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12/2/2009
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HP Upgrades Thin Clients In Wake Of Windows 7

HP is consolidating VMware and Citrix Systems desktop virtualization approaches with its own management software, and offering refreshed thin client devices.

HP is upgrading its thin client devices and offering an integrated approach to virtualized desktops as its customers consider upgrading to Windows 7. The decision to upgrade will prompt fresh thinking on virtualized desktops, predicted HP officials.

As companies consider upgrading employees to Windows 7, they are forced to consider an upgrade in aging PC desktops and laptops as well. A new Windows operating system often requires more hardware resources.

Even if it didn't, it would take the strain off replacing desktop hardware for the long run if virtualized desktops were implemented running in the data center, says HP's Jeff Groudan, VP for thin client solutions. With central servers doing the heavy lifting, the end user desktop can be lightened up, he said.

IDC analysts in a November white paper, "Understanding the Business Value of Centralized, Virtualized Desktops," agree. "Because little execution occurs at the edge in a centralized virtualized desktop environment, the computing architecture becomes less reliant on the horsepower in the endpoint devices," wrote analysts Michael Rose, Randy Perry and Bob O'Donnell.

In the past, when IT staffs looked at virtualized desktops as an alternative, they found a great deal of added complexity at a cost that was higher than simply equipping employees with PCs. "And the desktop service -- the quality of the display to the end user -- was not what people wanted," said Groudan in an interview.

All of that may change in 2010, as a recovery starts enterprises thinking about their aging end user machines. "There's a pent up demand to refresh PCs and desktops. The upgrade to Windows 7 will accelerate the hardware/software refresh rate," predicted Groudan.

HP is offering an upgraded high end thin client, the HP Flexible Series t5740 at $429 and t5745 at $399 are designed to cut typical end user device electricity consumption by as much as 80% while delivering a quality end user computing experience, said Groudan.

They run on the power conserving Intel Atom N280 and Intel GL40 chips. The thin clients support rich multimedia in both bright and dim lighting. They also provide eight USB ports and an optional PCI expansion module.

A low end thin client has been upgraded as well. The HP Essential Series t5325 is a power conserving device that starts at $199 and supports basic multimedia content.

Both types of thin clients come with ThinPro Setup Wizard for Linux and Easy Config for Windows, HP's set up tools to ease installation of thin clients.

HP will support both VMware View client virtualization and Citrix Systems XenDesktop 4 and XenApp virtualization in its Converged Infrastructure approach to virtual desktops running on HP ProLiant servers, storage and thin clients. HP expects customers to have many different types of end users and supports the multiple forms of desktop virtualization supplied by VMware and Citrix. It supplies a single management console for both brands, and allows implementing a set of centralized, virtualized applications for one group in the company, and individualized virtual desktops with varying applications for other groups.

"We expect you will have mixed environments across the organization," said Jeff Carlat, HP director of marketing for infrastructure software and blades.

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