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The Current State of Thin-Client Architecture

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The Current State of Thin-Client Architecture

Q: Excluding remote access use, how does your firm PRIMARILY deliver the desktop internally to users?”

This question was recently posed in the member forum of the Information Technology Legal Association (ILTA) Public Open Forum. We’re publishing insights from Kraft Kennedy’s Chief Technology Officer, Chris Owens, on this topic. Connect with our thin-client experts.

A: “From the technology trends and company acquisitions that have come in my purview in recent years, I’m sharing thoughts about the state of the thin-client architecture strategy.

Citrix and VMware
  • Citrix and VMware, the two major historical players in space, have both been purchased, and the changes are certainly visible.
  • As Citrix has pushed its cloud-based offering, its on-premises products have fallen into the model of most on-premises products with a cloud heir apparent. Namely, all security vulnerabilities become zero-day patching exercises as the vendor identifies and resolves the issue on their cloud product, then publishes the vulnerability to customers and to bad actors simultaneously.
  • As a corollary, we have seen a negative cyber security insurance impact by just owning your own NetScalers as the number of published vulnerabilities requiring immediate action has risen.
  • The status of the VMware (Broadcom) Horizon product is unclear and is rarely mentioned in corporate strategy. Not completely ignored, but certainly not mentioned as much as the server and multi-cloud products like Tanzu.
Thin-Client to Thick-Client
  • I do not know of many new implementations of a thin-client strategy at a law firm over the past 5 years. My guess is the people who have responded have utilized a thin-client environment for many years.
  • I do know that we have several customers who are looking to eliminate line-of-business applications that dictate a thin-client strategy due to latency requirements between the client application and the server backend infrastructure.
  • The rise of real-time audio and video with Teams, Zoom, Webex, RingCentral, etc. require more attention in a thin-client environment, and potentially more expensive hardware, yet will still never be “as good” as running those same applications locally on the workstation.
  • It has become harder to utilize Windows Server-based thin-client architecture as the Windows OS and Windows Server OS move further apart from their feature-sets. This leads to more VDI, with session-based thin-client architecture being something reserved for Azure Virtual Desktop and the multiuser Windows OS that it brings to the table.

The thin-client strategy still serves a need and advances in products like Azure Virtual Desktop are expected to continue. My feeling, though, is that we will see the population of law firms utilizing the thin-client strategy as their primary application delivery mechanism continue to wane over the next 5 years.”

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