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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Looking for change in Technical; Hi all, we're looking for some advice on the configuration of our network for the future... Presently we have a ...
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    OllieC's Avatar
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    Looking for change

    Hi all, we're looking for some advice on the configuration of our network for the future...

    Presently we have a mix of thin clients and fat clients, there are around 260 t5720 thin clients and a mix of DC7800/7900, and older desktop machines (2.8ghz P4 and Sempron 3200+) machines and a range of HP Compaq laptops (purchased in the last two years). Our network infrastructure is run on HP ZL switches linked by fibre.

    We've been using this mixed thin/fat client environment for near three years now using ****** application deployment. We have been having some issues with this for some time and are looking at alternative solutions that could be used.

    We have a setup of 8 DL360 G5s as our terminal servers and the other usual servers that would be expected (two domain controllers and two web connect servers for ******).

    Perhaps less important atm the moment, we have a growing number of Macs, some dualbooting with XP and OS X and some using only OS X. We have an x serve for these.

    We have been looking at setting users up with roaming profiles, for use on both fat clients and thin clients. Our thin clients are running XP embedded and using the ****** webconnect client to deliver the icons for the applications.

    An idea we've had is to use VDI for the thin clients, enabling us to use roaming profiles and to make necessary modifications to our fat clients (removing the ****** clients and using local software/GPO on them).

    VMware VDI has been recommended to us and we would like to know the best way to go about planning and setting such a system up. Anyone who has experience with a mixed thin/fat client system, particularly with using VDI solutions we'd be very interested to hear details please.

    If you're using a comparable system then we'd like to know what solution you're using, what the cost/time implications were of implementing it, what skills are required for the day to day running of it, good/bad points overall and what exactly was required for setting up.

    We have heard of setups like this using Linux but feel that the skills that would be required to maintain the backed of such a system are not present here... meaning this is a solution that we are unable to consider at the present time.

    We'd be especially interested in seeing a system like this or similar running first. We are in Birmingham and willing to travel to see a working system.
    Even if your system differs, we are really interested in any thin/fat client setup and the advice that you running it can give us.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
    Arthur Terry IT team :P
    Last edited by Dos_Box; 6th July 2009 at 11:43 AM. Reason: Removed manufacturers name

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    My understanding of VDI is that you need 1 Windows XP/Vista/7 virtual machine per ThinClient. Also, for performance your ThinClients boxes need to support the VDI protocol rather than just RDP.

    Server whys if you have 30 ThinClients then the servers have to be able to cope with running 30 Virtual Machines. Plus you'll need the XP/Vista/7 Windows licenses to boot. Also not sure on it's performance with graphics intensive tasks.

    I've been looking in to this on/off for some time but I can't get the costs/benefits to marry up compared to standard fat clients. At the moment I'm investigating SoftXpand as an alternative, but long term would also like to go down this route (unless BSF swallows us up first!).

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    Is there an easy way to get a thin client to boot to a vdi??

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    You could use RDP, but you lose some performance AFAIK

    or there is a more 'geeky' way...

    vmware-view-open-client - Google Code

    You may be able to incorporate this into a Thinstation image and over right the T5720's SDD with that. I have some T5720's here with a Thinstation image in place of XPe.

    :: Thinstation - a light, full-featured Linux thin client OS ::

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    @OllieC: We may be able to help more if we knew what specific problems you are experiencing.

    I run a similar network to yours. I have a similar number of thin clients (although they are a mix of HP t5125, HP t5135, HP t5700, HP t5730 and Sun Ray 2), a number of fat clients and (including about 100 laptops) and 20-odd Macs. The only difference is that I use Citrix XenApp to manage my terminal servers.

    IMHO, VDI isn't really the most cost effective solution for schools at the moment. If I were to go down the VDI route though I would look at Citrix XenDesktop and Sun VDI.

    @fil_b: Look at the thread about VDI on t5720 terminals for the answeer to your question (remember though that any of the VDI products can be used on your terminals)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    @OllieC: We may be able to help more if we knew what specific problems you are experiencing.

    I run a similar network to yours. I have a similar number of thin clients (although they are a mix of HP t5125, HP t5135, HP t5700, HP t5730 and Sun Ray 2), a number of fat clients and (including about 100 laptops) and 20-odd Macs. The only difference is that I use Citrix XenApp to manage my terminal servers.

    IMHO, VDI isn't really the most cost effective solution for schools at the moment. If I were to go down the VDI route though I would look at Citrix XenDesktop and Sun VDI.

    @fil_b: Look at the thread about VDI on t5720 terminals for the answeer to your question (remember though that any of the VDI products can be used on your terminals)

    Hi Ric

    Thanks for the help with the thin client info

    The reason we are looking at VDI for the thin client is cause we want to use roaming profiles over the network.

    using a roaming profile on fat clients is ok, but the only solution for the thin clients is the VDI

    we have vmware in school as we have virtualised some servers but not used the VDI to a client

    Any ideas to help or other solutions to better VDI??

    Thanks

    Fil
    Last edited by fil_b; 7th July 2009 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Removed manufacturers name

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    Butuz's Avatar
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    Using roaming profiles here on 100 thin clients with 1000+ users and it works fine.

    Why are you under the impression roaming profiles "won't work" with thin clients? it works in exactly the same way as on normal XP fat clients.

    Butuz

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    Why the desire for roaming profiles?!? I'm missing something here as thats the last thing I would want the students to have.. especially on the thin clients!

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    linescanner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fil_b View Post
    Hi Ric

    Thanks for the help with the thin client info

    The reason we are looking at VDI for the thin client is cause we want to use roaming profiles over the network.

    using a roaming profile on fat clients is ok, but the only solution for the thin clients is the VDI

    we have vmware in school as we have virtualised some servers but not used the VDI to a client

    Any ideas to help or other solutions to better VDI??

    Thanks

    Fil
    Roaming Profiles work fine on Terminal Servers. Most of our schools use them. We split them from the Fat XP profiles and make the TS as close to looking like fats as can be done.

    VDI to Sun Ray rocks, but is a chunk more expensive than TS

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    @OllieC - are you by any chance publishing apps from your TS server to the Thin Clients XPe desktop rather than using a RDP connection to a desktop hosted on the TS server?

    If this is the case it may explain why Roaming profiles are not working?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    @OllieC - are you by any chance publishing apps from your TS server to the Thin Clients XPe desktop rather than using a RDP connection to a desktop hosted on the TS server?

    If this is the case it may explain why Roaming profiles are not working?
    no we going to have the VDi with just basic office on each one

    just makes things easy for the user

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