The days when the simple desktop computer met all your company's computing needs are gone. Now a new breed of computers designed to reduce costs and hassles is emerging. One of the new options to consider: the network computer (NC).
NCs are relatively inexpensive computers that connect to and run off your network. Unlike PCs, NCs have no local storage or software; all applications and data are stored on the network server, and are available for users to access when needed. (Don't confuse NCs with NetPCs, which are low-cost, stripped-down PCs with limited storage that companies like Hewlett Packard and Compaq are manufacturing to compete with the NC.
While the merits of the NC have been touted primarily for large corporations--which have much to gain from equipping their masses with low-cost, centrally managed terminals--they're not the only ones benefiting from NC technology. "Small businesses have a lot to gain from NCs," says John MacGilvary, chief analyst with Datapro Information Services Group, an information technology research and analysis firm in Delran, New Jersey. "Basically, the same benefits that apply to large businesses also apply to small ones, but on a smaller scale."