A great paradigm shift is occurring across much of the industrial landscape. As virtualization and thin-client technology have matured, more manufacturers are minimizing their reliance on highly-distributed computing in favor of a more centralized approach.
In some ways, this transition reflects the classic “what was old is new again” scenario. Before the rise of personal computers (PCs), manufacturers accessed computing power via “dumb terminals” linked to mainframes. The terminal, which did not have an operating system, was simply a means to access the processing power of the mainframe.
However, this approach was supplanted by powerful PCs with expansive memory, impressive processor speeds and user-friendly interfaces. As a result, today most plant floors are characterized by a complex network of expensive to maintain desktop operating systems.
To better manage their processes, companies are increasingly taking a closer look at industrial thin clients that minimize reliance on PCs. Much like the dumb terminals of old, thin clients do not have hard drives or operating systems – but are built to provide remote access to servers where the processing power resides.
Using modern network technologies and powerful software tools, companies can enable secure, centralized configuration and delivery of applications and content from the server to every PC, thin client, mobile device and user.
And companies that are transitioning to thin-client platforms are expecting OEMs to deliver machines that can play in this environment.
It’s About Efficiency, Simplicity & Security
For both end users and machine builders, making the shift to thin clients for content management delivers significant benefits.
For end users, reducing the number of operating systems lowers the total cost of ownership substantially. There are fewer software licenses and less hardware to purchase and maintain.
Centralizing the content also simplifies application and device management for end users and machine builders alike. Deploying a new application or patch to a server-based system is more efficient than executing the update on multiple PCs across a multi-machine production line.
Thin-client technology also inherently improves system security. While secure content is accessible via a thin client, all data and programming information is managed and stored on the server.