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Back to the Glass House

Many IT pros remember when end user desktop support was simply a matter of popping in a new dumb terminal. When the personal computer took off in the early '80s, total cost of ownership (TCO) took on a whole new meaning.

It's no wonder that ever since then, there have been various attempts to wrench control back from the end users and cut TCO costs with various, and disastrous, thin clients. A new company, ClearCube Technologies, is taking a simpler approach. And a similar device from 2C Computing won a Best of Interop Award for Infrastructure and the Best Startup Award at NetWorld+Interop in Atlanta.

These vendors have put the monitor, keyboard and mouse on the user's desk, and the rest on a blade server in the data center. All the computers can be physically serviced from one location, and the redundancy features of blade computers can be used to decrease downtime. Moves are greatly simplified, and all network cabling and upgrade issues are centralized as well.

There are issues. The upfront costs are higher, and you need a data center close enough for the 200-meter copper or 1-km fiber connection. And users will balk at the loss of power and prestige of having their own PC. But users still have all the power of a desktop at their fingertips, with no sacrifice in performance.