to one, when the data can reside on the company’s server, available to all, (who need to know)? Why should an IT department have to maintain 10, 50, 100, (or several hundred) individuals’ laptops and pc’s, when it can focus on a well-run server array, accessible by thin-client workstations instead? The savings in personnel hours, having only to upgrade software on a few servers instead, is huge.
As we’ve been reviewing the purchase of workstations for our new staff, we can’t find a good reason to buy pc’s or even laptops right now. Thin clients (with dual display ports to drive high-res monitors, wired internet connection, and 2gb of built-in RAM), can be purchased for about $300 each, roughly half the cost (or less) of an entry level, business-grade pc. Top of the line with wireless networking runs about another hundred dollars. It’s a no-brainer for us. We’re already using Windows Remote Desktop, and no longer save anything to our local hard drives, even when we’re on an airplane. Yes we will still have to buy monitors, but dual high-res video displays is one of the cheapest investments a company can make to increase productivity at the workstation.
While on the subject of hardware, as mentioned in the previous post, tablets are already replacing laptops & ultrabooks in substantial numbers. It’s still true that we road warriors need more portable computer than a tablet can deliver. But we anticipate most of those sold next year to be some type of convertible-tablet-ultra book. In order to take advantage of Windows 8, touch screen capability is close to being mandatory, further distancing the laptop from the device of choice. In five years only geezers will own ’em. The PC as we know it is obsolete.