Best way to connect a remote office -- Frame, ATM, DSL-VPN ---Citrix, PC's????

I've been asked to help set-up (in my spare time...yeah right!) a growing small business that is adding a remote office. At the present time most of what they do is on shared Excel spreadsheets (turning more into applications every day, and I'm not real fond of shared spreadsheets). I'm trying to nudge them towards developing a database. So with this in mind the remote office will have ~12 PC's and will need access to the corporate database, Exchange server, and probably a few other shared files, maybe an intranet page in the future, which will probably lead to some web apps. I need a secure and reliable connection. The office I work in has a T-1 Frame Relay with a CIR of 1024Mbps and cost ~$2000/month. A hard sell when users have 8Mbps cable modems. I'm able to connect to our office from home over my cable modem and VPN, but the VPN can be connected for days at a time, or disconnect every 5 minutes, which wouldn't be acceptable. The local cable company sells "business class" broadband (probably the same thing just more expensive) but wondered if anyone had experience with that type of cable or DSL service and a VPN connection. I'm not a database person but wonder if there is a solution that would allow a local copy of the database that replicates changes with the main dataset?
Another problem would be connecting to the corporate Exchange server. Seems Outlook likes to hog bandwidth and a server at the remote office isn't really an option for 12 people.
I'm leaning toward a Citrix option and 256k frame. The bosses want to tightly integrate the offices and be lean and fast. Seems Citrix offers a lot less admin work, less chance of virus/spyware/adware, and no PC's to fix!
What advantages does Citrix offer over Windows Terminal Serices for an office of 12 or so? And I've seen Citrix desktop, published apps, inFuse...what would be the best option there?
Would you recommend a dedicated thin-client box over running the Citrix client on a PC? I've seen boxes for $500 that would seem to offer all a PC does, USB, sound, etc. No CD-ROM or floppy, which is great. I thought maybe one PC for the manager (play CD/DVD if needed for training, presentations, etc., store files related to just that office that could be remotely backed up at night).
Any thoughts, ideas, things I'm missing?? What are your experiences? Mine are that users don't like Citrix terminals, but then you get them a PC and they don't like the CRT, etc, etc.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

In my opiniion citrix over a frame is the way to go.  This will allow you to have real-time access to all of your apps,  including exchange, docs, and any new databases from anywhere not just the new remote office.  I would go with 512k instead of 256k for 12 users but it is easy for me to spend other peoples money

The most effecient way to connect the office maybe a channelized T1.  Use up to 12 channels for voice and then the other 12 channels could be used for data or you can split this up in any way you need.  

Try and stay away from broadband if possible.  Broadband even though it has a lot of bandwidth it drops a lot of packets which citrix doesn't like.  You are much better off with lower but very clean bandwidth.  Business class broadband is just more expensive broadband.  It still doesn't offer the service level that a frame or T1 can offer.

For remote offices terminals are nice because you do have a lot less maintenance and the network is much more secure but if the connection goes down they will be looking at a blank screen.

If you go with thin clients you may want to have 2 or 3 pc's for people to use as backup.

Published apps are more secure than a full desktop but if you have the permissions set properly on the server one can be as secure as the other.  Published apps are better for pc's since they already have a desktop.  Published apps in my opinion are hard to switch back and forth on a thin client.  When I use thin clients I normally give the customer a full desktop but just lock it down with group policy.  

Terminal services uses more bandwidth than citrix although with 2003 server it isn't as bad.  Citrix with 12 users is a must over terminal services.  Managing apps, printers and users will be much easier with citrix.  You will be glad you spent the extra money on the citrix.  

Hopefully this has helped with most of your questions...


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by ConnectWise

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.