Thin Is In

Thin-Tegration

The Westminster Group, a seven-person executive search firm in Westminster, Colorado, built its thin-client network around seven IBM Network Stations, but it comfortably mixes them with a few high-powered Wintel desktops used for specialized purposes.

The company doesn't maintain its Citrix WinFrame server; it's not even on the company's premises. Instead, it's at the offices of Planet Computer, the system integrator in Denver that sold Westminster the IBMs, installed the server, and maintains it all. Westminster connects with the server over an ISDN phone line that runs about twice as fast as a 56K modem.

The result, note Westminster co-owners Gloria and Tom Kellerhals, is their company reaps big benefits, meeting clients' needs quickly, rounding up and pre-qualifying job candidates, and sending mass e-mailings without the usual computing headaches or early obsolescence.

"I've gotten extremely tired of buying hardware and finding out six weeks later that Computer City has it at half the price," says Gloria, 49. "That drove me to thin clients. I don't want to fool with it; I just want it to do its job, and I'll do mine."

Westminster bought its specialized recruiting software (PC Recruiter) from a company called Main Sequence, and houses it on ASP (application service provider) Planet Computer server along with Windows applications.

"The advantages are centralized offsite management by competent professionals," says Tom, 49, "as well as ease and rapidity of software upgrades, virus protection and firewall security-- and virtually no maintenance."

He figures the $900 they paid for each IBM Network Station would have cost at least a cool $1,600 for comparable name-brand Wintel PCs configured with Ethernet adaptors and 17-inch monitors. The company's PCs are used mostly for processor-intensive Windows applications.

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Thin Is In.

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