Thin Is In At Investment Firm - InformationWeek

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Thin Is In At Investment Firm

Frank Russell migrates many of its employees to thin clients

The thin client lives at investment firm Frank Russell Co. A companywide effort to migrate as many of its 1,000 employees as possible off expensive–to–manage and aging desktops and laptops has already helped the Northwestern Mutual subsidiary shave $9 million off its IT costs since the first round of deployments was completed in October.

Citrix MetaFrame XP Presentation Server software played a central role in Clean Slate, Frank Russell's code name for this project. Frank Russell also is outsourcing the management of the desktops, servers, and Citrix software to keep costs down.

Annually, it costs $4,500 to $8,000 per user to buy, implement, and manage a fleet of full–fledged PCs, says Mark Margevicius, Gartner's research director for end–user computing. Management is the most expensive part of the equation, accounting for 40% of the cost. "As IT budgets get cut, or at best stay flat, companies find that PC architectures are expensive to implement and support."

Frank Russell has so far moved more than 600 users from older desktops and laptops to new Hewlett–Packard Evo 500 thin–client desktops, all connected to servers through Citrix MetaFrame XP. The company got buy–in for the deployment by telling departments that they would pay for only the desktop resources they use with the Citrix technology, says John Stingl, chief technology officer. They had the option to continue using full–fledged PCs if they wanted to, but budget–conscious managers were more than happy to try the shared–cost server–centric model.

Frank Russell had to buy 73 Intel–based HP servers to support the deployment as well as spend about $2,500 for a Citrix license. The thin–client deployment runs counter to the growing trend toward server consolidation, Margevicius says. But given the choice of managing people or servers, he says, "IT will tell you it's easier to manage servers."

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