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January 11, 2011

Cloud to Drive a Resurgence of…Workstations?

Nicole Hemsoth

Given the increasing popularity of cloud computing, particularly in the enterprise context, the idea of a resurgence in workstations might seem a bit odd. After all, isn’t the cloud supposed to magically deliver the applications without need for hefty physical infrastructure?

As Brian Proffitt noted today, “the idea, it seems, is to take advantage of cloud technology and economics and use workstations to bring high-performance computing capabilities to the corporate user or any user connected to the Internet with a big enough connection.” 

He argues that there are a number of cloud vendors who are handling applications that function on the workstation but then offload some of the workload to the cloud as resources demand and then back again. This means that users can get “limitless” compute power without a great deal of configuring hardware.

Proffitt claims that “what both workstation in the cloud technologies offer is the capability to increase the number of resource-intensive jobs that can be carried out in parallel. There is still a need to have locally heavy power and graphics, but when it comes to graphics rendering, simulations or biometric processing, the parallel processing of the cloud can be leveraged to minimize job times.”

Some have predicted that as cloud adoption grows, thin client devices will make a major comeback. However, this is not the only way that cloud computing might usher in machines that were thought to have gone out of style.

As Proffitt stated, “the cloud may also be the harbinger of the workstation—high-end personal computers that, when coupled with the cloud, cloud bring more disruption to the supercomputing sector.”

He admits that the concept might seem a bit counterintuive since the whole idea of the cloud lies in accessing applications via the web versus the in-house server but argues that an increasing number of IT managers are seeing that there is a trend toward this workstation in the cloud phenomenon.

Full story at Enterprise Networking Planet