As you described, we have essentially come full circle in the world of computing. From dumb terminal green screens connected, to mainframes, to stand-alone PCs, to networked PCs, to server-based networks and now back to terminals connected to thin client or cloud computing environments.
I've been installing thin client computing environments based on Citrix and Terminal Services for over 10 years. It has been fun when my clients have come to me in the past few years and said, 'I read about this could thing in the paper and I think we really need to get one.' I then say, 'but you've been running your own private cloud for six years -- we just didn't call it that then.' Thin client computing has served my clients well in terms of support and maintenance costs, and has served my business well in terms of being able to focus our resources on the management of servers and infrastructure rather than workstation support and management.
Up until very recently we've deployed HP thin client terminals based on Windows CE. While they were functional and efficient, there were several drawbacks that made them less than ideal. Over the past few months we've moved to WYSE Thin Client terminals, specifically the R10L, which has allowed us to provide a more robust computing environment to the end user and to centrally manage the configuration of the terminals without the need to make any configuration changes locally. This literally allows us to send brand-new WYSE terminals directly to a client location from the distributor and have an end user plug it into power and a network cable. As the unit powers up for the first time it downloads its configuration file and fully configures itself for the environment.
The support we've gotten from WYSE has been extremely good and I'm hopeful that Dell will leave well enough alone rather than trying to integrate the WYSE organization too tightly into Dell's organization. Being a Dell reseller as well, and using its server hardware for the heart of many of these thin client environments, I have respect for what it has done, but I do have my concerns that its recent acquisitions (Sonicwall, WYSE, etc.) will cause Dell to try to spread itself too thin. It seems to me that it's bringing together high-quality companies with well-respected products. I'm hopeful that Dell will allow the management of these organizations to continue to do what they have done well enough to make them an attractive takeover target to begin with.