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New desktops or thin clients

Posted on 2010-11-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10

It is time to upgrade a part of our desktops (30) in a network with multiple servers and was wondering if I should just buy new desktop computers or look into thin clients.

Just wondering what would be the pros and cons of thin clients. Looked online but I'm not very pleased with the quality of info...

Any help would be appreciated.
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Question by:foresthome
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by:athomsfere
ID: 34167546
Thin clients are a great long term solution. Not one I would consider if you have not already done some preliminary testing / setup.

ESXi would be the best route, IMO.
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by:DrUltima
ID: 34167559
How do your users use their computers?  The Thick vs Thin client question is not a simple "what do you think" type scenario.  There are a large number of variables.  For example, your cost per machine is lower, but you have to have more powerful servers to handle the load.  Additionally, your users may use their computers in such a way that thin clients don't support the action or process.  Without knowing your business needs, business uses, the exceptions made, etc., it is very hard to give good advice on a question like that.

Justin
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Thethical earned 125 total points
ID: 34169056
the advantages of thin clients are that they do not require maintenance, hard to corrupt and if so easy to get them up and running again,  and last longer (no hard drive and hardware that requires a lot of power) but then you'll need a terminal server to use them. The thin client OS let's you only do few things like use the web, many of them come already with antiviruses so quite straight forward. The disadvantages are that if the terminal server is down you'll loose business productivity as the thin clients don't have a full OS where you can still work locally.
Nowadays a lot of businesses are investing in thin clients and use a terminal server, you'll just need a backup of the terminal server and do not need to waist time maintaining the workstations and software licensing
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by:zcrammond
zcrammond earned 125 total points
ID: 34200481
the savings of the dumb terminals is off set by the cost of the terminal/citrix servers you will need. I will assume that since you are posting this in the citrix forums you will already have a citrix infrastructure in place, I will also assume that you have load balancing citrix servers which could take the full user load if one of the servers goes pop!

I have worked with many medium to large companies who have migrated to the thin clients, or as they are otherwise know as the dumb terminals, mainly because of their ease of use;

they can be centrally managed using PXE boot you can see each terminal on your domain, restart them, power them on and image them or take an image from them, you can also shadow them like a citrix session (which is awesome)

They are dumb; if the flag is set a reboot will wipe any changes made to the terminal; you create the golden image that you want on the terminals, set a flag and thats it, that golden image is what it will revert to each time its rebooted, allowing you to relax a little

They are primarily used as a gateway into your citrix environment, as such nothing is stored on them and therefore they dont need to be added to your actual domain (you could create a sub domain for them or leave them off the domain altogether (the central software will still broadcast on IP ranges allowing you to still discover them)

If something goes wrong with one, dont worry! from your IT managers chair using the software you can pick it out of the list and send over the golden image again, which will wipe it, reset it and distribute your image to it all within 15 minutes and all without you needing to even see the device!

A very cool feature for me personally is the size of the things, HP do a nifty little device which bolts onto the back of your monitor, which means its totally out of the way and allows those pesky desk moves to occur so much easier and it also saves a ton of deskspace (or footspace!)

When the original WYSE devices came out (the 9XXX series) the instant disadvantage was the ramdisk size of the devices (they started with just 128mb space) which was crushing for our needs, however todays variations from iGel, WYSE, HP etc all come with varying sizes available.

so thats it, I cant really thing of any disadvantages if you already have the citrix infrastructure in place to deal with the user load, it makes sense to start replacing those old PC's with the newer generation thin terminals, however if your starting out in the citrix world, I would probably still try to push these babies into the budget!

personal preference: iGel devices (IMHO the easiest to setup and get going compared to WYSE and HP)
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by:zcrammond
ID: 34200500
I just realised that in fact this wasnt posted in the citrix area (curse my filters!) so I apologise for my assumptions at the beginning of my previous post, however the rest still stands!
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by:DrUltima
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It is in the Citrix Zone.
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by:zcrammond
ID: 34200794
off topic:

wierd, im seeing it in here: Home\Hardware\Desktops\New desktops or thin clients

think i should go to bed!!
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by:DrUltima
ID: 34201041
zcrammond,

Desktops is the Primary Zone for the choices of Zones selected:

Capture of Question Zones
You can see from the image above the Zones to which this Question is assigned.

DrUltima
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by:zcrammond
ID: 34205462
cheers DrUltima, I deffo needed that sleep!!
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by:DrUltima
ID: 34205775
Happens to all of us... To get back on topic....

I have seen a lot of praise for thin clients and very little for full PCs.  Because this is also Citrix, I think it important to point out a few little things.

First, if the users are used to working with normal PCs (thick clients), the transition might be painful.  By that, you might get a lot of "where did my custom app widget doomaflitchy go?" type of questions.  Chances are with only 30 machines in the enterprise, more than one has admin rights to their own machines and therefore has installed non-sanctioned software (iTunes, Chrome, etc.) or hardware (scanner, personal printer, dual monitor, etc.).  You need to make sure that you have a good inventory of your current setup before you go to thin clients.  You may not be able to duplicate it.

Second, because all apps run on the server, your may have issues with apps which do not run on Server 2003 or might but are not supported in a Citrix environment.  You need to make sure that your business needed apps run in a TS or Citrix environment.

Third, you really won't see a cost savings.  Low end PCs are cheap, almost as cheap as dumb terminals.  Add in the cost of a server capable of hosting Citrix (and you REALLY need two, because if your server is down, your entire business halts in a pure terminal environment) as well as Citrix licenses, it might actually be MORE expensive to go the dumb terminal route for such a small deployment.  Remember that Citrix is tiered licensing, so the more you buy, the cheaper each individual license is.  With only 30, that is the most expensive tier.

Third, and this is a big one: how important is your customer perception.  In this case, the company you work for is your (the IT dept's) customer.  Will being in a thin environment be good for your relationship with the rest of the company or will it cause more harm than benefits you reap.

I wrote this article about managing security in AD, but it focuses heavily on philosophies of customer perception and experience.  I would suggest reading it.  Remember that this is a business decision which requires buy off at all levels of management and not just an IT decision.

I am not indicating that I would necessarily push for a thin or thick environment, I just think that both sides of the coin need to be explored before a decision is made.

Cheers,

Justin
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