The introduction of thin client devices into organisations will alter the role of corporate IS departments and change the way they are viewed in the business.
But network computers (NCs) should not be seen as a panacea and will not replace PCs. Instead they will sit side by side with fat clients and be used to run alternative applications.
These are the views of a panel that met to discuss 'The promise of NCs versus the reality' at the Comdex show in Las Vegas today.
Jeff McNaught, general manager of the thin client unit at Wyse Technology, said: ?The role of IS staff changes dramatically as you introduce Ncs into the corporation. They don?t need to run around from PC to PC any more sorting out problems, but can move from a reactive, tactical mode to a strategic planning one."
He continued: "It?s not a question of laying people off - it means they can do strategic work that they haven?t had time for before and this changes the way IS is viewed in the organisation.?
But he also argued that NCs were not the solution to everything and organisations needed to deploy the appropriate device for any given application.
Although he cited Gartner Group statistics as indicating that about 70 per cent of current desktops are candidates for replacement by NCs, he added that enterprises would contain a mixture of both machines.
Michael Kantrowitz, executive vice president of Neoware Systems, explained: ?There are too many people looking at this situation through binary glasses, but the industry is in the process of growing up, so we?ll see segmentation of the market and people will use different solutions where appropriate.?
While PCs were most suitable for knowledge workers that needed processing power on their desktops, he added, NCs worked best in hazardous environments where it was best to have as few physical parts that could go wrong as possible.
They were also useful in organisations with security concerns, which meant data should not be stored locally, and in fixed function environments such as retail, where it was important to keep down maintenance costs.
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