13-08-2018 | | By Christian Cawley
Corporations facing questions about IT budgets, or simply looking to make efficiencies on hardware, might consider cutting back on licenses once the hardware is pared back.
But are office based colleagues really using the cheapest equipment? And does cutting back on cost and specification really mean a cut in productivity? Since its launch in 2015, the Intel Compute Stick has been proving a key solution to IT budget issues. But it offers more than just a way to balance the books.
Small Enough to Secure
Hardware going walkabout is a problem for businesses of all sizes. It might be servers; perhaps it's components in storage. Or it might be a printer, or a PC, or more likely, an easily smuggled laptop. Often, it's tiny items that can easily be pocketed.
So, why use a compact (113 mm × 38 mm × 12 mm) Intel Compute Stick?
Figure illustrates the mechanical form factor for the Intel Compute Stick. Dimensions are given in millimeters.
Capable of being powered from a USB power supply (such as one found on a typical desktop display) and plugging directly into the HDMI socket, at first glance this little HDMI stick PC seems easy pickings for the light-fingered. However, with the right security solution, the Intel Compute Stick need not be straight out of the door at 5pm.
Restrictive measures to prevent removal include installing the stick PC in a box out of sight, connecting to the display via a HDMI extension cable. Or you might employ a system to restrict access to the back of the workstation display.
Low Power, USB Power Supply
As noted, HDMI sticks typically run from the USB power supply provided by a modern display. Requiring just (5V DC), these are low power devices compared to the usual desktop. A HDMI stick PC is closer in energy footprint to an ARM-powered thin client.
As such, replacing workstations with a stick PC is a great option if there is a need to cut power bills.
Portable Option for Traveling Light
Typically shipping with Windows 10 (Linux versions are available), Intel Compute Sticks and their rivals are surprisingly lightweight. In an age where many hotel rooms feature a desktop display (often, they can be added on request), the need to travel with a laptop is reduced.
With smartphones and tablets capable of providing instant productivity, a stick PC (complete with foldable keyboard and touchpad) can deliver that desktop computer experience at short notice, as-and-when.
Running a mature operating system means that access to corporate networks (typically via in-house VPN) is simple, as is logging into any cloud storage. Just as long as there is adequate wireless network access!
Cut the IT Budget, Retain Productivity
Office computing is almost always limited to word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email. Perhaps a bit of internet access, social networking, and network resources.
With the exception of in-house IT departments, and any specialist teams (design, multimedia, etc.), there isn't any need for bulky computers. A stick PC such as the Intel Compute Stick can perform the majority of office based tasks.
Furthermore, these computers are suitable for multimedia playback, making them the ideal low-cost hardware for kiosk applications.
A typical office desktop from Dell or HP will cost around $700 per person. That doesn't include the corporate Windows licenses, or those for Microsoft Office.
By contrast, the hardware price for a current Intel Compute Stick is just $150.
Not only are these HDMI PCs easy to carry, and capable of running office applications, they're also affordable to replace. Furthermore, with the right after sales contracts in place, Intel stick PCs can help to cut back on IT support resources. A lack of replaceable parts will necessitate a supply of replacement devices is kept on site, but the days of retaining technicians dedicated to swapping out defective disk drives and PSUs can be consigned to history. Built-in Wi-Fi, meanwhile, means desktop support via remote desktop can take place anywhere in the world.
The stick PC isn't likely to go away; the technology exists to provide compact computing. Those forthcoming IT budget cuts might just be possible with a company-wide switch to the Intel Compute Stick.
Watch our product overview video on YouTube: Electropages Tech News - Intel Compute Stick Overview