I cant say for virtualised desktops (except for Citrix with pure Thin Clients) but I would say that to do it properly, unless by choosing a Open Source route, it wont be a cheap and quick solution to do it properly, and doing a half a job, would likely prove more hassle than its worth to start with.
Virtualised Servers though I can say is pretty neat, but again, depending on the solution you choose, a initially costly but rewarding experience - 130+ servers over 4 physical hosts using an iSCSI SAN for the storage of everything anyone?
we use sunray 2 thin clients with terminal services as opposed to VDI. We have found this solution to be much better.
We use Fujitsu Dual Quad Core 12GB Ram and run 4 servers of each and it runs fine on Hyper-V.
Server virtualizing is great and the future.
Client virtualizing, not so much. Still a very young technology.
I think that the key benefits come when the following requirements must be met:
* Roaming - users roam about the site during the day using varying network connection speeds and varying client devices but require fast, consistent, access to resources and the ability to resume sessions started earlier
* Security - you don't want your users to be carting about sensitive data on a full-fat client and you also want to restrict the ability to leave sensitive data on the desktop
* Graphic rich applications - these tend to fail on terminal services set up where as virtualised desktops can handle them fine
I think that's the number 1 benefit of Thin Clients and Workstation Virtualisation particularly if it is securely accessible from outside school - all your data is stored in your data centre (errr server room??) and never leaves it. No memory sticks, no usb hard drives, no transferring raw data over http. Everything stays nice and safe and secure in your server room - everyone else just "views" it. You just have to manage access.
Personally I think it's defiantly the way forward and once it becomes more popular costs will slump.
If I had the capital made available I could easily see my school using a majority of zero / thin clients to access a mixture of virtual desktops and terminal servers - with the odd fat client where needed. Initial costs may be high but long term sustainability and support costs should be much cheaper.
Aaah it's all pie in the sky in Wales tho. We only just got electricery!!!!!
We run VMware View and I was going to expand the number of clients we have until the school decided every student will have a notebook. Our hardware is HP but you can pick any vendor really. Currently we have V4 running Windows 7 clients on an 8 core server with 48GB RAM which we can run 50 sessions. However I will caution you that there is a slight "slow" feeling and so I am resolving this by limiting 30 clients per server (playing safe - 40 would be okay too). View V4.5 which supports Windows 7 may also improve this experience. Thin clients have a HUGE MTBF and use little power so after the initial investment the ROI is really seen after several years.
As for multimedia it used to be the HPs RGS protocol was the only option. But PCoIP has matured nicely and runs perfectly on XP (currently there is a 2 sec lag with audio in V4 for 7 but it's classed as experimental). Once V4.5 is out I do not see any multimedia being an issue. Where "thin clients" will get you is 3D. Our students do programming subjects and this covers 3D and there is not really a way to support this, kind of why the notebooks are a better choice. A solution here is keep a computer pool with full desktops for the 3D requirements or specialised USB devices (another weakness of some products).
View is built on ESX and the same way if you have too many virtual servers for the number of cores you will see performance issues like I have if you have too many clients. So plan on the safe side and be realisitc. Typically the same principle is in place where clients are not using much of the CPU concurrently and this is where VMware excels in getting clients to perform well overall.
Be aware I have a decent SAN (required) and supporting infrastructure, if you cut corners it will not be a good experience no matter what product you choose. Also I want to make it clear I chose View as it was the best fit for us at the time. I have used other products such as Citrix in the past and would consider everything on the market for your own best fit.
We are in the process of planing a deployment of a minimum of 50 clients using VMWare ESX server with a Citrix VDI client. Citrix (surprise surprise) are leading the field with their client technology. Lag issues with Video and graphics intensive packages is resolved internally using the latest Citrix client software, lag may be an issue remotely due to internet bandwidth being the limiting factor, most likely at the pupils end. We are implementing a 100Mbit fibre connection in readiness for VDI.
The real benefit is for the pupils as we can now provide remote access not just to the network, but also the desktop and the applications running on it through a web browser from the pupils home. So full access to the schools network and resources becomes 24/7, pupils have access to the applications so there is no excuse for pupils to say that they did not have the software on their home PC! Staff also get full access meaning they can access the full SIMS client from home, removing their need to use SIMS Learning Gateway (SLG).
That must be costing a fortune in licences if you intend to let all your pupils access yoru school software from home!!!!
I wouldnt fancy buying another 1000+ seats for office, etc!
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