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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Thin Clients aer not economical? (split from another thread) in Technical; Read your thrad and post and all of the links and more so tried to sell the TC idea to ...
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    Thin Clients aer not economical? (split from another thread)

    Read your thrad and post and all of the links and more so tried to sell the TC idea to SLT. They had a consultant in today and he insisted that TC Ntworks were uneconomical. Clients were similar price ot a PC and the servers were not that good!! Apparently, leasing is the way to go!

    Comments please!

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    I could walk through the whole thing but it will take a while so I will just make a couple of points - you will have a PM too!

    First thing to consider is the consultant's own agenda - does their company do leasing and 'fat client' solutions by any chance?

    Secondly, the only aspect regarding thin client solutions that may be seen as 'uneconomical' is the initial investment in the technology. There are ways to minimise this initial cost by utilising existing hardware. You then need to consider the reduced TCO and environmental impact that a thin-client solution has.

    I could go into other aspects about maximising the potential of your investment by utilising it 'out-of-hours' for remote access, etc. Just read your PM.

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    papakura (27th February 2008)

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    In some ways this is a bit like the "should we use Linux or Windows" argument. In most cases, there's scope for both. For certain things, thin clients will be better (for all values of "better"); for others they will be worse. As Ric says, you can probably re-use old kit - this saves money. Even if you buy new thin clients (at the same price as a fat client) they could last 10 years compared to 3-4 for a fat client.

    Set against that, it's hard work to get some stuff working on a thin client, you probably need more servers, a robust network etc so there's always a balance!

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    papakura (27th February 2008)

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    We run a mixed ecomony of fat and thin clients. We bought a fairly cheap HP box (under 1000) to act as a terminal server and we run 50 clients from it with no bother. We bought some new flat screens, mice and keyboards and refurbished (repaired face plates, cleaned etc.), turned them into thinclients and deployed the new monitors etc. The result is 50 PC's that look good as they have flat screens hiding the old base units and run quickly as they are thin client. In all they're ideal for the areas that browse the web and use office.

    Cost wise it worked out about 100 per station (inc. mouse, keyboard, monitor and client licence) + 1000 for the server, so for 6000 (120 each) we replaced 50 PC's.

    That seems like cracking value to me.

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    papakura (27th February 2008)

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    Like most things, the argument for TS depends on usage. Anywhere that is only going to run Office and Internet and little else is a good TS candidate - Admin, Library, Sixth Form Study areas, etc. Anywhere that uses any kind of multimedia intensive apps - Art, Music, ICT, etc - should be fat clients.

    We recently installed a room of 24 Thin clients as a new suite for our Business Studies department. I must say we are (with some teething problems) very pleased with it and are currently looking at putting about 28 terminals in our Library this Easter.

    If I remember rightly we were looking at using laptops. The cost of a Terminal Server, Thin Clients and having the room recabled was about 100 cheaper that 24 laptops, wireless and a Bretford trolley! Then again the server we're using may be a tad overkill - Quad Core with 8Gb Ram! - I think we're looking at Dual Core and 4Gb for the Library.

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    Sorry for hijacking the thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by jcollings View Post
    We run a mixed ecomony...
    I'm interested in learning a little more about your setup.

    What did you use on the machines themselves? Thinstation looks like a good candidate, and I'm contemplating the possibility of removing the hard drives and putting compact flash cards in.

    What applications do you run on the terminals? The room we're thinking of using has 24 workstations, and they run some 2D drawing programs, but nothing complex.

    How have you set up printing? Currently each row of machines has an A3 printer which is shared via the end station. If the machines were shared via a print server, would it be possible to have various machines only printing to certain printers?

    Thanks for your time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fafster View Post
    Sorry for hijacking the thread!



    I'm interested in learning a little more about your setup.

    What did you use on the machines themselves? Thinstation looks like a good candidate, and I'm contemplating the possibility of removing the hard drives and putting compact flash cards in.

    What applications do you run on the terminals? The room we're thinking of using has 24 workstations, and they run some 2D drawing programs, but nothing complex.

    How have you set up printing? Currently each row of machines has an A3 printer which is shared via the end station. If the machines were shared via a print server, would it be possible to have various machines only printing to certain printers?

    Thanks for your time.
    Yes we use thinstation which seems to work fine. We have just left the hard drives in but CF cards would be a plan. We just wanted to spend as little as possible. The workstations run Office 2003, IE, Openmind, techsoft 2d design - nothing too exciting but covering the basic stuff.

    All our printers are via a printserver so we just script them to get a printer based on the station name for the thin clients. I'm happy to share that with you as I think I got most of the code off here anyway!

    Hope this helps but just ask if I can be of further help.

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    fafster (28th February 2008)

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    If it's as simple as a script then I can't see any reason for not going ahead with this. I think I'll create a virtual network to play with, and also to give a demonstration of how it'll work. But yeah, if you have the code I'd be very grateful for a copy.

    How do you find your server's performance? I've build a custom spec on Dell for a 2xQuad Core Xeon 1.8GHz setup with 4GB of memory and it comes to ~1000 with 3Yr warranty.

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    @fafster: The printing situation is easily possible - start another thread and you will receive a multitude of replies giving you the different options.

    You can run nearly all your apps on the terminals. 3D apps are out, as are multimedia apps. My argument is that you should always compliment your TC network with specialist machines, using the best tool for the job. After all, if you were installing a suite of machines for music production, they would be specced up differently to those in a library - use the cost savings from running TCs to buy higher specced machines that can be replaced more frequently.

    Re-using existing kit is a great start as it can reduce your initial investment dramatically. You obviously will not reap all the benefits whilst at this stage - reduced footprint, zero-noise, reduced heat, reduced energy consumption - but these machines can have their lifecycles extended and be replaced with thin client devices as money becomes available.

    Thinstation is a good place to start - there isn't any need to replace the hard drives... just disconnect them and network boot. Any machines lacking the ability to network boot, I installed Etherboot to the hard disk until I was able to replace them - in my case though these machines were old and were beginning to suffer from hardware failure.

    I now use Linux-based terminals from HP and manage them with Altiris. I allow the terminal to boot into its local OS where the user simply receives the HP Connect window and they click a button. Very little administrative overhead and Altiris shuts down and starts up the machines for me on a schedule - further reducing the running costs.

    I'll shut up now... as I said, I could go on forever!

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    fafster (28th February 2008)

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    No, please do! The more ammunition I get for this, the more likely it will be that it's going to succeed.

    I guess I'll start that other printing thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by fafster View Post
    If it's as simple as a script then I can't see any reason for not going ahead with this. I think I'll create a virtual network to play with, and also to give a demonstration of how it'll work. But yeah, if you have the code I'd be very grateful for a copy.

    How do you find your server's performance? I've build a custom spec on Dell for a 2xQuad Core Xeon 1.8GHz setup with 4GB of memory and it comes to ~1000 with 3Yr warranty.
    My printer script on the wiki should suffice - it handles TCs fine.

    You don't need to get carried away with the processors - RAM and disk performance are the key factors. I very rarely see >75% processor load on my dual Opteron 2GHz boxes. The 4GB of RAM does take a pounding though. I also recommend 15000 rpm disks - obviously 30+ people using the machine leads to more reads of the hard disk so this can be a bottle-neck. Share the load across a couple of servers too - remember that if the server dies, all your clients do too so one beefy server is not necessarily as good as two slightly less beefy ones.

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    How would round robin DNS work on Server 2003?

    Does this idea sound plausible: If I had two servers, they would both have to sit between the classroom and the rest of the network. They would both have DHCP and DNS set up, but on one it would be disabled. If the one running the services failed, I'd just simply enable them on the other whilst it's being repaired.

    What kind of specifications am I realistically looking at?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    My printer script on the wiki should suffice - it handles TCs fine.

    You don't need to get carried away with the processors - RAM and disk performance are the key factors. I very rarely see >75% processor load on my dual Opteron 2GHz boxes. The 4GB of RAM does take a pounding though. I also recommend 15000 rpm disks - obviously 30+ people using the machine leads to more reads of the hard disk so this can be a bottle-neck. Share the load across a couple of servers too - remember that if the server dies, all your clients do too so one beefy server is not necessarily as good as two slightly less beefy ones.
    I think our script is probably the wiki one iirc (thanks Ric) and it works just fine. I tend to agree that a couple of lighter weight boxes are better than one big on - we are using some HP 1U rack mount ones - we just mirrored the drives for a bit of resiliance and stuck lots of RAM in it.

    I can see a time when we have a number of servers feeding lots of TS clients as large parts of the school do only use ICT for basic functions. The room we replaced all the monitors in looks nice and shiny which the head loves and the PC's would have been scrapped but now have a new lease of life.

    We built a spare PC as a server and couple of old boxes as clients to have play with it first. You can have our thinstation image too if it helps.

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    Cheers for the offer, but I've found a pretty nice solution.

    2X ThinClientServer and ThinClientOS are what I'm playing with at the moment. ThinClientServer comes with it's own DHCP server but I can't set bindings, so I'm using MS's one and providing the IP and image name. It's all working perfectly except at the moment the image won't load up within VMWare. Loads so far but then freezes.

    Definitely making progress, too. Plus I think you can configure printers from within the software.

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