Australia and New Zealand Bank will decide whether to keep its branches running on conventional desktop PCs or switch to power-thrifty thin clients in the next few months. "We are continuing to evaluate and pilot thin client and virtual desktop technology in a number of areas of the bank," a spokeswoman said.
ANZ has had a trial of the technologies running since last year.
Thin client terminals are designed to take the place of a conventional PC, running a "virtualised" software environment served up over the network, rather than from a hard disk, which thin clients lack.
Usually much smaller than a PC, thin clients also use a lot less power, consuming around 5 watts, compared with at least 150 watts for a conventional desktop computer. However, they normally require network connections and back-end servers with plenty of capacity.
"We will be in a position within a few months to decide if we will invest in this technology as a replacement to the existing branch desktop fleet," the spokeswoman said.
But the bank declined to name the suppliers whose products were under trial and would not discuss the size of the trial, saying it was still being evaluated.
ANZ operates about 29,000 desktop PCs across its Australian operation.
One supplier pushing thin client devices, Sun Microsystems, says it is seeing growth in thin client sales running at close to 30 per cent. But sales were "lumpy", punctuated by irregular large orders, Sun business manager for software products Lawrie Wong said.
The increasing availability of desktop virtualisation tools would bring about a "revolution" in desktop systems that would mirror the tidal shift toward virtualisation that was taking place in server environments, he said.
Large enterprises, government and education were the main adopters of thin client at present, he said.
"We find that enterprises usually deploy thin clients on a project by project basis," Mr Wong said. "I think that people have figured out that 'big-bang' is pretty risky. It's more advisable to take a chunk of the organisation off on to thin client, prove that, and then move on."
Fairfax Business Media
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