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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Thin Clients, where, who? in Technical; we are seriously looking at thin clients at present and looking to replace some of our desktops. new week we ...
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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    Thin Clients, where, who?

    we are seriously looking at thin clients at present and looking to replace some of our desktops. new week we are attending a local school for a nose around at theirs. i just wanted to get a consensus of where you guys and gals have deployed thin clients?

    what i mean by this is;
    • do you use them as teacher stations (interactive whiteboard, sims, pars, lession monitor etc)?
    • do you use them in areas where only dtp is done?
    • do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    • how do they handl video/video editing/ audio editing/dreamweaver (ict use)?
    • would you use one (as your main station)???


    cheers

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    The last place put them in the library and in 1 class room where only basic WP was being done. It was concidered at the time a better solution than more wireless laptops.

    I took out TS here as it was only doing 6 machines in the library and the setup had 'issues'.

    I've got a few thinclient boxes lying around so I may investigate it's use for Admin desktops.

    In the classroom I'm currently looking at nComputing/MutliPoint/SoftXpand as a way of driving down costs. Basically thin clients with more local processor power so can handle CAD and large DTP work.

    For video - I'd pretty much always want individual machines.

    [*]do you use them as teacher stations (interactive whiteboard, sims, pars, lession monitor etc)?
    Not easy to connect to IWB's as the computer is in the server room. AB-Tutor works great though.

    [*]do you use them in areas where only dtp is done?
    Light DTP. Basic office apps only. 32 TC's all running 5 or 6 programs, multipage DTP with hi-res Pictures, streaming flash media, etc will start to take it's toll. Also there's some lag in the RDP protocal that means it's not great for multimedia work.

    [*]do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    You might just have one regular PC's worth of heat there

    [*]how do they handl video/video editing/ audio editing/dreamweaver (ict use)?
    Don't bother - have a look at ncomp/softxpand/etc instead

    [*]would you use one (as your main station)???

    Yeah I would. But my work life revolves around excel spreadsheets and edugeek. Don't exactly need much desktop computing power.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    I love thin clients (as most people are aware)! There's a few simple rules though:

    * Don't use them for graphically intensive stuff (VDI can negate this to a certain extent but bad things tend to happen)
    * Too much Flash on a single TS at ones can cripple them
    * Consider how you are going to load balance - I use XenApp to load balance and provide a more efficient protocol

    We use terminals for all sorts - including Dreamweaver and photo editing using GIMP - and they generally work well. Just don't try to squeeze too many people on to one server.

    Another advantage is that the infrastructure is also available out of hours to allow remote working - teachers love this because they can go home at 3pm and still do an hour's work in the evening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gibbo_ap View Post
    • do you use them as teacher stations (interactive whiteboard, sims, pars, lession monitor etc)?
    • do you use them in areas where only dtp is done?
    • do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    • how do they handl video/video editing/ audio editing/dreamweaver (ict use)?
    • would you use one (as your main station)???
    We use SunRay thin clients, although I'm slowly going off their solution as it's proprietary and I see little benefit over a purely Windows solution.

    We use them in our Cybercafe, Post 16 workroom and various open access areas. They are good for Office, Internet and other light software apps. We do have the Adobe CS4 Suite installed but that can be slow if you use Photoshop and try doing anything like layers.

    We don't use them in classrooms where we teach ICT or Media etc as they would struggle to cope. Video editing probably would not work that well.

    I don't think you could use them to connect any kind of devices like IWBs or anything else. We struggle to get some USB sticks working on them at times.

    They give off very little heat, although this depends on what you use. Converted PCs which use hard drive etc will still give off quite a bit of heat. Most new TCs will have no moving parts and will give off very little heat.

    You need to look at your server infrastructure as well as the clients. There are many estimates of how many clients can be server by a terminal server. I have been told different ratios by different people. We try to work on 25 thin clients per 32 bit server or 35 (or maybe more) by a 64 bit server with more than 4GB of RAM.

    I personally wouldn't use them as my main machine. I probably wouldn't even use the PCs we have in our ICT Suites as my main machine as I like plenty of power on my everyday machine.

    To sum up, they are very good to get a cheap desktop into classrooms but you have to remember the hidden costs; the more you add the more servers you will need. They are great for areas that don't use power hungry apps, like the English department who usually only need to use the Office Suite and the Interent for research.

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    There are several different ways to deliver applications to thin clients, and this makes a big difference to their functionality, particularly with graphics. Note: I work for Wyse , but I'll try and avoid making this a plug.

    The technologies you can look at are:

    - server-based computing
    - virtual desktops
    - web based
    - streaming to zero clients

    All have their place, but the last is the one we find works best in schools. This will handle video-editing dreamweaver etc, and works fine as a teacher station connected to an IWB. Heat-wise you are looking at 7-15 watts vs 70-150 watts for a PC, so they are much, cooler. Also they are silent which will make a big difference if you have 32 of them in a room.

    This video shows a school that deployed these a couple of years ago.
    wsm-wyse-edu

    David

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    You are most welcome to come and see us at the Thomas Deacon Academy, Peterborough. We are nearly 90% Citrix thin client. There are 2200 pupils and the computer / pupil ratio is better than 1 : 2 (note order)

    Drop me a mail if interested.

    mby@thomasdeaconacademy.com

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    [*]do you use them as teacher stations (interactive whiteboard, sims, pars, lesson monitor etc)?
    Currently, we use a fat client teacher station in each room, this station runs the IWB and ABTutor so the teacher can view screens and demo apps.

    [*]do you use them in areas where only dtp is done?
    We don't currently but we might as the farm expands, currently those rooms are fat clients.

    [*]do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    We have two rooms that desperately needed air con with 30 PC's in there, since replacing them with Axel thin clients there's no need (7watt output) and they're silent making for a nice working environment.

    [*]how do they handle video/video editing/ audio editing/dreamweaver (ict use)?
    Audio is fine our languages department use them for their lessons without issue. As ric says flash can be a killer but as long as you plan your farm well you'll be fine.

    [*]would you use one (as your main station)???

    For my job I would then need two stations as I install remove lots of apps. We have a couple of admin staff using them if I was doing their job I certainly would I don't think they can tell the difference.


    We're based in Derbyshire.

    EDIT

    Oh yeah and as Ric says "another advantage is that the infrastructure is also available out of hours to allow remote working - teachers love this because they can go home at 3pm and still do an hour's work in the evening."



    @ mbyrew

    Do you use VDI or zero clients anywhere on your site?
    Last edited by cookie_monster; 5th December 2009 at 10:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidAngwin View Post
    There are several different ways to deliver applications to thin clients, and this makes a big difference to their functionality, particularly with graphics. Note: I work for Wyse , but I'll try and avoid making this a plug.

    The technologies you can look at are:

    - server-based computing
    - virtual desktops
    - web based
    - streaming to zero clients

    All have their place, but the last is the one we find works best in schools. This will handle video-editing dreamweaver etc, and works fine as a teacher station connected to an IWB. Heat-wise you are looking at 7-15 watts vs 70-150 watts for a PC, so they are much, cooler. Also they are silent which will make a big difference if you have 32 of them in a room.

    This video shows a school that deployed these a couple of years ago.
    wsm-wyse-edu

    David


    David would it be possible (no rush) to create a new thread on Zero clients, I don't know allot about them perhaps you could bullet point the main features and concepts.

    We currently run a Citrix farm for thin clients and are interested in ways to manage heavy workloads and the zero client idea sounds good.

    1. Would it use an entirely different infrastructure to our Citrix setup (different servers and thin client type)?

    2. How would a zero client setup compare cost wise to a typical Citrix setup and a typical Windows fat client setup?

  9. Thanks to cookie_monster from:

    stariq (6th December 2009)

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookie_monster View Post
    2. How would a zero client setup compare cost wise to a typical Citrix setup and a typical Windows fat client setup?
    I too would be very interest in this. I think the mecca for systems management and app deployement lays in affordable OS streaming and/or app virtualisation. Having the OS and apps managed server side but all the processing power client side. All figures I've seen for app virtualisation put it way out my price league. Is the cost of OS streaming the same, or does it compare favourably with fat clients and traditional thin clients?

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    Why use Thin Client Technology - Some answers

    The Thomas Deacon Academy was opened in September 2007 as an amalgamation of three schools. The building was conceived and designed around the Curriculum plans but followed the basic similar constraints as a BSF project would today. There is an emphasis on sustainability in the building which goes further than just sustainability of the IT provision, but the way in which IT is delivered shapes elements of the building. For example there is no air conditioning other than the server rooms. This is possible only because of the use of terminals as opposed to normal PC’s.

    The terminals used are Wyse S10 units. (Note, for a new project / build I would recommend that you don’t use these as the Multimedia capabilities are constrained by the graphics processors in the units. Instead go for a WYSE C30LE as it has improved video capabilities Wyse Technology - Wyse C30LE Thin Client Note though that these are Windows CE devices and as such need to be updated /patched whereas the Wyse WNOS system does not.)

    The life of these terminals is 7 years minimum but I would expect them to last beyond 3 normal PC refreshes (based on three year refresh) This itself is a compelling reason to purchase! Add to it the fact that they operate silently. The noise decibel level for a suite of 30PC’s is sufficient for a teacher to have to speak in a raised voice to capture that attention of their students. This is not the case in our classrooms. The loudest piece of IT equipment running is the fan in the projectors and this clearly evident on the many Learning Walks that occur as lesson control is considerably easier. If a teacher asks for hush, it is plainly obvious to see if a student is typing an email or if two students are whispering as it can be heard at the front of the classroom.

    So now we have two reasons to purchase: - Sustainability and Lesson control.

    Another feature that the teachers appreciate is the start up time. Even with ‘brand new’ Windows 7 PC’s straight out of the box boot times from cold can be about 3 minutes – longer when profiles grow. Thin clients are ready to go at 30-40 seconds! Apart from hardware issues (Mice / Keyboards) all terminals boot and run. If it is necessary, a terminal can be swapped with another, booted and the student can be up and running very quickly. Staff like this feature.
    [*]Do we use them as Teacher Terminals? No, not at present. But we are using Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 (now called XenApp) on the terminals. Three years is a long time in terms of IT in general and this is no different in the Thin Client realms. It is now possible to run Virtual Desktops (XenDesktop 4 in Citrix’s case) so each user has effectively got their own PC with which to customise and use as they see fit (still governed by Group Policies and Virus Checking etc) and also the connectivity of peripherals has improved so that with testing it would be possible to use Interactive White Boards, Scanners USB Hubs, Digitisers etc. So the argument for using Thick Clients (Normal PC’s) is reduced.
    [*]Do we use them in areas where only dtp is done? No, for these rooms we still use normal PC’s.
    [*] Do they out put much heat? Absolutely not. The terminals are warm to touch but do not contribute to room heating anywhere near as much as traditional PC’s do. We do not have AirCon.
    [*]How do they handle video/video editing/ audio editing/Dreamweaver? Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop will utilise the power of the terminals graphics CPU to render Flash and video which is why I do not recommend the basic S10 terminals (see above). This is perfectly usable in a classroom environment. An exception to this would be if your Academy / College / School specialised in Multimedia and was creating exceptionally large or difficult to render graphics / video. Editing video with Moviemaker / Photo Story on XenApp via published Desktops is not possible as the underlying OS is not compatible with the program. There are several Web 2.0 sites that allow you to upload and edit video online via a webpage so this is not too restrictive when producing work for normal GCSE type examinations / coursework etc. For areas where Video editing is required I would look to some sort of virtual desktop (XenDesktop) where these become possible as the end user sees WinXP / Win 7 and can therefore access the applications on these OS’s.
    [*] Would you use one (as your main station)? Yes. A large amount of Admin users within the Academy do exactly this.

    There is a further reason to consider a Thin Client solution and that is its manageability. We have 1300 terminal running off 25 servers. To effect a change at any of these terminals I need only make it once and this is replicated across the farm. This improves rollout time of new applications and makes virus protection / recovery a cinch!

    Remote access to the network. Your students will have access to exactly the same set of applications at home as they do within school. Therefore, work set on a Learning Platform can relate to local resources and students will be able to access them.

    I could go on but I won’t. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If in doubt about the appropriateness of thin client technology, bear this in mind. 80-85% of everything that a student produces within a ‘normal’ school is produced on applications that run perfectly well on Thin Client solutions and there is absolutely no reason why it should not be utilised and an awful lot of reasons why it should.


    Martin Byford-Rew
    IT Manager
    Thomas Deacon Academy
    mby@thomasdeaconacademy.com

  12. 2 Thanks to mbyrew:

    gaz350 (5th December 2009), stariq (6th December 2009)

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    Axel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookie_monster
    [*
    do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    We have two rooms that desperately needed air con with 30 PC's in there, since replacing them with Axel thin clients there's no need (7watt output) and they're silent making for a nice working environment.

    Cookie Monster - I don't want to appear picky - but they use 5 watts, OK, so 2w is not so much in real terms, but you can be happy your terminals are burning almost 30% less power than you thought...!

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    cookie_monster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel View Post
    Cookie Monster - I don't want to appear picky - but they use 5 watts, OK, so 2w is not so much in real terms, but you can be happy your terminals are burning almost 30% less power than you thought...!

    My bad, I stand corrected

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    Quote Originally Posted by cookie_monster View Post
    [*]do you use them as teacher stations (interactive whiteboard, sims, pars, lesson monitor etc)?
    Currently, we use a fat client teacher station in each room, this station runs the IWB and ABTutor so the teacher can view screens and demo apps.

    [*]do you use them in areas where only dtp is done?
    We don't currently but we might as the farm expands, currently those rooms are fat clients.

    [*]do they out put much heat (i understand not but if there was a room of 32 of them???)
    We have two rooms that desperately needed air con with 30 PC's in there, since replacing them with Axel thin clients there's no need (7watt output) and they're silent making for a nice working environment.

    [*]how do they handle video/video editing/ audio editing/dreamweaver (ict use)?
    Audio is fine our languages department use them for their lessons without issue. As ric says flash can be a killer but as long as you plan your farm well you'll be fine.

    [*]would you use one (as your main station)???

    For my job I would then need two stations as I install remove lots of apps. We have a couple of admin staff using them if I was doing their job I certainly would I don't think they can tell the difference.


    We're based in Derbyshire.

    EDIT

    Oh yeah and as Ric says "another advantage is that the infrastructure is also available out of hours to allow remote working - teachers love this because they can go home at 3pm and still do an hour's work in the evening."



    @ mbyrew

    Do you use VDI or zero clients anywhere on your site?
    Another one for this please!!

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    stariq's Avatar
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    My last post didnt make any sense!

    Lets try again..

    I would also be intrested in:

    David would it be possible (no rush) to create a new thread on Zero clients, I don't know allot about them perhaps you could bullet point the main features and concepts.

    We currently run a Citrix farm for thin clients and are interested in ways to manage heavy workloads and the zero client idea sounds good.

    1. Would it use an entirely different infrastructure to our Citrix setup (different servers and thin client type)?

    2. How would a zero client setup compare cost wise to a typical Citrix setup and a typical Windows fat client setup?


    Thanks

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    To Gibbo_Ap and Cookie Monster, Terry mentioned SoftXpand up above as an alternative to your thin client proposal, and I wondered if you guys had planned a trial of this or any similar multiseat computing (shared resource computing) solution. If you need help or info, drop me a line and I'll help point you in the right direction - alternatively see us and EduGeek at BETT. We're based in Derbyshire. Cheers, Col

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