Many different companies have attempted to produce a workstation-like unit for lower costs, which unfortunately would come at the expense of performance. One such approach is to remove the local storage capability and thus leave behind a system that has only the keyboard, mouse, processor, and screen. Sometimes these systems can even still run an operating system and perform tasks on the local machine. However, storage would be held on a server attached to their network, or some other remote location. These systems are brilliant in the concept and intended goal, which was to not only reduce the cost of purchasing the initial unit, but the expanse to maintain the system as well. These systems do not require the type of administrative support that standard workstations do, and allow the technician to focus primarily on the server as the main point of recovery concern.
Many workstation manufactures look to push for the replacement of the personal computer in the business environment. The first wave of this was evident with the 3Station by 3Com, and then again later in the 90s with X terminals, or Sun’s “thin clients.” These systems were an attempt to market the workstation as a necessary office standard and a value minded addition to any network. However, as electronics tend to do, the price margins for workstations, as well as personal computers, is plummeting. These systems are becoming easier to acquire and far more comparative (a fact that usually plays to the favor of the consumer). This has sparked a new marketing movement for workstation systems.
More than ever before workstations are actually being branded now, much like the personal computer. This is becoming more evident as people are starting to know more about the workstation than ever before. Marketers will soon find out if the branding process is working when the units start to fly off the shelf. Of course we will be looking for a few more price drops before that happens.
The line between personal computer and workstation computer continues to blur and end users are becoming more and savvier. Marketers are concentrating right now on the business sector, but I am sure that a time will come soon, where standard home users will be browsing the web for advice on their choice to buy a workstation. With all of the graphics and picture editing software out there, not to mention various type of media, it is no wonder that even off the shelf PCs now come with over a terabyte of memory, and a dual quad core processor capable of handling over 8 gigabytes of RAM. The work of branding that the manufacturer’s marketing department has put into their campaign would define their name recognition.
This is unfortunately all that entices a purchase. Many buyers have no idea why they went with a certain product, just like end users will likely not have a clue why they upgraded to a workstation (when the impending trend begins). This is a shame because we cannot ignore the real intrinsic worth of the learning process that we go through as we look into the different brands available today. Many may gravitate toward a workstation because it is the latest “hip” thing to do, just like the blackberry my sister bought and doesn’t know how to use. When looking at worth, the brand may not be the smartest deciding factor. We may find ourselves asking, “Where have all the PCs gone?”