A comparative analysis on the total cost of ownership between thin-clients and fat-clients in an outsourced desktop environment.
More than ever, business leaders are focused on growing revenues, containing costs and providing a higher level of customer support, whilst reducing the cost of business support activities, such as information technology costs. One method of achieving these apparently contradictory goals is through the use of thin-client computing. There has certainly been a contradicting view held by many industry pundits such as Gartner and International Data Corporation on whether this is indeed the case. This dissertation is a case study that focuses on what thin-client technology's impact is on the Total Cost of Ownership in the desktop computing environment relative to the traditional use of laptops and PCs, now commonly referred to as fat-clients. The factors and elements that contribute to a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for desktop computing will be explored. This study endeavors to douse the contradictory philosophies that claim for and against a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in deploying thin-clients. The literature review presented outlines the contradictions in philosophies. Research will be undertaken on National Ship Chandlers, which is in the largest ship chandler in Africa. National Ship Chandlers was migrated from a fat-client to a thin-client environment in 2002. National Ship Chandlers management seeks to understand whether they have realised a lower Total Cost of Ownership as a result of the migration. In this context, this study seeks to clarify which of the computing environments, thin-clients or fat-clients yield a lower Total Cost of Ownership within an outsourced desktop environment. In so doing it may assist in bringing clarity to the ongoing feud on the contradicting philosophies and technology claims. There has been no significant academic research undertaken on the Total Cost of Ownership of thin-clients in relation to fat-clients in an outsourced desktop environment. Both qualitative and quantitative research techniques are employed. The conclusions from this will be evaluated and presented. Based on these findings recommendations will be made to National Ship Chandlers management on a strategic direction for their desktop computing environment. This study reveals that for an outsourced desktop computing environment using thin-clients, National Ship Chandlers could realise an approximate 23% saving over a fat-client implementation. This excludes the benefits that can be realised from aspects of information security, ease of the operational platform and greater system availability. Thin-client technology has provides CEOs and CIOs compelling reasons to deploy as a desktop computing architecture and will continue to grow its' market-share into the future.