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Hardware Thread, Softxpand system in Technical; We had a demo of the "Softxpand" system today, for anyone not aware what this is, have a look here. ...
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    Softxpand system

    We had a demo of the "Softxpand" system today, for anyone not aware what this is, have a look here.

    MiniFrame Multi-user PC Software- Thin Client - MultiSeat - Multi-user computing - Green IT

    IT PRO Reviews | Miniframe SoftXpand

    Does anyone here have any of these, what are your views, found anything that you don't like or had any problems?

    Apparently the version that works with RM CC3 will be available very soon.

    I can see advantages of these, for example:

    Using less power
    Less Heat
    Less cables (including networking)
    Less space needed

    But I can also see some disadvantages/some serious question marks over the system, ie:

    Single point of failure (ie, if one 6 user one goes down, you've lost 6) - Sure, this is likely to be rare, but how quickly can you swap them out etc - Also in this aspect, you would need to make sure the machines were bolted down or hidden underneath desks really, because I'm sure you've all had occasions where some little toerag decides to pull out the network cable on a PC, or the power. If this was to happen on the softxpand, then of course all 6 get killed.

    In this aspect of course, you have less to keep check on, ie 5 Softxpand systems, for a computer room of 27.

    For anyone with these in place:
    How much are the USB connector things that these systems use? - any ideas?

    Performance:
    The two guys that gave the demo reckoned that performance of them is great etc and "you don't ever use the full performance of your PC for a lot of apps anyway"

    But, what I can't see is, in what way can a box with 2GB RAM, one dual core processor, etc, running/being split as 4 PC's for example, run as well as individual PC's with 4GB RAM, Dual core processor, 160GB Hard Disk etc

    Also, they reckoned that you only need one Windows License per PC (ie 5 for a room) but surely this isn't true? when it's effectively up to 8 seperate Windows sessions.

    Anyway, enough from me! Hope you haven't died reading all this Look forward to some feedback

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    Quote Originally Posted by andy_d View Post
    The two guys that gave the demo reckoned that performance of them is great etc and "you don't ever use the full performance of your PC for a lot of apps anyway"
    We have a NComputing based system in our staff room, similar kind of idea, and I've seen that running YouTube and BBC iPlayer on four workstations with no apparent effort. I'm not sure it would handle full video editing on every workstation, but otherwise performance seems to be fine.

    Also, they reckoned that you only need one Windows License per PC (ie 5 for a room) but surely this isn't true?
    Listen carefully to what they actually say - bet you is some vague waffle that basically boils down to "it's your problem to sort out licensing". As far as I can make out this means making sure each workstation (i.e. each screen) is licensed for Windows XP (which might be a perfectly reasonable option, depending on what licensing deal you're on) or buy Windows Server and appropriate CALs for Terminal Services.

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    SoftXpand System

    Hi Andy D,

    You must be from Granville, right? The guys from our official Partner CCS spoke very highly of you, thank you for letting them have the opportunity to demo to you. My name is Colin, I am the BDM for MiniFrameUK based in Derbyshire & this is my first day on edugeek.

    You ask some great questions & point out many of the advantages & all of the disadvantages.

    SPOF = This is to us as Bus is to car.... Here are what some customers have done; Reduce the number of users on each MC from 8 down to 4 or 3 or 2, Use onboard RAID which is incredible to have on an end client device, Have redundant PCs in the same manner you would (should) in any environment where PC use is critical, Upgrade the warranty. We've found that the MCs themselves are built to a better quality than the OEMs, which means components are selected for performance and efficiency rather than price. Last year there was 1 call out because of a power supply. In our office, since our MCs are connected to the network, we have redundant units so a swap over would take around 35 minutes of which most is spent plugging cables back in. You're right to bring up the SPOF argument although it's never cost a sale.

    Unplugging cables = There'll always be toerags. Perhaps it should be explained to them that if they unplug the network cable they will never be allowed to use a computer in school again? Worked for me at School I assure you! Aside from that when USB or VGA cables or unplugged, just plug them straight back in. On occasion you may have to reassign the Keyboard & Mouse to the monitor by CTRL ALT Fing.

    USB Hub = You've noticed that there is no proprietory hardware needed so you can specify which ever USB Hubs you want, this also allows you to keep up with the best costerformance. We have a great relationship with Targus & recommend their 4 port USB 2.0 Travel Hub of which we're the biggest buyer in the country. These are shipped with our MCs. If we sold them in 1s and 2s you'd be looking at £6.50 max.

    Performance = SoftXpand not only unlocks the OS to allow sharing to take place, but also lhas intelligent CPU & GPU load balancing. We recognise that this would be required with mulitlpe users so SoftXpand balances the host PC resources between the computer's CPU & the video card's GPU, & distributes them between the workstations (Keybard, monitor, mouse) according to their needs. You won't believe this until you see it and use it. I didn't either in the beginning! So to recap, there's process, service, & graphics balancing going on.

    Windows XP = You can use this as gospel; "With SoftXpand you only need 1 license of the operating system per PC." Until Microsoft come up with another brief in the same way they did last year to NComputing, you require only 1 license of the OS - having worked with them to develop Windows 7 compatibility we know this model will continue (until the first 10,000 user deal is announced...!?). We recommend that end users take 1 application per workstation however (or else resellers would lose out on revenue). We certainly do not pass the buck onto the end user either as David suggested in previous posts. When we talk about anti virus software where only a hard drive is being checked then you'd need only 1 license per MC. Microsoft are working with us now & I'll give you an example why. A small Leeds school took 36 workstations last month. 6 copies of Windows, but 36 copies of Office. They wrote to us and said "were it not for SoftXpand we would only have been able to buy 18 PCs". We passed this onto Microsoft. They got 18 additional licenses of Office out of this. Office as we all know is more expensive than Windows.

    SoftXpand 3 = Certain RM software is not compatible with SoftXpand 2 so RM users who have paid a fortune for their RM CC3 networks will have to wait a short while to experience the benefits of The Ultimate Green IT Solution, Software of the Year, Technology Innovation of the Year, etc

    However what I'd say is to call me or CCS and ask for some clients details who are using SoftXpand.

    Now then David...

    I gather you are the Network Manager from Alton Convent? You've tended to be rather disparaging about SoftXpand and we've attempted to get in touch several times. Whether you prefer NComputing, Thin Clients or SoftXpand you have to admit that what we're all doing for environmental IT is huge and reducing costs for the end users like you is also significant, no? From what I've read about you it would be great if you allowed MiniFrameUK the chance to provide you with a working demonstration of Multiseat computing powered by SoftXpand. We have an official Partner not far away from you at all. Forget the staff room, you can use SoftXpand everywhere wihtin the school.

    Give me a call on 01629 700270 & I'd be delighted to arrange; all we ask for is the chance, eh. If you have NComputing in your staff room then it shows you want affordable energy efficient, multi user computing. NComputing reps visited us last month & left the building wanting a job with us. If that's not powerful I don't know what is. Side by side we don't have a thin client server based solution like they do as it's been done to death and they will NEVER catch up with Wyse and Citrix. We operate at a desktop level which is accesible to all.

    If anyone else has comments to make or issues with SoftXpand please post, and I'll do my best to answer or have your questions answered. We know the product's not perfect, and only with client feedback will it become the best it can be.

    Best regards,
    Col

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    multipoint (1st October 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by miniframeuk View Post
    My name is Colin, I am the BDM for MiniFrameUK based in Derbyshire & this is my first day on edugeek.
    Hello, welcome. Thank you for joining this discussion board, it's always good to have vendors around to ask questions of, it really helps us end-users if there's someone who actually knows the system on hand.

    You've noticed that there is no proprietory hardware needed so you can specify which ever USB Hubs you want
    Do you sell monitors with built-in USB hubs on the side? I've found those to work well in the past. Either that or USB hubs that clip on the side of the monitor.

    SoftXpand not only unlocks the OS to allow sharing to take place, but also lhas intelligent CPU & GPU load balancing.
    It would be interesting to see a review that compared SoftXpand's system with NComputing's, Userful's and any similar systems. I imagine the systems based on having one graphics port per workstations (as, if I understand correctly, yours is) would come out on top for performance, but it would be nice to see a proper comparision somewhere.

    With SoftXpand you only need 1 license of the operating system per PC.
    Okay, fair enough, sounds like your system is a bargain, then. Does it only work on Windows XP or is it available on Windows Server 2003 and/or 2008? Does your system only work on Windows, or a will a Mac or Linux version be available at some point?

    I gather you are the Network Manager from Alton Convent? You've tended to be rather disparaging about SoftXpand and we've attempted to get in touch several times.
    I'm sorry you haven't been able to get hold of me, if you've phoned the school I've probably been away from my desk. You can always send me a private message on this message board, but really we'd do better to stick to public messages as then the information contained in them can be seen by other people too, which saves having to repeat stuff.

    Also, sorry if you got the idea that I wasn't all that impressed with your system in the past, I actually think it's a very good idea, it's just that I've had some trouble finding out more information about it. In a post regarding NComputing's system a while back someone mentioned the SoftXpand system, which struck me as a good idea, but they were unable to answer further questions about it. You website could be a little clearer, too - I can't find the part that points out that you need multiple graphics cards per system.

    Could you tell us how much a six-workstation setup would cost, fully inclusive of screens and USB hubs, etc? And an 8-workstation setup? Is 8 workstations the maximum one system can handle? As I asked over on another thread: Where does the sound come out for each workstation? Do you have to get a separate USB sound card for each workstation (not expensive, but good to know)? Do you sell you system as software-only, or do you only sell integrated systems - ready-made PCs with your software installed?

    From what I've read about you it would be great if you allowed MiniFrameUK the chance to provide you with a working demonstration of Multiseat computing powered by SoftXpand.
    Thanks, I will bear that in mind. The Head is back in next week, I will discuss with her what work we're doing over the summer and see if there's time/money to see about looking at one of your systems.

    If anyone else has comments to make or issues with SoftXpand please post, and I'll do my best to answer or have your questions answered. We know the product's not perfect, and only with client feedback will it become the best it can be.
    Ah, now that's a proper attitude for a vendor to have!

    --
    David Hicks

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    David,

    Thanks for your warm welcome, I knew the stories weren't true about you! LOL! Again some questions out of the top trumps stable, and I'll do my best to answer. I've now set aside Social Media time because the atmosphere is more relaxed. You get to give your full attention when you can, rather than hit and miss on the phone.

    USB = We've trialled the monitors but have found them to be uneconomical so far. There's a couple of innovative start ups out of Cambridge that have come up with some IP and sold it to Samsung I think who're taking their time to release. We'll keep testing them as they come out. The latest development really is the partner we've signed called Ceratech. They build keyboards and we've got several demo models here full of USB ports. Each has a weird design flaw (like the USB ports are so close that you can only stick one USB stick in and nothing else) but are working well. Because monitors are kind of a commodity for those of us that sell them, I think you'll see the keyboards acting as the USB hub rather than the monitor from MiniFrameUK. However if the client likes them, we'll provide them. They really push the price up though David, and it means we cannot lock away the USB hub. Alot of schools are taking desks from us with lockable trunking areas on them, telescopic legs, etc We're trying to stay away from the proprietory hardware route though David, but we don't mind hardware vendors building Muliseat Computer specific hardware.

    Competetive Analysis = That day is coming! Has Userful worked out how to do their magic on Windows now?! That brings them right into our territory then as before they were only Linux and to be honest in a commercial sense we haven't once encountered them nor seen one of their products in action. The only performance review by the trade press on SoftXpand was done in PC Plus Magazine by Mike Bedford, against VMWare and Microsoft. We won the performance award there, so it'll be fun testing against NComputing. NComputing are more desktop virtualisation for me, more thin client, less multimedia. I think I see where you were going though, with the 1 graphics port per access device. Say you need a 6 user PC, you'd /we'd need to have a PC with 3 x dual head graphics cards. The ONLY way to test the performance hypothesis would be to do so side by side. We've tried to get independent studies done, but they always want money. We're growing at a silly rate now which means cash flow gets burned pretty fast too, & performance benchmarking hasn't been a priority. The Co-Operative Group have some figures, just can't show them off. I've got to reiterrate that the load balancing of SoftXpand is what will blow you away.

    OS Compatibility = Linux / Novell Client working. Now then, let's see this work. You've asked a question, I've asked the techies, they've said we don't know we'll try it and let you know! For me I think from a commercial perspective running SoftXpand on Windows Server would clarify the operating system licensing anyway. User CAL tastic! LOL! So truth be told, I'll have to report back on this one.

    Demonstrations = We're happy to leave units with customers for 30 days for pilots etc, it's just getting them at the right time, stage, to agree to it. We offer a free software trial, however it's a 4 user only, and lasts only 80 hours, but gets the message accross. Ceratech are a few miles from you, so we can be ready when you are. The interesting thing is that a PC consumes around £150 a year on electricity. So if you can decomission / redeploy PCs elsewehere using SoftXpand then the payback would be within a year and a half on average. There would be some elbow grease required here of course. SoftXpand is not as plug and playable as the NComputing / Userful solutions with their access devices. Give the network manager at St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate a tinckle too. He's said he'll take calls if it boosts the profile of his establishment. You've got to love that.

    Pricing = May not be the cheapest I appreciate, however hope you'll agree best mix of price, performance, energy efficiency. Also hope I don't get in trouble with my resellers!;

    1 x 6 user PC with the spec here Multiseat PC Specification is being sold at an SRP of £1,200. This includes the PC, 6 SoftXpand licenses, keyboards, monitors, mice, hubs, windows XP. 19" TFT are between £70 & £100 (remember I don't sell direct). Again because of the commodity element in the monitor world resellers are reporting that schools find it just as easy to pop to PC World and get cheap and cheerful 19" for under £60. You can specify any monitor as there are no screen resolution problems at all. We don't have pricing for an 8 user system as we're looking for a motherboard that can cope. I hope I haven't mislead here so will have to get back to you.

    The SRP for a SoftXpand license for competent IT professionals who would build their own PCs is £65; just spotted your question on this, so yes you can buy SoftXpand on its own or as part of a PC solution.

    Due to hardware restrictions 8 is currently the magic number, although we push the 6 user the most.

    Sound = The sound will come from USB sound cards & speakers / headphones (we can bundle these at £8.50 per user but prices fluctuate in distribution for these). So yep, 1 per workstation my friend.

    Thanks David for taking the time to reply & giving me the right to reply and thanks Andy for your original questions and hope I've helped.

    Kind regards,
    Col

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    Quote Originally Posted by miniframeuk View Post
    I knew the stories weren't true about you!
    Ah, that was probably a different David Hicks. The [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hicks"]chap[/ame] they caught running around Afghanistan with a bazooka wasn't me. Honest.

    We've trialled the monitors but have found them to be uneconomical so far.
    Okay. I was quite pleased with the second hand Dell 15" monitors with built-in USB hubs that we got for £40 each, but obviously there's only a limited supply of those around.

    The latest development really is the partner we've signed called Ceratech. They build keyboards and we've got several demo models here full of USB ports.
    Like a Mac keyboard, kind of thing?

    Has Userful worked out how to do their magic on Windows now?!
    No, it's just that we were intending to run Linux workstations anyway, so a system that only works on Linux is just fine for us. Userful are strangely pricey for a system that runs on top of a free operating system, mind - they cost the same as Windows Server 2003 licenses / CALs, and need an annual fee.

    The only performance review by the trade press on SoftXpand was done in PC Plus Magazine by Mike Bedford, against VMWare and Microsoft.
    Do you have a link to the article anywhere?

    I think I see where you were going though, with the 1 graphics port per access device. Say you need a 6 user PC, you'd /we'd need to have a PC with 3 x dual head graphics cards.
    I was thinking that the graphics hardware would aid performance - you have at least half a graphics card for each workstation, so graphics performance should be pretty good. I imagine a 3-graphics card PC draws a fair bit of power, though - still good compared with 6 separate PCs, but I imagine your PCs have to have a kW-rated power supply? Also, it's difficult (if not impossible) to find a motherboard with three matching expansion cards these days. Does your system work with mixed expansion cards?

    The ONLY way to test the performance hypothesis would be to do so side by side.
    Now, there's an idea. How much have your "independent studies" people asked for in the past? I have 12 spare 15" screens, potentially some space to put the workstations in, and some potential users. I could ask the head about conducting a comparison between the two systems.

    OS Compatibility = Linux / Novell Client working.
    Okay, does this mean I can download a package of some kind from your website and have SoftXpand working on Ubuntu 9.04?

    For me I think from a commercial perspective running SoftXpand on Windows Server would clarify the operating system licensing anyway.
    Yes. Do please let us all know if SoftXPand works on Server 2003 / 2008.

    1 x 6 user PC ... £1,200.
    Okay, that's not bad - £200 per workstation.

    The SRP for a SoftXpand license for competent IT professionals who would build their own PCs is £65
    So £400 for a 6-workstation machine? Hmm, not bad.

    Sound = The sound will come from USB sound cards & speakers / headphones
    Any experience with the cheap USB "sound card" devices you can get off eBay for around £5?

    --
    David Hicks

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    Slapped wrists

    Hi David, Hi Everyone.

    I'm afraid I made a few mistakes yesterday & apologise in advance. I'll correct some here...

    Linux = The mother ship has told me that demand wasn't high enough to support the R&D of a Linux version of SoftXpand, 7 also that there are quite a few flavours of Linux based multi-user application software. Novell however is supported. David I'm sorry for this mistake as I know now you're a fan of open source.

    USB Monitors / Hubs / Sound Cards = You would have a tremendous looking & clean & tidy set up with the Dell monitors, & at the price you paid you got a great deal. However, the reason we have settled on the Targus 4 port Hubs is because of the length of the fly lead, their consistency of supply because of our relationship with Targus, & value for money. We're testing some set ups using 4 port USB Cables with shrink wrapped connections to stop meddlesome students unplugging too. The sound card on Ebay should do the trick but we do recommend trying a set on a SoftXpand system before buying in quantity. We can supply from stock what look like the same ones, tested by us for a similar price. And yes you're right the Ceratech range are similar to those Mac keyboards with mouse connected to the keyboard. By the way Geoff from Ceratech will probably kill me when he reads that I said his keyboards are "weird".

    Side by side test = I think we'd love to take you up on this offer. The results could be included in a white paper, the press would love it, & we'd have empirical evidence for which solution works best where. You've got NComputing, We could supply a 6 user SoftXpand MC, but do you have any Userful product too? NComputing by definition is a thin client solution though. Can I stay in touch with you on this?

    Motherboards for a scalable 6 user MC = The tech guys here had a good old laugh at my response to you & reckon you were pretty polite in your reply! We specifically choose hi-spec motherboards that support full length PCI Express cards & are in regular contact with MSI; they modified the BIOS & really push the concept to gamers for us. We use identical sets of PCI Express graphics cards in all our systems. Our PSUs are rated at 500 watts although our system only draws around 110 watts under load. And yes you were right, the graphics acceleration improves performance significantly. The main difference to clients is the ability to run graphics intensive packages & multimedia. I believe that's where we've won orders against NComputing recently. In addition and again seeing is believing, the MCs pump out cold air.

    PC Plus article = There's a link from the website here http://www.miniframeuk.com/files/pc_plus_review.pdf There

    Pricing = In my speed typing haste, I believe I included monitors as part of the £1,200 6 user MC price. It doesn't include monitors I am afraid & hope I haven't deceived anyone. Monitors are separate. However if you include 6 x 19" HannsG TFT @ £80 each, then the price becomes £1,680, which is £280 per workstation with tremendous performance. (Plus you'll need to add your USB sound cards). Also my boss IM'd me the funniest put down from a boss I've had in a while. Yesterday I wrote "may not be the cheapest I appreciate".... My boss replied to me "I haven't seen a cheaper solution - Do not compare Rolls-Royce with Fisher Price!" Thought you might enjoy that one!

    Windows Server = I must point out that SoftXpand is not a server solution, the idea is to bring processing power back to the people at the client level, which is why it works so well. The guys are testing it though as I write, overcoming an issue with loading video drivers. We think that it would be more expensive than using Windows XP / 7. However, I'll let you know as soon as I do.

    Hopefully we're building a technology that you guys want to use & will benefit from, so we do appreciate the feedback.

    Best,
    Col

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    By strange coincidence I've been looking into this myself over the past couple of days!

    @miniframeuk - Are you a complete solution reseller, or do you/can you supply software only? If you do software only, am I right in thinking the software costs about £50 per seat?

    If you are a complete solution reseller - do you build to order? If I gave a spec sheet specifying processor/amount of ram/hdd - could you build and supply on that basis?

    Is this software tested on Windows 7 RC? Is it 64bit compatible? How active are the developers in updating the software and maintaining support with new service packs etc?

    It's these last three questions that have lead to a dead end in our testing/evalutation of nComputing. nComputing seems very good and we will be using for our small library suite. But it doesn't seem mature enough/well supported for consideration on a class of 30 stations.

    edit: additional question - I take users are authenticated against AD on logon? This system is not limited to using local user accounts only?
    Last edited by tmcd35; 14th May 2009 at 12:29 PM.

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    Hey Terry,

    Thank you for joining the discussion & I'm glad you're looking into Multiseating. Your questions are usually what the resellers would ask of me, but will help clarify who we are really.

    MiniFrame = Software developers based in Israel, developed SoftXpand.
    MiniFrameUK = UK Distributor & UK office of MiniFrame for SoftXpand, & manufacturer of Multiseat Computers. Software testing & PC builds carried out here. MiniFrameUK is a division of Kira Supplies Ltd/
    Kira Supplies Ltd = official partner of MiniFrameUK, Complete computer solutions provider.
    End client = You.

    As you can see above, it's the typical IT reseller channel model. So to answer the questions;

    MiniFrameUK sells via reseller partners, our official Partners are listed on our website. We do deal direct with end users via our reseller company Kira Supplies Ltd, particularly where no reseller exists. This essentially IS our company and is a full service, complete computer solutions provider and can provide the licenses only, standard MCs or bespoke builds, as well as many other products & services. So yes effectively we can build and supply on the basis you specified.

    SoftXpand SRPs @ £65 + VAT per user.

    The software is tested with and working well on Windows 7, and is 64 bit compatible. In terms of keeping up pace with service packs, we're always on top of this, not an issue.

    Before you go for NComputing in the library get in touch with me offline colin@miniframeuk.com One of our biggest deployments is at Oriel High School about 13 miles from you, the Network Manager Mark is pretty proud of his set up and gives the good with the bad too. The case study's here http://www.miniframeuk.com/files/Oriel.pdf He orders licenses and components through us.

    Look forwards to hearing from you.

    Cheers,
    Col

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    Thanks for the reply.

    The library is a goer with nComputing, unless continuing test fail so miserably we have no choice but to scrap it. This is purely a cost decision - we have half the kit needed already!

    Like whys our next main suite will be built the traditional way. Again plans too far advanced, going in the summer. Too late to look at alternatives.

    But, we really should keep in touch because I would really like to see this type of solution work. I've read through the Oriel pdf and it was very interesting. Indeed the most interesting bit was at the end about GPO's. The fact that the developers got it working within 6 weeks.

    I have a budget to replace some admin machines this year. I'm thinking about following Oriels lead and testing this in our staff room. If it works then my plan as always been to use this type of technology in next years room refresh - looking like it could be as early as Easter.

    Again If it works it will have knock on effects on how we plan and provision suites after that. In fact we have one suite that needs to move room next year and this could effect cabling plans and costs.

    I think I may also need to get in touch with Oriel and have a look at their system.

    Interesting.

    Terry.
    Last edited by tmcd35; 14th May 2009 at 02:13 PM.

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    Nice one Terry, thanks for the info. Good luck with the trials, and we're here when needed. I think it's great that Network Managers on this forum are innovative enough to look at alternative technologies to the mainstream.

    If you'd like to follow updates etc then add me on twitter, I'm /miniframeuk

    Best regards,
    Col

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    Quote Originally Posted by miniframeuk View Post
    demand wasn't high enough to support the R&D of a Linux version of SoftXpand, 7 also that there are quite a few flavours of Linux based multi-user application software.
    Okay.

    The sound card on Ebay should do the trick but we do recommend trying a set on a SoftXpand system before buying in quantity. We can supply from stock what look like the same ones, tested by us for a similar price.
    Ah, those sound good.

    Side by side test = I think we'd love to take you up on this offer. The results could be included in a white paper, the press would love it, & we'd have empirical evidence for which solution works best where. You've got NComputing, We could supply a 6 user SoftXpand MC, but do you have any Userful product too? NComputing by definition is a thin client solution though. Can I stay in touch with you on this?
    It would be best to compare like-for-like as much as possible. We've got a couple of two-workstation Userful machines upstairs in Year 3 and a four-workstation NComputing machine in the staffroom. We could do with getting three identical PCs, fitting two with three graphics cards each and running Userful on one and SoftXpand on the other and installing an NComputing card in the other. We have 12 spare 15" 1024 X 768 screens, 18 if you count the ones upstairs in the German classroom. Would SoftXpand be willing to pay for our costs to conduct this test - 3 PCs, 6 graphics cards, an NComputing card, appropriate Windows licenses?

    We specifically choose hi-spec motherboards that support full length PCI Express cards
    Okay, so we're looking for motherboards that support three PCI Express graphics cards. I'm sure eBay can come up with a bunch of "gaming" boards like that.

    The main difference to clients is the ability to run graphics intensive packages & multimedia.
    Can you system run Adobe Creative Suite 3 (or 4) on workstations? Can it run video editing applications?

    £1,200 6 user MC price.
    What does "MC" mean? Does your system support 1024 X 768 resolution screens?

    --
    David Hicks

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Okay, so we're looking for motherboards that support three PCI Express graphics cards. I'm sure eBay can come up with a bunch of "gaming" boards like that.
    --
    David Hicks
    Insight UK - ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 - Motherboard - ATX - iX58 -...


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    David!

    How're you doing sir? Apologies for the latency in responding, no excuses but Channel Expo is coming up and it's the first time we've had a stand to target resellers. It's pretty nerve racking.

    First off thanks for not getting on me for my original mistakes! Very British!

    Will have to get back to you on costs, but my original thoughts are not a chance as you've paid for NComputing & Userful. They state that their systems run the same on any PC. We will most definetely provide a SoftXpand powered Multiseat Computer (MC) for the length of the test. However saying that, I'll see the position of the project manager on stock levels and see if we can't wangle 3 PCs for you as despite the test being of value it will take your time up. Can't harm asking though, eh?

    We're working with Adobe on their Premier / CS products. There is something specific with them that only allows 1 session of this software to open at one time so they won't work in multi-user environments. The rest of the Adobe range is fine. The technicians are aware of this, and are working to resolve it. Incidentally it was Adobe who we first approached to ask for their stance on licensing. After 6 months they came back and said "we think you'd need 1 copy per user". This is pretty typical of the software vendors. The latest Butler report on us stated that SoftXpand will be the single most disruptive technology over the next 5 years for software vendors.

    Video Editing is not a problem. However... I say that but I do know if you have 6 users editing at the same time, the system will slow down, and the CPU usage will reach a maximum level. It's wise to test and then reduce the number of users per MC in line with the system capabilities. If you specify something better than our typical 6 user MC then that also works fine.

    I'm glad you asked about MC and also about screen resolution. MC stands for Multiseat Computer which is the new computer niche that we're trying to create. You'll discover that SoftXpand is not a classic desktop 'virtualisation' product, not a PC, and not a thin client. Screen resolution can be set to any size not a problem. We don't suffer from the NComputing problems there, although they may have solved this by now?

    Hope you have a nice weekend, and if I take longer to reply next week you know why. I can access emails on the iPhone, but it gets messy when linking to the blog, so if anyone needs me direct it's colin@miniframeuk.com

    Best regards,
    Col

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    Hi Colin,

    I've been to Oriel now and seen their set up. I am mighty impressed. I think you already know that I'm itching to try it here. I do how ever have one problem...

    Windows XP = You can use this as gospel; "With SoftXpand you only need 1 license of the operating system per PC." Until Microsoft come up with another brief in the same way they did last year to NComputing, you require only 1 license of the OS - having worked with them to develop Windows 7 compatibility we know this model will continue (until the first 10,000 user deal is announced...!?).
    According to the current (Vista Business) Windows EULA, this is not true...

    Clasue 2b states
    Number of Users. Except as provided in the Device Connections and Other Access
    Technologies sections below, only one user may use the software at a time.
    Clause 3b states
    Remote Access Technologies. You may access and use the software installed on the
    licensed device remotely from another device using remote access technologies as
    follows.
    · Remote Desktop. The single primary user of the licensed device may access a
    session from any other device using Remote Desktop or similar technologies. A
    “session” means the experience of interacting with the software, directly or indirectly,
    through any combination of input, output and display peripherals. Other users may
    access a session from any device using these technologies, if the remote device is
    separately licensed to run the software.
    · Other Access Technologies. You may use Remote Assistance or similar technologies
    to share an active session.
    And worst of all clause e....
    e. Multiplexing. Hardware or software you use to
    · pool connections, or
    · reduce the number of devices or users that directly access or use the software
    (sometimes referred to as “multiplexing” or “pooling”), does not reduce the number of
    licenses you need.
    Microsoft are working with us now & I'll give you an example why. A small Leeds school took 36 workstations last month. 6 copies of Windows, but 36 copies of Office. They wrote to us and said "were it not for SoftXpand we would only have been able to buy 18 PCs". We passed this onto Microsoft. They got 18 additional licenses of Office out of this. Office as we all know is more expensive than Windows.
    In short do you have any evidence you can provide us that M$ are supporting this product on a 1 license per miniframe bases?

    If not then I can only see three licensing models that will/may allow the use of this product. I'm investigate options 2 and 3 has option 1 is a non-starter...

    option 1 - Buy FULL OEM copies at £100 each for each workstation - That's £600 on a 6 station Miniframe - ouch! Remember the schools Select license agreement are upgrade licenses so you NEED THESE ORIGINAL LICENSES BEFORE YOU CAN USE A SCHOOL AGREEMENT LICENSE

    option 2 - Buy 1 FULL OEM copie at £100 and then buy 1 or 2 Vista Enterprise licenses. Vista Enterprise allows up to 4 Virtual Machines run on top of the base install. A 6-8 station Miniframe would thus need 2 Vista Enterprise licenses. I'm currently looking at this through my LAR channels.

    Option 3...
    Windows Server = I must point out that SoftXpand is not a server solution, the idea is to bring processing power back to the people at the client level, which is why it works so well. The guys are testing it though as I write, overcoming an issue with loading video drivers. We think that it would be more expensive than using Windows XP / 7. However, I'll let you know as soon as I do.
    Are you getting any where with this? This is actually the most sensible and practical of l the licensing options. This is how I'm licensing the use of nComputing. Does it Work with Windows 2008 Server? If not are the programmers willing to look at getting Win2k8 support so we can stay legal with this product?

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