Thin-client vs Zero-client vs Desktop Streaming setup.

JBrownJBrown Posts: 308Member
We are in a process of setting up a computer lab (25 workstations) and looking into "new eco/green" technologies as an option. It's going to be our pilot run, and if it works out well we might be moving entire school (30 site branches and almost 1800 workstations) to new setups in the near future, 2-4 years.
I am looking for info on cost-effectiveness and setup requirements on thin-clients vs zero-clients/desktop streaming. So far I was able to find that each company says "We are better than the other companies, because we use more twisted terminology to describe VDI or PXE boot".

I understand that in order to setup a VDI i will need: SAN, a dumb terminal (zero client), a few servers, 100Mbs is sufficient enough. VMware view, Wyse WSM are the ones to work with?
And for the thin-client(PXE boot?) I need 1 server, 1Gbs and PC with PXE boot support. XenDesktop, Wyse ThinOS ?

Am i correct in my assumptions? Any ideas or suggestions what to look for or some sample/similar setups ?

Comments

  • ClaymooreClaymoore Posts: 1,637Member
    You're likely to get as much opinion as useful facts when you start asking IT folks about VDI. For plenty of both, head over to BrianMadden.com -they had a recent article on a VDI Smackdown whitepaper that compares some of the big VDI products.

    I'll go ahead and give you a couple of my opinions:
    1. Any solution you implement will include a mix of vendors. It could be Microsoft VDI, managed by Quest vWorkspace with a little Citrix XenApp thrown in.
    2. Working on a pilot today will probably only be useful as an academic pursuit. The VDI space is changing so rapidly that 2-4 years could be span 3 product revisions. Licensing costs 4 years from now would be a total guess.
    A pilot may not prove the technology but it may help you understand the business case and the features required. My best advice is to not get wrapped up in what is technically possible, but figure out what is technically necessary.
  • astorrsastorrs Posts: 3,139Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Claymoore wrote: »
    My best advice is to not get wrapped up in what is technically possible, but figure out what is technically necessary.
    Spot on! icon_thumright.gif
  • JBrownJBrown Posts: 308Member
    Well that is the info i am looking for, what is necessary to setup one or another. The lab will be used for MS Office Apps, Media Players, iTunes, internet browsing. That lab is not going to be used for advanced classes, such as; Programming, 3D emulations or any kind of "Operating Systems" topics.
    Its all suppose to run either with each student getting his own ID (AD domain) or logging in with a kiosk mode/ locked down desktop and generic account. Ideally i would prefer something like Windows MultiPoint Server 2010 Home Page on the remote site.

    Claymoore

    Thanks for the link.
  • ClaymooreClaymoore Posts: 1,637Member
    JBrown wrote: »
    Well that is the info i am looking for, what is necessary to setup one or another. The lab will be used for MS Office Apps, Media Players, iTunes, internet browsing. That lab is not going to be used for advanced classes, such as; Programming, 3D emulations or any kind of "Operating Systems" topics.

    The 'necessary' to which I was referring was the business need for virtualization, not the system requirements. What you are describing here would work perfectly fine in Terminal Services (I will use TS as a vendor neutral name rather than Remote Desktop Services or Citrix XenApp). You might need some application virutalization to handle a few apps that won't play well with others, but a TS solution would still be easier and cheaper than a VDI solution. This is the nature of Madden's Paradox.


    But that's still not taking all of the factors into account:
    1. Do your students bring their own PCs?
    2. Are you looking at a major hardware refresh in the next few years? In my experience, VDI is not a cost-saving solution due to the licensing overhead. Maybe you can buy thin-client hardware for $300 less than a desktop PC and that offsets some of the VDI licensing cost.
    3. Are you considering supporting multiple user endpoint devices? Check out Citrix Receiver's ability to run PC applications on an iPad.
    4. Do you have any applications that will not run (or are not supported) in a TS environment?
    5. Do your users require high levels of workspace customization that are not possible in a TS environment?
    I encourage you to set up a test lab and try out some of the technologies to get a feel for how they will meet your needs. You can set up a test iSCSI SAN using something like StarWind's iSCSI target software. Contact the vendors of the VDI/TS software and ask about demonstrations or vendor-funded proof of concept engagements where an engineer will build the solution on-site for testing. Throughout all the testing and vendor smoke, you must remember what your business needs are and how whatever you are testing will help you meet them.
  • inthecloudinthecloud Posts: 1Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    JBown - The information Claymoore gave you is excellent to form a real use case and validate the need for VDI. I wanted to clarify some of your assumptions.

    You said:
    "I understand that in order to setup a VDI i will need: SAN, a dumb terminal (zero client), a few servers, 100Mbs is sufficient enough. VMware view, Wyse WSM are the ones to work with?
    And for the thin-client(PXE boot?) I need 1 server, 1Gbs and PC with PXE boot support. XenDesktop, Wyse ThinOS ?"

    This is not completely accurate. VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is NOT a VMWare acronym but was brought public by them. VDI simply means to have your 'desktops' in a virtual environment and access them from some client. That client can be a Zero Client / Thin Client / Fat Client / Web Client, etc. The thoughts behind VDI are to provide the same, if not better, user experience to your users while reducing management costs for those desktops. the connection between the client and the virtual desktkop is typically handled by a connection broker. The broker, brokers the session between the client adn desktop. The most popular brokers out there are VMWare VIEW, Citrix XenDesktop, Leostream and Quest. There are many more but none are as mainstream as these guys.

    You mentioned Wyse ThinOS. I've been using Wyse ThinOS (WTOS) for almost three (3) years and couldn't be happier. Incredibly quick boot, incredibly rich experience, incredibly flexible. This firmware has made my life easier and better. I've also just tested the latest BETA from Wyse and it's even quicker and richer!

    Streaming is completely different animal. Wyse has a software called WSM (Wyse Streaming Manager) and Citrix has one called PVS (Provisioning Server). Both products were built off the same core app but have been developed independently for years. From what I've seen of both products, Wyse seems to develop there's a bit quicker adn better than Citrix.

    The idea of streaming is where you would have a device, (streaming client / zero client / fat client) do a PXE boot and then have a full Windows OS streamed down to the memory of that machine. The client would not need a hard drive but rather be using a virtual hard drive of the streaming server. The reasoning for doign this is two-fold:
    1) The presentation layer protocol (ICA, RDP, PCoIP) is not rich enough to provide the user experience that is needed for the applications (ie bi-directional audio, VoIP, CAD)
    2) The bandwidth needed for the number of users is not available. Meaning, 30 users using 100k of bandwidth for their ICA / RDP session = a 3MB pipe.

    I hope this clarification helps and feel free to ask more questions.
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