Q&A: Dumping the PC For a Slimmer Cousin

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-08-24 Print this article Print

Mutual insurance firm Amerisure spent $750,000 on a project to replace 800 desktop PCs with "thin client" terminals. One key result: A 20% drop in help-desk calls.

Jack Wilson is enterprise information-technology architect at Amerisure, a mutual insurance firm in Farmington Hills, Mich.

Between January and May this year, the 800-employee company replaced its desktop PCs with "thin client" terminals from Wyse Technology that run applications hosted on nine servers running Citrix Systems' remote-access software. He spoke recently with news editor Todd Spangler.

Q: Why scrap your PCs?

A: For any hardware problems we experienced, we'd have to call in a third-party company to fix them. It could take six hours to two days to get a file server back. If a workstation hard drive failed, it could take up to three days to get a replacement out to a branch office. My goal was to streamline and rearchitect that infrastructure.

Q: Any other reasons?

A: Well, our PCs were due for a refresh. When we started the project, they were already three years old and we let them roll off lease.

Q: How much did it cost?

A: About $750,000. A PC refresh alone would have run up to $900,000.

Q: What have been your results so far?

A: Help-desk calls have gone down dramatically because we've standardized software and platforms in each location. With the thin clients, there's nothing out in the field to maintain. There's almost nothing to break. We've reduced calls by 200 per month; that's down by 20%.

Q: What's the downside?

A: There was a potential downside if our applications wouldn't run on Citrix. But we showed they did. What we were really concerned about was resistance from end users. They went from having a truly personal computer, where they could put their own wallpaper on the desktop and listen to CDs, to a business machine. It has no personal use.

Q: Any pushback?

A: Not a peep. As part of the project, we standardized on Dell 19-inch flat-screen monitors. We thought the resistance would be lessened if we gave everybody nice, new monitors.


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