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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, General Advice - is it worth it for us? in Technical; ...
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    General Advice - is it worth it for us?

    Hi,

    I work in a school with 400 boys and about 50 staff. Currently we have in total about 130 computers - 40 laptops and the rest desktops. We're looking to virtualise the desktops so staff will be able to see their school desktop from home (and the other usual advantages). We've been quoted about £70k to get everything set up (2 big servers, software licensing and about 25 days of consultancy to include end user application testing with the new virtual environment). We're coming up next year for an ICT refresh when we'd normally buy additional desktops and retire some of the others (we have this planned for every 4 years with a budget of approx £40k). Do you think that it will be worth going down the virtual route and spend the money we would have put on the desktops to virtualising everything instead in the undestanding that over the longer term there will be a slight cost saving? I work part time here as the technician and the computers have so far been fairly reliable so people don't tend to be without computers ever for more than an hour which has happened maybe 3-4 times in the last 4 years.

    Any advice welcome,

    Richard

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    Axel's Avatar
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    .... you could also consider using Citrix or Microsoft's terminal services (RDS) - this would still give users access to their desktop from home and be a lot cheaper/easier to setup.

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    what about making sure everything is available by a web browser instead. then no need for VDI at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbjames View Post
    We've been quoted about £70k to get everything set up (2 big servers, software licensing and about 25 days of consultancy to include end user application testing with the new virtual environment).
    Thats insane.
    Speak to these guys:
    Quru :: About

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    If you have the MS schools licensing of some sort i am given to understand that RDS licences will be available at a highly preferential rate.

    We are going to be looking at this very soon to extend the useful life of some of our lower spec desktops, rather than to purchase new machines for our 'going to windows 7 project'. We intend to only do this at the moment for our predominantly office based 'generic admin task' users and for communal desktops to ensure that it is fit for purpose. If it works we will look to increase the scope further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oaktech View Post
    If you have the MS schools licensing of some sort i am given to understand that RDS licences will be available at a highly preferential rate.

    We are going to be looking at this very soon to extend the useful life of some of our lower spec desktops, rather than to purchase new machines for our 'going to windows 7 project'. We intend to only do this at the moment for our predominantly office based 'generic admin task' users and for communal desktops to ensure that it is fit for purpose. If it works we will look to increase the scope further.
    Seriously don't waste your time. For £30-40,000 you could get a much better physical system (with a virtual backend)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    Seriously don't waste your time. For £30-40,000 you could get a much better physical system (with a virtual backend)
    you underestimate the enforced ducks-bottom nature of our SMT.

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    .... you could also consider using Citrix or Microsoft's terminal services (RDS) - this would still give users access to their desktop from home and be a lot cheaper/easier to setup.
    Spot on.

    For providing a school desktop outside of school just go with something like RDS. We use RDWebAccess here and can push out any application installed on the server individually (IE running an instance of Word on the remote machine which is actually being processed on the server, providing all their school drives etc...) and we can provide a full RDP connection using standard RDP to windows, Mac and a real computer I mean linux

    All for a LOT LOT less than £70k!

    If you want to go thin client in the school then firstly don't chuck the old machines, just use them as thin clients. Secondly buy your own servers and save probably a third of the price they would charge, then look again at Microsoft solutions or failing that something like VMWare.

    It would take more time but there is no reason why you couldn't do 90-100% of a thin client migration in house to be honest.

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    we looked at vdi. It still has a number of issues within schools, mainly video still not being 100% (although that is considerably better than it was) and audio recording which was a big thing for us.

    We also looked at the byod side but got put off by MS licencing which is still very restrictive when looking at connecting a non school owned device to your hardware. (check vda licences here)

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowx View Post
    ...there is no reason why you couldn't do 90-100% of a thin client migration in house to be honest.
    God help you if you do!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    God help you if you do!
    But why? I see it as a challenge and a project to tailor exactly to our needs rather than buying something off a shelf and making do.

    I am a fan of linux and I think it's virtually a duty of schools to expose students to a variety of different bits of software including OS's and we have a server sitting around so when I get the chance I will be designing and making an edubuntu or similar server/client setup that's tailored to be exactly what we need it to be, that way me and my colleagues get a full and complete understanding of the system inside out so troubleshooting is 5x faster and we can apply tweaks whenever we need to.

    Outsourcing anything just leads to a lack of knowledge which in turns leads to longer troubleshooting and more headaches as well as getting a product that isn't what you wanted or expected. We do virtually everything in house here, cabling, hardware, software, internet filtering, security, email filtering and although it means I end up covered in crap from the lofts and what not we still get a much better result out of it!

    The thought of having to rely on someone else to run a handful of cables or change a filtering setting just makes me shudder!

    Though it does depend on how many techs you have and how much time you get (I speak like a network manager but I am just one of the lowly techs, I'm just lucky enough to have a NM that gets us all involved rather than keeping everything a secret)

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowx View Post
    But why? I see it as a challenge and a project to tailor exactly to our needs rather than buying something off a shelf and making do.

    I am a fan of linux and I think it's virtually a duty of schools to expose students to a variety of different bits of software including OS's and we have a server sitting around so when I get the chance I will be designing and making an edubuntu or similar server/client setup that's tailored to be exactly what we need it to be, that way me and my colleagues get a full and complete understanding of the system inside out so troubleshooting is 5x faster and we can apply tweaks whenever we need to.

    Outsourcing anything just leads to a lack of knowledge which in turns leads to longer troubleshooting and more headaches as well as getting a product that isn't what you wanted or expected. We do virtually everything in house here, cabling, hardware, software, internet filtering, security, email filtering and although it means I end up covered in crap from the lofts and what not we still get a much better result out of it!

    The thought of having to rely on someone else to run a handful of cables or change a filtering setting just makes me shudder!

    Though it does depend on how many techs you have and how much time you get (I speak like a network manager but I am just one of the lowly techs, I'm just lucky enough to have a NM that gets us all involved rather than keeping everything a secret)
    I think the crux of it comes down to the following:

    It is a huge investment for a school/company. Get it wrong, and you could spend the next 5 years trying to fix a square peg through a round hole.

    Getting someone to do the initial leg work for you doesn't mean letting go of your project, it means designing your project with them, with the understanding that they will deliver. If they fail, you don't pay etc etc. It's all well and good saying yeah I set up this system, but what about on going support, backups, speed, bottlenecks, or unseen issues along the way. I don't know anyone who hasn't completed an IT project who hasn't come across the typical IT weirdness, its part and parcel of the job!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    I think the crux of it comes down to the following:

    It is a huge investment for a school/company. Get it wrong, and you could spend the next 5 years trying to fix a square peg through a round hole.

    Getting someone to do the initial leg work for you doesn't mean letting go of your project, it means designing your project with them, with the understanding that they will deliver. If they fail, you don't pay etc etc. It's all well and good saying yeah I set up this system, but what about on going support, backups, speed, bottlenecks, or unseen issues along the way. I don't know anyone who hasn't completed an IT project who hasn't come across the typical IT weirdness, its part and parcel of the job!
    I definitely see what you are saying, we are lucky here in that we have a load of thin clients and a server sitting around not being used (an old project from before my time I believe that was outsourced and never sorted due to having a *nix backend), but provided you have enough test hardware, even just to setup a couple dozen over the course of a year, then you have a good basis to justify throwing out the big bucks.

    I wouldn't purchase hardware or software without testing it first on what we currently have otherwise like you say, it could be a massive pitful.

    I suppose at the end of the day it depends on your external partner and the sort of agreement you have, I wouldn't dream of completely oursourcing anything, I would always want heavy involvement to steer things the right way but more importantly to get the sort of understanding that you can only really get by being involved during the set up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowx View Post
    I definitely see what you are saying, we are lucky here in that we have a load of thin clients and a server sitting around not being used (an old project from before my time I believe that was outsourced and never sorted due to having a *nix backend), but provided you have enough test hardware, even just to setup a couple dozen over the course of a year, then you have a good basis to justify throwing out the big bucks.

    I wouldn't purchase hardware or software without testing it first on what we currently have otherwise like you say, it could be a massive pitful.

    I suppose at the end of the day it depends on your external partner and the sort of agreement you have, I wouldn't dream of completely oursourcing anything, I would always want heavy involvement to steer things the right way but more importantly to get the sort of understanding that you can only really get by being involved during the set up.
    Totally agree about being involved in the project, that's absolutely essential! It's almost impossible to support a project if you have looked upon the entire endeavor as a black box project.

    I think the mitigation of risk is very important to management, as in the end its their heads that large failures would land on. Nothing wrong with doing a project yourself, but in schools, as is the case in many places, you just cannot be an expert in every sector of your environment (of course it is expected that you would be and I think I speak for everyone on here that we do our best to do that every second of every day). It's silly to think that someone could be a systems expert in linux, Windows, VMware, HP Cisco Juniper etc switched networks, firewall, security, backup and project management!

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowx View Post
    But why? I see it as a challenge and a project to tailor exactly to our needs rather than buying something off a shelf and making do.

    I am a fan of linux and I think it's virtually a duty of schools to expose students to a variety of different bits of software including OS's and we have a server sitting around so when I get the chance I will be designing and making an edubuntu or similar server/client setup that's tailored to be exactly what we need it to be, that way me and my colleagues get a full and complete understanding of the system inside out so troubleshooting is 5x faster and we can apply tweaks whenever we need to.

    Outsourcing anything just leads to a lack of knowledge which in turns leads to longer troubleshooting and more headaches as well as getting a product that isn't what you wanted or expected. We do virtually everything in house here, cabling, hardware, software, internet filtering, security, email filtering and although it means I end up covered in crap from the lofts and what not we still get a much better result out of it!

    The thought of having to rely on someone else to run a handful of cables or change a filtering setting just makes me shudder!

    Though it does depend on how many techs you have and how much time you get (I speak like a network manager but I am just one of the lowly techs, I'm just lucky enough to have a NM that gets us all involved rather than keeping everything a secret)
    You've obviously not read any of my posts on this particular forum

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