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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Virtual Servers & Desktop replacement curve-ball in Technical; Gents, Looking like I am going to get a local firm to "virtualize" my 7 servers in the summer. Just ...
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    kennysarmy's Avatar
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    Virtual Servers & Desktop replacement curve-ball

    Gents,

    Looking like I am going to get a local firm to "virtualize" my 7 servers in the summer. Just had the "plate-spin" analysis done and am awaiting a quote. Will be a Vsphere citrix solution.

    My budget was presented at a recent governors meeting and practically approved, however, someone stated..."....lots of schools are now using thin clients, has this been investigated....."

    I don't believe "LOTS" of schools are using thin client technology currently but correct me if I am wrong.

    We have 700 desktops with 5 year warranty and we swap out annually 20% of these at a cost of around 450 per client.

    Adobe CS3 is site licenced around the school and IS used in most areas regularly.
    DT use 3d modelling packages and Music sibelius & Cubase (dongles).
    Apart from that is the usual suspects around the suites.

    Now my questions....

    (I know very little about the thin client side of things...)

    1. Is going down the vsphere route going to make a thin client deployment in the future eaier or harder?

    2. What sort of investment is required to start a change from thick to thin clients?

    3. Can a dual setup really work if you want the flexibility to be able to roll out any software to any desktop?

    Many thanks for taking the time to read or answer...hopefully others might also gain something from the thread......

    Cheers. Jeff

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    apaton's Avatar
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    1. Is going down the vsphere route going to make a thin client deployment in the future eaier or harder?
    I think easier, as VMware gives you options, you could go VDI (View) or still stick with Windows TS/Citrix.

    2. What sort of investment is required to start a change from thick to thin clients?
    Note easy to say
    Need to think about, Thin Clients, Monitors, Application Delivery (VDI/TS/Citrix), network and servers.
    Thin client will not cover every user, but I would aim to get 80%+, long term.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kennysarmy View Post
    Now my questions....

    (I know very little about the thin client side of things...)

    1. Is going down the vsphere route going to make a thin client deployment in the future eaier or harder?

    2. What sort of investment is required to start a change from thick to thin clients?

    3. Can a dual setup really work if you want the flexibility to be able to roll out any software to any desktop?
    1. I think you should view the virtualisation of the desktop as a seperate project to the virtualisation of the server room. You would not use the new virtual hosts in your server farm to host desktop virtualisation, you would need new kit. Although not a lot of schools use 100% thin client, a lot of schools do use some and just as meny are starting to research it as a cost saving mesure.

    2. Depends on the technology you choose to virtualise the desktop. You generally have three options with their own pros and cons.
    • a) Virtual Desktop Infrastructure - The half way house between fat clients and thin clients. Eash desktop runs in it's own virtual machine. You'd usually be looking at a farm of blade servers to run the VDI's on. I think all VM venders - VMWare, Citrix and MS have solution or third party presentation services to make this work.
    • b) Citrix/Terminal Services - The traditonal approach. 1 server hosts 30/60/100 desktops depending on spec/performance requirements. Probably the cheapest solution. Good for low use areas, basic office/internet use. Can fall down with multimedia use like video streaming, useless for cad/music/etc.
    • c) Multiseat Computing - nComputing/SoftXpand/BeTwin/Multipoint. My favourite tech of the moment. Sharing 1 fat client between 4/5/6 desktops in the clase room. Cheaper than buying the equivilent number of fat clients, totaly compatable with your existing AD infrastructure and software deployment. Fastest of the bunch, as in I'm currently testing Solidworks to run on a Quad-Core 8Gb machine in a 5 users to 1 computer ratio.


    3. Depends on how you provision software at the moment. But mostly yes. All three options can install software via msi/gpo. a) and c) can work with ghost/fog/wds images. If you have the budget application virtualisation/streaming (VMWare ThinApp, MS App-V) can really simplify how you provision apps and change the way you look at thin/fat clients.
    Just remember there are a number of apps that don't sit well in any of the virtualised environments. Things like 3D CAD work, Movie Editing and Music Composition. For these areas either traditional fat clients is the way to go or careful research and planning in to the Multiseat solutions.

    EDIT:
    We have 700 desktops with 5 year warranty and we swap out annually 20% of these at a cost of around 450 per client.
    Just thought I'd pick up on this. The reason I'm really really interested in Multiseat computing. Speed wise for Multimedia/CAD work (but not serious video editing or any music composition) it's indestiguishable from traditional fat clients if you spec right. In fact it is traditional fat clients with some cost savings. I'm still working on the exact costs and will be a couple months before I have the final answers. Absolute worst case scenario on a 4 users to 1 desktop ratio gives 410 per seat.
    I confident that a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio would work very smoothly and I'm equally confident come March I'd be reporting under 300 per seat. If you're replacing 70 machines with a 150 saving per machine that's a 10,500 saving! Worth looking into, no?
    Last edited by tmcd35; 23rd January 2010 at 03:42 AM.

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    Alis_Klar (3rd February 2010)

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    Hi Tmcd35,

    I was curious about a couple of interesting points you raise above...

    The "nComputing/SoftXpand/BeTwin/Multipoint" type products - am I right in assuming they do not connect over Ethernet (hence the 'cluster' due to max distance of VGA (?) cables to attach the thin client to the PC...)

    I guess it is a bit of a dilemma, TCP/IP and RDP are partly the cause of the issues of multi-media on thin clients - but move away from them you also moving away from the tried and trusted standards...

    ...and I guess, not being Ethernet based, each user does not have a unique IP/MAC address - can this cause complications running some apps regarding licencing (and remote shadowing)...?

    Does each user get to see their own memory stick - or are everyones memory sticks seen as a shared resource from the host PC by everyone.

    It seems odd none of the established thin client manufacturers have picked up on this technology...

    How would you manage fault tolerance - with a traditional terminal server, UPS, RAID, virtual server technology and being locked away in a separate (airconditioned?) room make servers pretty robust and manageable - depending on a bunch of PCs in the classroom seems to concentrate the risk in the classroom even compared to fat PCs..? (and possibly issues to secure/update/virus protect - all tradition reasons to adopt thin clients...)

    Interested to hear you views, I am not trying to pick holes in the technology - just trying to get my head around why this could be better than RDP/ICA thin clients, and you seem to have done some research on this....

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nut-ed View Post
    The "nComputing/SoftXpand/BeTwin/Multipoint" type products - am I right in assuming they do not connect over Ethernet (hence the 'cluster' due to max distance of VGA (?) cables to attach the thin client to the PC...)
    The answer depends on the system you use. SoftXpand and BeTwin use multiple video cards. So you are limited by the length of a VGA cable (+booster?).

    nComputing uses either their oen proprietory interface using RJ45 cables or USB KVM boxes. nComputing's X-Series can also run over the standard network.

    Multipoint is new and am hoping to test real soon. As far as can tell you either use usb KVM similar to the nComputing solution, infact i believe nComputing can supply them for this. Or you might be able to use multiple VGA cards as per SoftXpand/BeTwin.

    I guess it is a bit of a dilemma, TCP/IP and RDP are partly the cause of the issues of multi-media on thin clients - but move away from them you also moving away from the tried and trusted standards...
    It's a question of how much raw computing power you need and where that computing power sits. Even using VDI in the server room, if you need a 1:1 ratio of hardware:user then you'll get no cost savings. Infact it'd be more expensive and probably slower because of RDP/View/etc.

    ...and I guess, not being Ethernet based, each user does not have a unique IP/MAC address - can this cause complications running some apps regarding licencing (and remote shadowing)...?
    As far as I can tell all systems appear as Terminal Service RDP sessions to any monitoring software - AbTutor, ITalc, NetOP, etc. Although I've only tested with AbTutor and with some mixed success on nComputing. AbTutor works fine on SoftXpand.

    Does each user get to see their own memory stick - or are everyones memory sticks seen as a shared resource from the host PC by everyone.
    Either/Or. You choose in the management interface. One of the reasons for doing this in the Library. USB pen sticks can be a pain to set up on Terminal Servers.

    It seems odd none of the established thin client manufacturers have picked up on this technology...
    Both Wyse and HP are likely to be supporting Multipoint a long side nComputing.

    How would you manage fault tolerance - with a traditional terminal server, UPS, RAID, virtual server technology and being locked away in a separate (airconditioned?) room make servers pretty robust and manageable - depending on a bunch of PCs in the classroom seems to concentrate the risk in the classroom even compared to fat PCs..? (and possibly issues to secure/update/virus protect - all tradition reasons to adopt thin clients...)
    Treat them as standard fat clients. Will probably keep one spare workstation for instant swap out in case of failure. Obvious down side. If 1 computer dies then 4/5/6 users are affected rather than just 1. But the same can be said for a Terminal Server but more like 30/60 users.

    Interested to hear you views, I am not trying to pick holes in the technology - just trying to get my head around why this could be better than RDP/ICA thin clients, and you seem to have done some research on this....
    Hey not at all. Please I'm interested in everyones view on this. I see multiseating as a real possibility at reducing hardware costs for schools. I know some local schools that have gone a lot further than I have. I'm still at the testing and research phase myself.
    I think it's a more workable solution than traditional Terminal Servers/Citrix Farms and I'm yet to be convinced by the implimentation costs and speed of VDI.

  7. Thanks to tmcd35 from:

    nut-ed (25th January 2010)

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    kennysarmy's Avatar
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    Many thanks for the replies

    I favour waiting for the technology to mature such that the end user does nt see any difference to what we provide now....

    By that I mean....thin client technology that can handle ALL our current apps and hardware...

    Wait...watch...jump....

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