Let's examine for a moment the different demands that today's application solutions place on POS system implementations. Traditionally, the POS device served as the execution environment for the IBM POS applications (e.g., SA, GSA, and ACE). However, many of today's POS touch points are either smaller mobile devices or larger devices with less POS processing capacity, such as fuel pumps. And even some legacy IBM equipment lacks sufficient capacity to run the customized POS applications. Application solutions built around these devices require a different approach, commonly referred to as a thin client solution.
Scalable solutions support both traditional (thick client) POS equipment (a) and thin clients (b or c).
Fortunately, open middleware is available to address the needs of both thin clients and the traditional (thick) client. The thin client version of the middleware works in conjunction with a server (Figure 4-b), which provides a remote execution environment for the POS application. The middleware can simultaneously support many clients by running a separate instance of the POS application software for each attached device. Or if preferred, the 4690 controller itself can act as the POS thin client server (Figure 4-c). Thin client solutions are of particular interest to retailers implementing mobile solutions or who simply want to reduce the total cost of ownership by using less expensive POS devices. A number of retailers are actually using this same thin client solution to "upgrade" and prolong the life of old IBM POS devices that don't have the capacity to run newer (bigger) versions of the POS applications.