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Solutions | Virtual Desktop | 4 min read

Best Thin Clients for Hybrid Office Environments in 2023

Nick Bambulas
Written by Nick Bambulas

Hybrid work environments have grown in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue. That’s why organizations are increasingly re-evaluating their data infrastructure and considering the use of thin clients.

A thin client is a secure endpoint that supports virtual desktop users. They allow multiple users to log in and access a central point where all of the computer processing is done. In years past, this was typically done through servers physically located at the organization. Today, thin clients also have the option to be connected to a cloud-based server environment such as Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).

Is your organization considering the use of thin clients? Read on!

We’ve gathered answers to some of the most common questions in order to assist you in your evaluation to determine if thin clients might be right for your organization and which types might be a better fit for your workforce:

  1. What Does a Thin Client Look Like?
  2. How Does a Thin Client Work?
  3. What is Azure Virtual Desktop?
  4. What Organizations Can Benefit From This Technology?
  5. What are the Benefits of Thin Clients and AVD?
  6. Which Thin Client Should I Buy?
  7. What is a Technology Needs Assessment?

1. What Does a Thin Client Look Like?

In an office environment, you may have seen a thin client as a small black box attached to a screen, keyboard and mouse. Or, more recently, a thin client can be built-in to a specialized laptop-like device. Both are equally effective.

2. How Does a Thin Client Work?

Organizations use thin clients as a cost-effective way to give employees flexibility to work at the office or remotely. With a thin client, employees can log in at the office or remotely through any compatible device (e.g., Windows laptop, iPad, etc.) and an internet connection.

A thin client is less costly than a traditional computer and data theft risk is minimal since no data is processed or stored on a thin client.

3. What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is the most highly recommended Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) platform on the market.

Instead of having a physical server on site, AVD runs in a cloud infrastructure. Therefore users log into a pool of resources within Microsoft’s cloud and the organization pays monthly for the amount of computing power it uses.

Being a Microsoft product, AVD natively integrates with other Microsoft Office 365 solutions (e.g., Teams, Outlook, Sharepoint, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and provides a seamless user experience. AVD allows the employee to use a variety of devices to log into the same remote interface. Therefore, AVD provides device and location flexibility by accessing the same remote interface and central point of server computing power.

RELATED: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Cost Factors and Considerations

With a thin client environment , organizations can easily deploy security tools and provide easy and efficient workspace set-up for your IT team when a new employee is on-boarded.

If there are software applications that all of your employees use (e.g., Outlook, Sharepoint, a CRM, etc.), a thin client will have access to them automatically. Just connect your new employee’s thin client to the server and you’re ready to go!

RELATED: Top 10 Remote Work Tools to Improve Employee Productivity

4. What Organizations Can Benefit From This Technology?

Thin clients in concert with AVD, are often used by organizations that are heavily invested in technology and view an operating expense model (paying a monthly subscription for computing access) as more beneficial than a capital investment in a large sum of equipment. As an operating expense, computing access becomes part of the monthly budget.

An ideal organization for thin client/AVD use may also have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Employees who sometimes work remotely, whether that is working from home or traveling for business
  • The same software applications are used by most of the employees
  • A workplace culture with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy
  • A desire to reduce the risk of data theft and virus infection


5. What are the Benefits of Thin Clients and AVD?

Organizations of all sizes are increasingly turning to the use of AVD as it offers a variety of highly desirable benefits. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Less risk, more security: In addition to data processing being done offsite and not within the thin client itself, an Azure Virtual Desktop can be securely accessed through most computing devices (desktop, laptop or tablet with Window or iOS) and an internet connection. This allows an employee to work remotely through a work-assigned or personal device, without accessing software applications through the device’s hard drive.

Therefore, even if the employee’s device is infected by a computer virus, it will be contained within the device with almost no risk of being transferred into the organization’s network. Rules can be set up to prevent data from moving back and forth as only screen images actually move across the wire .

Security policies are also more easily enforced with a AVD system as organization-wide changes and updates can be quickly implemented.

Same user experience: A thin client/AVD deployment gives employees the same user experience and access to the same environment whether they are at the office or working remotely – no disjointed user experience. Everything looks and works the same, no matter where the user is located. That’s why AVD is perfect for organizations with hybrid work environments.

Cost-effectiveness: Thin clients are less expensive than traditional computers and they allow computing infrastructure costs to become predictable, monthly costs by outsourcing an organization’s data cloud infrastructure to a third party as a subscription model.

Less hassle for your IT team: A thin client is easier to set-up, maintain and reboot (if needed) than traditional desktop computers. That’s why they could save time for your IT team to focus on the critical aspects of your business.

6. Which Thin Client Should I Buy?

There are several thin client manufacturers, but it’s always a bright idea to look for equipment from a major OEM that includes a good warranty and service protection.

The type of thin client will depend on the nature of your workforce and also your organization’s culture.

An office worker might occasionally access their workspace remotely via a personal desktop or laptop when they work from home. A thin client attached to their workspace in the office, would work well.

On the other hand, many sales professionals or other employees who travel frequently are more accustomed to logging in to a corporate thin client via a lightweight and handy device such as an iPad Pro or a Microsoft Surface Go laptop.

7. What is a Technology Needs Assessment?

The best way to learn if your organization is a good fit for thin client use is to contact a Technology Management Provider, such as Elevity, to conduct a needs assessment.

A comprehensive, technology needs assessment takes only 30 minutes and will give you a clearer picture of your potential needs, increase understanding of how a managed technology program can help and also aid in deciding whether thin clients are the right fit for your organization.

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