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BSF Thread, Durham School rolls back ICT in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Originally Posted by mounters The very sketchy details I have learnt so far are that the problems have arisen from ...
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    AngryITGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mounters View Post
    The very sketchy details I have learnt so far are that the problems have arisen from the fact that they are using the IT kit from pre bsf due to there not being funding available/left for new IT kit. This equipment apparently couldn't cope and there had been unoffical word that the system was close to collapse for a while (I believe that they have had the legacy and bsf solution runnng in parallel since Jan).
    I thought the school pre BSF was running a Cisco and Citrix based thin client infrastructure. A similar solution to what BSF are offering you'd think that if it works over a LAN it should work over the WAN asumming the infrastructe is in place to do so.

    I'm sure my line manager mentioned the information about the schools pre BSF kit as he was impressed by the revelation at a BSF Meeting he attended a couple of years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    28.9Megabytes, or 28.9Megabits? (Just to check).

    Also, if the VDI solution is one which does network booting in the first place, the machine may well have had its mini-os transferred to it when you turned it on also.
    28.9Mega Bytes, if it was a solution that does network booting wouldn't the data transfer occur at the beginning of the sessions?

    Looking back through the NTOP stats for the device during connectivity it kept getting a stream of data sent to it.

    Going back to the LA solution for BSF as mentioned on here by many folk it is a good solution in theory I don't actually think the solution it self is flawed at all atleast not the Citrix part.

    Where the proposed solution fails is with the infrastructure of the WAN, I personally think that this is the weak link in the equation and has been for quite sometime.

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    Trust-No-One's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    I think many of us have seen this before where a project has been forced through without much actual consultation with schools or an appreciation of the task in hand and bad decision follows bad decision because the few people who say 'hang on, this isn't going to work unless.....' get ignored and treated as idiots.
    I think this is exactly what is happening here. If it wasn't for networking amongst ourselves, us IT folk in Durham would be completely in the dark about BSF - communication from above about it is VERY lacking.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    Following a phone call I had yesterday from a 'concerned' source in County Durham the roll back is due to the VDI slution simply not working as it should for a number of reasons:

    a. Lack of planning and forethought
    b. Network capability
    c. A lack of appreciation about getting it to actually work before rolling it out

    In short, it is not down to any overriding single issue apart from 'It's not working like we thought it would' due to point 'a'. I think many of us have seen this before where a project has been forced through without much actual consultation with schools or an appreciation of the task in hand and bad decision follows bad decision because the few people who say 'hang on, this isn't going to work unless.....' get ignored and treated as idiots.
    the thing about VDI is even if with the right type of planning, it just isn't a magic bullet. Even with a serious upfront investment.

    Especially as it's arguably still a version 1.1 technology, with vendors products improving and having features added at a rapid pace.

    I've been in meetings to discuss VDI and came out with a sense that those who sell the solution want to convince they can overcome obstacles, but how many workarounds do you deploy before it starts to look suspiciously like a FAT-thin hybrid. With an expensive backend infrastructure [storage, virtualization nodes] and when your promising the full desktop experience how many weak links can you tolerate between that virtualized desktop on SAN storage and the user accessing their desktop ?

    IT's really about being realistic, and weighing up the value of the additional hardware and licensing costs.

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    AngryITGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust-No-One View Post
    I think this is exactly what is happening here. If it wasn't for networking amongst ourselves, us IT folk in Durham would be completely in the dark about BSF - communication from above about it is VERY lacking.
    Couldn't agree with you more about that, I will even stick my neck out and say that I think alot of bad decisions have been made by the LA regarding the proposal of the BSF Solution.

    Correct me if I am wrong but I don't think any schools or school IT staff were consulted when it was decided to go for a VDI solution and I don't think an alternative has ever been put on the table.

    Testing of the solution was all done behind closed doors with a select few schools invited to see it working, from what I have been told the Proof of Concept was only ever tested on a LAN! My school was actually asked to take part in the testing of the proposed VDI solution to see how it would work over the WAN but that never happened even though I setup half an ICT Suite ready for use.

    What's even more crazy is that the LA is still signing up schools to the Managed Service even though it hasn't managed to get it working!

    My meeting with the BSF team is still going ahead today, if anyone in Durham wants to get me to ask some questions on their behalf just PM me and I will do my best to get them answered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by torledo View Post
    ... but how many workarounds do you deploy before it starts to look suspiciously like a FAT-thin hybrid. With an expensive backend infrastructure [storage, virtualization nodes] and when your promising the full desktop experience how many weak links can you tolerate between that virtualized desktop on SAN storage and the user accessing their desktop ?
    You haven't seen the Durham solution spec by any chance have you?

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    Exactly.

    Consider this analogy. Let's presume you are forced to buy a new car to replace your current ageing, but fully-functioning car. You are told that your new car is shiny, all-singing, all-dancing and will cost a lot of money. But the crucial part is, you don't get to see the car, and you don't get to test drive the car, and you know very little about it. Yet you must buy it otherwise X, Y and Z happens. Except the new car hasn't passed its MOT yet

    Reminds me of the old Ford Model T thing - you can have it in any colour as long as it's black.
    Last edited by Trust-No-One; 21st April 2010 at 12:06 PM.

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    Local paper The Northern Echo published a snippet about this in the readers' letters column on Saturday.

    Flagship foul-up? (From The Northern Echo)

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    Post edited due to unauthorised advertising. If you wish to use the forums for commercial purposes please contact us.

    Dos_Box
    Last edited by Dos_Box; 26th November 2010 at 10:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dataspire View Post
    I work for an IT Company specialising in Citrix and have been aware of this project for a while, I think its worth pointing out that the plan itself is not a flawed one, in fact its very similar to a sucessful project we installed for all the schools on the isle of Guernsey last summer. Using a data centre, Citrix and running accross a WAN. The difference was pointed out by angryITguy, its all about the infrastructure and also possibly the method of desktop delivery (i.e. XenApp vs XenDesktop)

    One comment on here stated that Thin Client was only suitable for single application use in businesses, just to clarify this, we have lots of schools running hundreds of applications with excellent performance on Thin Client and that includes flash, adobe, solidworks etc etc. If anybody wants to know more let me know.

    Apologies for this sales insert but I fely compelled to comment on this thread.
    Infrastructure is key to the success of this project; Guernsey has a population of 60,000, with around 7000 or so of secondary age and occupies 78sq km. Durham has around 45,000 secondary students and occupies 2400sq km with probably as many students as the whole of Guernsey in the first wave of schools.... the solution must scale and have the infrastructure in place to allow it to happen.
    Last edited by broc; 27th April 2010 at 04:14 PM.

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    @Dataspire:

    How have you as a company enabled multi-media solutions as in the scenario, a student brings a camera with 450Mb of file he wants to upload to his/her work area for editing using thin client architecture?

    Have you put in fat clients as part of the overall hybrid system or what?

    I would really be interested in any details and designs you could offer and any documentary evidence to back up e.g. Documentation would be good to see the way your company has implemented the design (if possible) :-)

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    Post edited due to unauthorised advertising. If you wish to use the forums for commercial purposes please contact us.

    Dos_Box
    Last edited by Dos_Box; 26th November 2010 at 10:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dataspire View Post
    In every single whole school solution that we have installed we have always included some element of fat clients even if it is just in the admin/library/LRC rooms etc. The solution we use to solve the problem of highly graphical apps such as movie maker or music apps is to use what we call a hybrid device. This device will run the majority of applications from the citrix server but a small number of apps such as cubase would run locally on that device (the user is unaware of where the app is launching from). The benefits of this are that you can still manage the majority of the apps on the device from the server farm as with traditional thin client but the processing power that is local to that device can be dedicated to run cubase therefore better performance and the device will have a longer life. I would also point out that there is only a very short list of applications that we cannot run completely over thin client.
    The apps I understand, and also where this "hybrid" model comes in to run these apps locally.

    But where does this user's data get stored, typically? Does Johnny's 400MB video stay local to that computer? Sent to the cloud? Does it get backed up? How will this affect other users?

    I'm not trying to discredit your reasoning, just trying to understand the logistics from a practical point of view for real-world scenarios.

    I thought the whole idea of a thin client system was that access terminals were low-cost, low-power devices to run anything from anywhere - everything was on the server. But with the introduction of the hybrid model, this obviously mandates that thin clients aren't as thin any more, which likely impacts power usage and also cost. In which case, why not just use traditional fat clients for what the difference is worth? The costings I've seen for hybrid TS devices are twice as much as our fat clients.

    On a slightly related note, how well do your thin client/hybrid systems run over a wireless connection?

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    The hybrid model also has cost implications about support and deployment. If an app is hosted on the server then there is minimal support to manage this at the client end, helping to keep the costs down, so that only essential apps are deployed on the fat client. Ok ... this is presuming that it works all the time but there are some good examples of this (one of which is near me and supported by dataspire) ... but I do worry about the lack of in-house expertise reduces some of the chances for innovation and trying different things out.

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    Last edited by Dos_Box; 26th November 2010 at 10:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust-No-One View Post
    The apps I understand, and also where this "hybrid" model comes in to run these apps locally.

    But where does this user's data get stored, typically? Does Johnny's 400MB video stay local to that computer? Sent to the cloud? Does it get backed up? How will this affect other users?

    I'm not trying to discredit your reasoning, just trying to understand the logistics from a practical point of view for real-world scenarios.

    I thought the whole idea of a thin client system was that access terminals were low-cost, low-power devices to run anything from anywhere - everything was on the server. But with the introduction of the hybrid model, this obviously mandates that thin clients aren't as thin any more, which likely impacts power usage and also cost. In which case, why not just use traditional fat clients for what the difference is worth? The costings I've seen for hybrid TS devices are twice as much as our fat clients.

    On a slightly related note, how well do your thin client/hybrid systems run over a wireless connection?
    i think your asking the right questions, and absolutely the questions that anyone looking at deploying such a system needs to ask.

    This is my point about VDI not being the magic bullet.....well, atleast not when you look at some of the marketing and you think about cost-benefit analysis based on individual environments.

    it seems to me that if the justification that only a fraction of the estate requires the local processing power and storage of fat clients, then your restricting what the majority of the estate can run if they are to be thin clients. Now that might not be a problem if the majority of the estate will never run powerful audio or video editing apps. But why restrict what you can/want to run in the future based on limitations that don't pose a problem today. That's not to say a VDI/hybrid model can't or shouldn't be deployed, there are clearly some big projects where such solutions have been deployed...and if more and more work is done using web apps then a thin/VDI solution seems well positioned to benefit from this trend...

    but plenty of work has been done over the years to reduce the administrative burden when managing fat clients....and deploying thin software clients on fat machines is just one option of many.

    the issue with having local execution of some apps or files with thin clients is that this can also be an additional licensing cost if software products are required to make it look 'seamless' to the user. This is where VDI products and thin client devices continue to evolve and require more features [and preferably at the same price] if they want to be able to cover more bases.



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