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Network and Classroom Management Thread, Thin Clients in Technical; Hi. A quick question as I need advice from you pro's out there about thin clients and the whole virtulisation ...
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    Thin Clients

    Hi.

    A quick question as I need advice from you pro's out there about thin clients and the whole virtulisation scheme of things.

    I currently work in a UK secondary school with 300 student machines and 1200 student users.

    The network can be tricky to manage at the best of times with hardware going wrong often.

    We currently work off 2 IBM X servers which have dual quad core processors and 8gb RAM each

    What do people think of virtulising machines?

    - We need to upgrade this year around 80 machines and I was wondering what was required to use the thin clients and if these were a good option for a school of my size. - What does the network infrastructure require and how many servers etc would I need with the view of going to all thin clients over the next few years?


    The reason for wanting to go to thin clients for me mainly is the advantages it brings in deploying new programmes etc as you would only need to this once and everyone sees the changes with no fuss or hassle and hardware would not go wrong etc.

    Also what would be needed to use the current desktops we have in a virtual environment - Most Students machines are only a couple of years old and are dual core with 2gb RAM - Could these be setup so that on startup they could login to a virtual machine remotely?

    Any help & advice would be greatly appreciated and if anybody could provide any rough costings to be looking at that would also be great.


    Thank you!

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    What sort of applications do you intend to run over the thin clients?

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Hi,

    With regards to the virtulization are you looking to move some of your servers over to VM's? if so what servers are you thinking off? near enough all services can be run using VM's providing the HOST machines have the correct hardware in them (RAM) being a core peice of Hardware.

    Moving over to Virtual Servers is a good option to be honest espeically if your looking into redundancy and the usage of hardware, the only things i would recommend you do use as a VM are Storage Servers i would look at getting a SAN/NAS for this.

    Storage for your VM's Server wise again you could also have a SAN to do this and then have a 2nd SAN for redundancy that you can live migrate machines between.

    The way you go above really depends on your budget and what you have to spend to do so, if your servers are pretty new anyway normally you can do a majority with just upgrading the RAM etc.

    __

    on the Thin Client route, there are many positives to this and it does work very well and to be honest with regards to applications they cope well with education apps, i would not recommend you place such devices in areas such as DT/Art/Media that will be running intensive applications.

    ICT is where people like to place such devices and always query the Adobe Suite, this runs fine when i tested it although it was with SUN VDI so cant speak for Terminal Services but i assume it would cope okay.

    which brings we onto the next question, you could go mutiple different ways in regards to Thin Clients, you could do the usual Terminal Services and then purchase Thin Clients (HP, Axel etc) and do it that way which is probably cheaper (not sure?) or/ you could go down the SUN VDI route which is where i went and have VDI Terminals (SunRays) using VirtualBox, HyperV or Terminal Services again.

    If your looking into the VDI/ThinClient Route i would recommend you speak to Andy from CutterProject he has alot of expirience with this kind of deployment/project it is using Sun Kit which yes has a high price tag (i'll hold my hands up) BUT is very very good hardware and you cannot knock it espeically the VDI Terminals.

    If you wish to find out more about that route feel free to also drop me a PM.

    __

    I think i'll leave it at that,

    Hope that helps

    James.

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    MatthewL

    It would need to run Office 2003/2007, Dreamweaver, Flash & Fireworks, Photoshop, Movie Maker, Internet Explorer, Google Sketchup.

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    You're touching on a huge topic here, pages could be written which would probably only confuse you more.

    Given the information you provided I would do the following:
    - continue to run thick clients due to really good specs on the workstations, using them as a thin client is a waste.
    - use App-V or Thinapp or similar to deliver apps, this will achieve your set it up once and everyone gets it desire. App-V handles licensing which others do not.
    - ensure you have a gigabit network from server to workstation.
    - virtualise your servers.
    - Deep Freeze or SteadyState (if XP) your workstations.

    This will give you a really reliable result if you set students up with a mandatory profile. The workstation cannot be corrupted, and if an app plays up, just push it out again.

    Thin clients are only just coping with video (VMware with PCoIP, but this does not work with Win7 yet), and will not cope with DirectX programs, keeping a thick client overcomes this.

    If you decide a particular path is for you, happy to provide more details as required.

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    Thanks EDUTECH for your really indepth answer which has been most useful!

    _ADAM_ I like your answer and this sound ideal.

    My school already has a gigabyte connection via Fibre around the school and we already use deepfreeze which is a great product by I hate it personally as it takes so much longer to do everything... I only found out about the Microsoft SteadyState version yesterday - Is this better and is it easier to manage MS updates & SIMS updates etc? Also if we were to put antivirus on the Student Desktops could steadystate be asked to allow and keep the updates?

    How much would I be looking at to just virtualise the APPS then and what is required on the client desktops to do this?
    Also would I require more Server Power?


    Thank you.

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    I have a feeling that the likes of photoshop and the rest of the adobe suite won't perform well has virtulised apps over the network as they are very processor hungry - something to bear in mind.

    toby

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    I recently answered a survey from Faronics, they are looking to provide patch support for their non-Enterprise product. The Enterprise product allows for this already. I suspect they may charge for this however, something that puts SteadyState in the lead. SteadyState allows for a patch window which allows for Windows updates and AV updates. Not sure about SIMS, the first I heard of that is on these boards. If the update runs as a service without the need for a user to logon, then it would probably work.

    App-V is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP). You pay a license per seat per annum. Over here that is around AU$4/year per workstation. This gives you other products too so it's good value. You need to have the client installed on each workstation. The server would be fine with 1 CPU, 2GB and about 50GB (I use an MSSQL server to store the DB, using a local DB may increase the specs). The server only streams the apps, it does no real work which is why the specs are low. But if you're streaming apps between 50MB - 1GB you'll want gigabit to the workstation and maybe team server NICs.

    A positive of packaging apps, even if the app needs an admin user once packaged the user does not need admin rights. Apps can expire so if a notebook goes missing and does not sync with the server, it will timeout.

    Apps are cached on the client on a virtual Q:, which is a hidden file. Deep Freeze or SteadyState would erase this on log out. I allow this to happen but you may want to investigate further to keep the cache. This would potentially lighten the server load.

    If you virtualised your server, you could easily host an App-V server on existing hardware assuming diskspace allows for it.

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    @glennda - you are right in a way, we run CS4 Design Premium and went the site license. SCCM puts this in our Tier 1 SOE as it's too large to package with App-V (Microsoft file size limit). Individual apps would be fine however as these vary from 800MB - 1.5GB.

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    Thanks everyone - there is some really fantastic info here and it is much appreciated!

    Are there any specialist companies I could contact about virtulisation as I really wouldn't know where to start but it does seem the way forward.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    I have a feeling that the likes of photoshop and the rest of the adobe suite won't perform well has virtulised apps over the network as they are very processor hungry - something to bear in mind.

    toby
    Sorry that was a bad comment on my part, the Adobe Web Collection works very well on our Sun VDI Deployment the main applications in use being Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Flash the applications such as photoshop i would agree probably would not run on this kind of deployment. although i suppose it also depends on the nature of the work being carried out, our kids dont do anything fancy in these applications so it is probably why they can cope with it where as if you try working how a pro would someone such as "Sysman" then you would struggle.

    James.

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