Slashdot I learned of this ZDNet article on ClearCube. This company sells "blade desktops." Users see have a device ClearCube calls a "user port" on their desk. Remotely connected to the user port by Cat 5, fiber, or IP is a "PC blade" mounted in a "cage" sitting in a server room or data center. Smart management software allows administrators to switch user ports from blade desktop to blade desktop if one fails.
The following diagram explains the same concepts in a single figure.
Regular blog readers may remember my enthusiasm for thin clients like the Sun Ray and wonder how I view these blade desktops. For casual users who surf the Web, read email, and use office software, blade desktops are overkill. I think the Sun Ray is a better solution. For those who need Microsoft products, I imagine a solution incorporating VMWare would be appropriate.
I see blade desktops as a possible way to provide dedicated hardware to power users. For example, in my last job our engineers did not think a thin client would work for them. Each software engineer needed a dedicated PC with tons of RAM, a fast CPU, and big hard drives to run their own instances of VMWare and other software. A few of them using thin clients connected to a single server would quickly consume too many resources. Instead, they could each get a blade desktop.
Removing the actual PC from the work space eliminates physical security threats and makes it more difficult to steal data, assuming the "user port" USB ports could be disabled.