NComputing: The end of single user office PCs?

By in cloud, general, management, products, strategy on Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Look around the average office. You’ll see lots of desks, some with people sitting on them. More importantly, you’ll see one PC per desk, if there’s anyone sitting there or not.

Think about all that cost. Every PC has a tinware cost, an operating system like Windows® and a licence for every piece of software. Each plugs into a socket and consumes energy. Remember, all that heat and power uses more expensive carbon, too.

The really stupid part is the PC arms race has left us with PC’s too powerful for our needs. We use 5% of their capabilities. They’re 64-bit but we use 32. Each one with a huge disk. What if we could all share one PC and still work as well as before?

Seems one company may have the answer. And it could start an office revolution…

The NComputing® X-Series Platform

Imagine adding a bit of hardware to one workstation for up to 11 monitors, keyboards and mice and let the users work just like before, running just the same applications as they did with no drop of performance. That’s what NComputing‘s X-Series promises.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it. Let’s take a look at a video to see this in action…

Time to get off the ride Microsoft and Intel have been taking you on

I’ve just come back from a client’s office. I’ve talked about these guys before, a company I helped start up and who’ve grown quite big.

They need to change their old PC’s because the software’s too old and things are looking a bit tired. So, do they buy a whole load of PC’s, Windows, office applications – remember they can’t re-use them if they came with the PC – or do they think about X-Platform?

Well, from what I’ve seen this could be the answer for them. Most office kit gets a battering and just wears out. Individual replacement cost is very high and the upheaval enormous. Support charges added to each upgrade makes it a hugely expensive exercise.

With this, only one new workstation and the associated hardware is needed. Simply plug keyboards, monitors and mice in and away they go. One support visit to install one set of applications – or even move to the Cloud for even more savings – and that’s it.

What about bigger offices?

The cool thing here is the more you have, the more you save. Traditionally, large offices and enterprises will still stick their staff in an office. These guys often turn to Citrix®. This actually saves nothing as the costs of extra server hardware and installation is so great. Citrix may reduce end-user support time, but actually increases server support costs.

Solutions like NComputing reduce real costs – hardware software and power – not just the intangible software distribution task and unlike Citrix, licence costs fall radically with the number of multiple users served.

…and the downside?

Microsoft is not likely to take any threat to its vast software licence revenues lying down. You can bet they’ll try to come up with a way of extracting a fee for this type of use.

Remember Citrix promised such savings and Microsoft quickly responded to that threat. The climate where Microsoft was able to do that though has changed and Open Source offers an alternative now.

Eggs and baskets?

The only other caveat that I can see is a hardware one. The new master workstation will be running a lot of users. If that fails, they all stop working. I’d adopt the old network trick for this by leaving capacity spare and use two smaller workstations, not one big one.

So, will this start the revolution it promises to?

You know what, it just could. It ticks all the boxes any good technology strategist has got open in terms of system costs. But the devil as always is in the detail.

Lets’ give it a chance and see just how well it works!