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Dell Gets Wyse to Thin Clients

Wyse Technology started as a producer of convection ovens in the 1930s before converting itself into an aircraft manufacturer during World War II. OK, not really, but the provider of thin clients does go back to 1981, when Wang was still a major name in computing and Microsoft wasn't. It has been around a while.

But no more, at least not as an independent entity. Dell announced this week that it is snapping up Wyse but didn't mention a price. What also doesn't get mentioned all that much these days is thin client computing, what with all the hype about Software as a Service and the cloud.

You know thin client computing. The OS for client machines runs on a server rather than on the machine itself. That makes the clients pretty much dumb boxes if they're not hooked up to a network. It's not totally client-server, but it's certainly not the cloud, either. It has been around for a long time.

And it's popular. Wyse itself claims more than 200 million users (individuals, not companies), according to the Wired article linked above. Although it was never a great generator of hype, the thin client model has provided cost-effective computing for companies for years, without the risks of outsourcing that the cloud presents. In fact, it sounds a lot like what folks now call the "private cloud," a phrase that still seems counterintuitive.

It's a bit surprising to us here at RCPU that Wyse sat alone at the acquisition dance for as long as it did. It's been one of the largest providers -- probably the largest -- of thin client computing for years now. The company has experienced some twists and turns in its history, but it settled well into a niche and dominated it.

Dell's acquisition is a pragmatic move, one that should bring in revenue immediately rather than merely offering the potential for a gold mine down the road. It also takes Wyse out of the hands of Dell's competitors, not that any of them seemed eager to grab it. Wyse is a great channel company, which Dell seems to want very much to be now after years of turning its back on the idea of a partner model. It couldn't hurt Dell to have a new set of resellers to cozy up to, and it couldn't hurt Wyse resellers to have the Dell name behind them from now on.

Little buys like this in established categories of the market don't get much hype, but they'll have a greater impact for most partners than yet another acquisition of a cloud startup will. We've waited all the way until the end of the post to say this, and we're regretting it already, but we do find Dell's purchase to be a Wyse move. Sorry. That was a hanging curve ball, and we just had to swing.

What's your take on thin client computing? Are you making money off of it? Sound off in the comments below or at [email protected].

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Posted by Lee Pender on April 02, 2012 at 11:56 AM


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