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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Virtualization. Yes? No? in Technical; Who amongst us is using virtualization to deliver complete, centrally managed desktops to the user via something like VMWare View? ...
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    Number6's Avatar
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    Virtualization. Yes? No?

    Who amongst us is using virtualization to deliver complete, centrally managed desktops to the user via something like VMWare View? Anyone?

    It seems as though it should be a good idea but I can't quite put my finger on why. If anyone is using it would they say why they took the decision, how easy or otherwise it was to implement, any downsides?

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    I keep looking at it but something just seems wrong with the solution to me. Deep inside I know I should like it but...

    Here's a few thoughts;
    • Is the View/ICA/RDP protocol fast enough for multimedia?
    • Do I need 1xblade = 1xdesktop pc or do I run multiple VM's on a blade - what does that do to performance?
    • Then there's the cost of the back end infrastructure, blades and sans - I don't think a few rackmount servers will cut the mustard.
    • Finally theres the cost of implentation. As in I doubt it's cost effective to do one room, 30 machines, at a time. More like changing 120 machine to VDI at one.


    Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully others will have examples that'll sell it to us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Number6 View Post
    It seems as though it should be a good idea but I can't quite put my finger on why.
    Indeed. I think I get the basic idea: set up an environment once, on a central server, and it works exactly the same for multiple workstations, no matter what the physical hardware in that station is like. I'm not quite sure how that differs from a thin client setup, though. Does a desktop virtulisation solution run a VM on each desktop, so you're basically using virtualisation to make all your desktops look like the same hardware so they are easier to image? How do you deliver that image to the desktops - do you have to load a huge great OS image each time the machine reboots (and with applications an OS image would be tens of gigabytes)? Or does the VM part of things run on a server, with each workstation connecting via RDP or similar? If so, how is that better than a standard terminal services setup, other than that it has "virtualisation" in the title?

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    Im a big fan of Virtual Working, here a few docs i've found to give you a better understanding.

    http://www.2x.com/virtualdesktop/des...ualisation.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_virtualization

    Its alot like RDP the client OS runs on the server, if you need any more power for the client you can run a thin client that has a more pwerfull CPU to take some heat of the server.

    Typically you can have anything from 10 - 100 machines per Virtual Host / Server / Blade.
    Last edited by ZeroHour; 7th June 2010 at 11:12 AM.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danrhodes View Post
    here a few docs i've found to give you a better understanding.
    Nope, sorry, I still don't get it - workstation virtualisation still looks like thin client without being able to share memory space between application instances on server-side (i.e. 10 users all running MS Word, you just need to load one copy of MS Word in to RAM on the server and let multiple threads run it).

    if you need any more power for the client you can run a thin client that has a more pwerfull CPU to take some heat of the server.
    Is the workstation's CPU going to need to support Intel VT / AMD-V, thus ruling out using older/cheaper CPUs?

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    The key difference to me is that the client is exactly like a normal client. Using a client OS. There are a great number of software packages that refuse to run in terminal server environments (Looking at you Adobe).

    The ability to seperate environments is quite a useful one from one point of view, but a pain from another (sharing resources as you mention dhicks).

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    The real problem for me is performance. I just can't see how server side processing could match that of client side processing. I think, as dhicks is undoubtably aware, there are better solutions for an ICT suite.

    I think it may work in other areas of the school, but to be honest in those areas I'm already looking at a traditional thin client architecture.

    I want to like VDI - I just don't 'get it'.

    EDIT: I think application virtualisation - Thinstall, vApp, etc - has much more milage.

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    I think it depends on what the clients need to do, i looked into it at my last place but the initial outlay was going to be very expensive for a beefy enough server/then the fibre card to connect to the san was going to be 4k for a minimum (dual quad core server with 16gb ram mimimum) for 30 clients plus the cost of say VMware view and then the thin clients for a classroom enviroment of 30 machines i would say it costs to much, but it does depend on what applications are going to be used.

    Toby

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    We're deploying Linux thin clients throughout the district at the moment. Rollover project is 2 years long or so for about 20 schools. 3 Secondary schools, 3 Middle schools, and the rest are Elementary. The elementary schools are nearly complete. I'm the network administrator for one of the secondary schools though, each one of the 3 secondary schools have dedicated Network Admins. We're not so sure how the Linux conversion is going to effect us though... Elementary and Middle is easy but we at the secondary schools have so much custom software and builds and everything is streamlined and running nicely. The elementary and middle schools though don't have someone dedicated there, so I can see how Linux thin clients would be the way to go.

    The distro the district has chosen is Edubuntu with one server [Xen Server] per school and 200 or so dummy boxes per school. So far, things are working well. But it's easy for the elementary and middle schools, they need simple applications. Where as at least my location and another location both have full site/volume licenses of Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection and drafting software with customized builds depending on where the machine is deployed in the school. It will be hard to virtualise a lot of our stuff. Let's just say I have no plans on running a lab with Premiere Pro CS3 on a thin client configuration with a single server.

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    Yes.

    The IT industry has almost completed a full circle from the days when mainframes were 'king' & all processing was done centrally, data was stored centrally, and clients used 'dumb' workstations. Support was centralised too, with client technical support being telephone based & only limited onsite support being needed.

    Server virtualisation is here to stay; client virtualisation (be it VDI or Something like Citrix) is a rapidly emerging & improving technology. It is true to say there will still be some niche applications that need local processing but these are getting fewer & fewer as time goes on.

    I can easily see a day (sooner than you might imagine) when schools are run from central server farms and most clients are virtual too. Support will be centralised too, with local support reduced to plugging in cables, packing/unpacking boxes, swapping toner & clearing printer wrecks. The traditional network manager role will be split into two, some of it to the server farm, and some to a roaming support team to provide additional support as required to school onsite staff. In a virtualised world I believe there will be little or no need for an onsite network manager in schools.

    The BSF program makes it clear that change is required; the Govt has made it clear that it wants schools to cut down on duplication of resource by federating, the Tories have made it clear they want to cut costs..... BSF ICT funding enables the massive investment in infrastructure costs to support virtualisation, something individual schools could not afford themselves.

    Virtualisation & centralisation may be the only way to deliver the savings. Ironically, all the efforts made by schools in exploring virtualisation is going to make it easier for cost cutting & reducing ICT staffing levels long-term.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    Yes.

    The IT industry has almost completed a full circle from the days when mainframes were 'king' & all processing was done centrally, data was stored centrally, and clients used 'dumb' workstations. Support was centralised too, with client technical support being telephone based & only limited onsite support being needed.

    Server virtualisation is here to stay; client virtualisation (be it VDI or Something like Citrix) is a rapidly emerging & improving technology. It is true to say there will still be some niche applications that need local processing but these are getting fewer & fewer as time goes on.

    I can easily see a day (sooner than you might imagine) when schools are run from central server farms and most clients are virtual too. Support will be centralised too, with local support reduced to plugging in cables, packing/unpacking boxes, swapping toner & clearing printer wrecks. The traditional network manager role will be split into two, some of it to the server farm, and some to a roaming support team to provide additional support as required to school onsite staff. In a virtualised world I believe there will be little or no need for an onsite network manager in schools.

    The BSF program makes it clear that change is required; the Govt has made it clear that it wants schools to cut down on duplication of resource by federating, the Tories have made it clear they want to cut costs..... BSF ICT funding enables the massive investment in infrastructure costs to support virtualisation, something individual schools could not afford themselves.

    Virtualisation & centralisation may be the only way to deliver the savings. Ironically, all the efforts made by schools in exploring virtualisation is going to make it easier for cost cutting & reducing ICT staffing levels long-term.

    A very daunting prospect Broc, we are just heading the Virtual way ourselves and on the Network Manager job side, I believe our existence is reliant on the ability to diversify into different roles within the school and not just sit in the broom cupboard, as we are finding ourselves getting involved in film tech, photography , SEN etc it all lhelps whe nthe axe is swinging and also breaks up the day.

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    If you are worried about thin client power, we have a school near us that has gone virtualised servers and thin clients completely. We asked about the usual in a presentation, video & audio editing or intense apps, and they responded they are a media college and have had no complaints. Sounds promising. They also mentioned they had budgeted 60k for IT but dues to the change over to thin clients only used 30k. I don't have a breakdown on that, whether it was their whole budget, just infrastructure or what but sounds nice.
    I would love to do it. Just trying to work out where to start.

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    That must be one strange media college. Read my postings on this thread:- VMWare Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

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    I can think of two reasons why not, Bandwidth and Resources! Unless you are starting from scratch e.g a new build Academy or BSF you will need make a case for some serious investment in the existing infrastructure or worse case convince SLT that you need to rip the whole lot out and start again!

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    I've done some small Virtualization project for small companies, but for a school needs a lot of planning etc, Virtualization hasnt really won me over 100% tbo.

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