Distributor targets demand for low-cost thin client conversion

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A new distributor plans to take advantage of an explosion of interest in customisable thin client offerings, signing up to sell New Zealand vendor Asterisk's hybrid thin client Linux workstations and fat-to-thin conversion devices.

Michael Crocombe, managing director at three-month-old VAD Thin Systems, said demand for thin clients and related applications was trembling on the edge of explosion but few IT providers knew how to tailor such products to customer needs.

Thin Systems would specialise in thin client offerings, he said.

“There is a huge market for that type of thing. People want to get away from hard drives and all the complexity of PCs when a simple little box will do the job,” Crocombe said.

An average thin client terminal might cost $600. Meanwhile, IDC figures suggested 45,000 to 55,000 terminals could be sold in Australia each year, he said.

“There's probably another 15,000 to 20,000 terminals that require some form of customisation and that's what Thin Systems is particularly targeting in its business model,” he said.

Crocombe also owned another Australian distributor specialising in thin clients from Indian vendor VXL. “They're the third-largest thin client manufacturer in the world, based out of Bangalore,” he said.

Crocombe had been pushing VXL for three or four years. However, Asterisk – a subsidiary of Telecom New Zealand -- had access to “great” technology, he said.

“They can do remote support by plugging into any box [in some situations]. They have very good development engineers. They come out of a Linux background and they have really cool technology,” Crocombe said.

Thin Systems would be selling Asterisk's PC Reviver device that replaced PC hard drives, converting a PC into a thin client terminal. That thin client could run Citrix, Microsoft Windows Terminal Server, Linux and web-browsing concurrently, he said.

PC Reviver could detect and load drivers for hardware, network cards, VGA controllers and monitors, he said.

“With an RRP of $210, when the PC dies you can plug in the PC Reviver and reuse the PC,” Crocombe said.

He said he expected Asterisk PC Reviver to prove popular with SMBs seeking low-cost IT refreshes.

Thin Systems would also push the Asterisk PCR Terminal, a hybrid thin client/fat client embedded Linux workstation that could run Citrix full desktop or published applications, Linux or Windows remote desktops or Unix, Crocombe said.

Asterisk PCR Terminal was also capable of doing printing, scanning, serial and USB device connection for Windows and Citrix, he said.

The distributor also offered the Itona thin-client hardware and would seek to add vendors as appropriate, Crocombe said.

Thin Systems expected to add considerable value by customising Asterisk and other thin client products for specific needs, he added.

“We have a customer who has a manufacturing plant in China. He needs a thin client running Chinese [language], but all his support infrastructure is in Australia,” Crocombe said.

Thin Systems – which had four staff based in an office in the NSW Central Coast town of Gosford – would develop a package for that customer.

“We used to be based in Sydney for VXL. But we're a distribution business, so we can do it anywhere. Rents are cheap and there are a lot of IT guys who would love to work on the coast and not commute to Sydney,” Crocombe said.

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