PDL Abstract

The Seductive Appeal of Thin Clients

Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science Technical Report CMU-CS-05-151, February, 2005.

Niraj Tolia, David G. Andersen, M. Satyanarayanan

School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Interest in thin clients is very high today because of frustration with the growing total cost of ownership of personal computers. Unfortunately, thin clients may not meet the usability goal of crisp interactive response. This paper shows that the adequacy of thin-client computing is highly variable, and depends on both the application and the available network quality. For intensely interactive applications, the tight control of end-to-end network latency required by thin clients may be hard to guarantee at large scale. The paper advocates the concept of stateless thick clients, and describes how they may reduce total cost of ownership while preserving good interactive performance.

KEYWORDS: Interactive response, network latency, network delay, virtual machines, thin client computing, total cost of ownership, TCO

FULL PAPER: pdf / postscript