At Sloan School, The PC May Be A Vanishing Breed

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You wouldn’t expect anybody at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to go looking for a less powerful computer. But there is an effort afoot at the university’s Sloan School of Management to move faculty and staff away from full-fledged desktop computers and onto dumber, network-based devices known as thin clients.

It’s part of a larger movement toward “cloud computing’’ - processing files and other software on large, shared server computers, reducing the need to pack a lot of processing horsepower into each user’s machine. Reminiscent of the “dumb terminals’’ used in early generations of computers, simple thin clients will connect keyboards and screens used by MIT scholars to Sloan’s online resources on all kinds of devices, even their personal smartphones and tablets.

Sloan’s computer labs have been testing thin clients for about two years. Now the school plans to begin issuing thin clients to faculty and staff members, “slowly moving into replacing physical PCs where it makes sense,’’ said Wesley Esser, Sloan’s director of information technology consulting and support.

Esser said thin clients will help cut down the expenses associated with maintaining personal computers - a never-ending challenge. “People futz with them and steal them,’’ he said. “They break at inopportune moments.’’

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