Law firm branches out on thin clients

Mergers and acquisitions have transformed the IT landscape of law firm Middletons where users are making the transition from PCs to thin clients. The firm has moved to a 60/40 split from PCs to thin clients in the space of one year.

Middletons' technology services manager Terry Bohan said with a strong Melbourne presence of 200 staff and a 15-staff branch office in Sydney, the firm set out to expand the business by acquiring KPMG's legal practice, "klegal". This increased the size of the Sydney office to 65 people and justified another Citrix environment in Sydney.

But instead of deploying PCs, Bohan deployed Wyse Winterm thin client devices with the anticipation of reducing infrastructure and support requirements.

"Melbourne is still all PCs but because we couldn't store all the paperwork in the Sydney office we experimented with thin clients," Bohan said.

Middletons first deployed Citrix in 2000 but it wasn't 'serious' about Citrix because Sydney's IT support was run out of Melbourne but when klegal came on board, Bohan said the company had to "get serious about thin client computing."

"The Wyse Winterms have a 15in terminal and CDs with speakers so staff could listen to data CDs without having to rely on support," he said. "The staff could also put another workstation on a desk without IT support flying to Sydney."

Then in March last year, Middletons merged with another legal firm Acuiti which brought in 80 more people.

"We cut over the [thin clients] in one weekend," Bohan said, adding that most sites he has previously worked at just used Citrix for remote access and to use it for thin clients is "refreshing".

Middletons now has a mixed client environment with at total of 250 PCs and about 160 thin clients which came about in less than one year. Bohan now has two support staff in Sydney.

"The thin clients provide a full desktop to the user and is more reliable, secure and is backed up every night," Bohan said. "The shift wasn't difficult culturally because lawyers just want a computer that works."

On the TCO, Bohan said there is no real price difference in the first three years between PCs and TCs.

"Down the track we will only get three years out of PCs and five or six years out of thin clients," he said.

Bohan said Middletons would need an additional one or two support staff if it used PCs.

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