Users considering NCs in favour of PCs should look beyond the cost-of-ownership argument before making their decision, according to leading US research firm Datapro.
According to a new report by the researcher, any attempt to justify NCs primarily on a cost-of-ownership basis are misplaced. Instead, users should look at the overall picture and consider factors such as the relative flexibility of the two models.
John MacGilvary, a chief analyst at Datapro and author of the report, Potential for Network Computers, said: "NCs present a new and more efficient model for allocating resources."
MacGilvary said that compared to today's PC-centric computing model, which doesn't allow excess capacity to be redeployed where it is needed, NCs offer a "dynamic" model.
"This presents a much more powerful incentive for companies to integrate NCs than the potential cost savings that result from swapping one box for another," commented MacGilvary.
Datapro's research found that persuading users to give up their PC with its local file storage could be much easier than predicted. Of the 2,195 US business users surveyed, over 60% said they would consider swapping their PC for an NC.
The research found that intermediate PC users were most receptive to exchanging their PCs for NCs. Only 25% of those surveyed said they would not be interested in using NCs in any shape or form.
"Network computers can deliver significant business benefits when employed in the correct setting with appropriate users," said MacGilvary.
Datapro urged IT managers to overlook the hype and give NCs serious consideration.
It also feared the PC industry could miss out on revenue and market share opportunities by dismissing the NC specification out of hand in favour of Microsoft and Intel's NetPC rival.
"Companies that resist change in the rapidly evolving computer market face significant loss of current and future revenue/market share," Datapro concluded in its report.
However, MacGilvary believed certain applications do lend themselves to a particular computing model. For example, staff who spend most of their working day using computer-intensive applications should retain their PCs, while those running network-based applications would be prime candidates for NCs.
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