I'm a big fan of the IT@Intel website as it contains tons interesting details on how Intel delivers services for their employees. In a recent whitepaper titled "Maintaining Information Security while Allowing Personal Hand-Held Devices in the Enterprise" they discuss how Intel moved to a model that allows the use of personally owned mobile devices. Many customers are exploring the same optio so it's a timely topic. In the article, there is a section that details Intel's analysis of thin client devices:
"At Intel, we have standardized on mobile business PCs, complemented by hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets - corporate - or employee owned. The solution enhances employee productivity without compromising information security.
We have not found that the thin client computing model, which centrally stores information and allows access to that information only from specific devices, is a foolproof way to protect corporate information.
Although thin clients are appropriate for certain limited applications, in general we feel they limit user mobility, productivity and creativity. Also, many of the perceived security enhancements associated with thin clients need to be viewed with caution. At Intel, we found that many of the information security risks merely moved - they didn't disappear. For example, thin clients usually don't include the same level of information security protection as mobile business PC's yet they can still connect to the Internet and export information, putting that information at risk. Therefore, the loss of productivity that came with using thin clients was for little or no gain."
I have to hand it to Intel for not pulling punches and providing an honest assessment. That said, I remain bullish on virtualization to deliver applications to laptops, smartphones and tablets where native or web access isn't available or where data security is a priority.