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Commentary: "P" in PC is for personal

Despite the optimism of companies such as ClearCube Technology, remote PCs will likely not become the mainstream approach to managing enterprise desktops.

    By Bill Gassman and Mark Margevicius, Gartner Analysts

    Despite the optimism of companies such as ClearCube Technology, remote PCs will likely not become the mainstream approach to managing enterprise desktops.

    See news story:
    When worlds collide: PC meets mainframe

    True, there are some advantanges to keeping central control of PCs and building networks to desktops only for video, not for functions such as file transfer. In addition, businesses could see lower requirements for power and space in office cubicles.

    Nevertheless, the technical ability for remotely controlling PCs has been around for a long time and has not taken off. In the Unix world, X Windows has been around for more than 10 years; developers use it, but it does not provide much in the way of desktop services.

    Centralized, mainframe-style management normally evokes visions of slow and unresponsive operations. Indeed, those shortcomings were responsible for driving the PC revolution in the first place. After all, the P in PC stands for "personal."

    To evaluate alternatives to the PC-on-every-desktop approach, enterprises must weigh the efficiency and effectiveness that the PC gives individual workers against the savings that the IS organization will realize by not having to walk over to each PC when it needs repairs and upgrades and by being able to keep things consistent. The more the IS organization can deliver to users by way of a standard set of services, with no need for flexibility, the more attractive becomes the appliance approach taken by companies such as ClearCube.

    This approach makes sense for several situations, such as call centers, where users need the functions of a PC (rather than dumb terminals) but not necessarily the PC itself. In that application, users' jobs have a high degree of consistency and little need for individually configured PCs.

    Again, however, the lack of personal control is a big reason why users have not widely accepted the remote connection to PCs. As IT becomes more of a service than a hardware or technology, customer needs take a higher priority than cost savings. Therefore, although this technique will be useful in kiosk and operational environments, Gartner does not believe it will achieve widespread acceptance on traditional enterprise desktops.

    (For related commentary on small-form-factor, legacy-reduced PCs, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.