Desktop Virtualization Solutions

I have a student computer lab with 50+ desktops that I want to switch over to virtual desktops. Network bandwidth isn't an issue (we'll be running at least 1gb end-to-end). The goals are:
Get rid of the conventional desktop hardware. It's expensive, requires repair and maintenance, as well as imaging systems like Altaris or Ghost and we no longer want to use that method. We also do not want to re-purpose old machines as thin clients. The idea is to remove as much maintenance and up-keep on the client end as possible.
Maintain a single desktop image that can be published for all students to use without the need for student interaction of any type at the client end. In other words, all we want is a monitor, keyboard, and mouse at each lab station connected to a device that boots directly to a login screen for a virtual desktop. The student logs in, group policies for things like Desktop and My Docs redirection apply.
I don't want to maintain dozens of VMs on the backend like I would need to do with XenDesktop.

If you have experience with any solutions that meet that criteria, please let me know. Right now I am looking at XenApp published desktop / apps in conjunction with NComputing devices on the client-side.
Ad-ApexAsked:
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smckeown777Connect With a Mentor Commented:
I'd go with NComputing - have installed these solutions in multiple schools over the last 2 years and they work great...

Basically what you need is a 2008 RDS server as the server - install NComputing on it, then connect your L300's(the network version of the NComputing device range) and it will connect to the server

So it reality its a Terminal Server type setup except you are using the NComputing thin clients for the users...definitely works a treat...
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Have a read of this document, it *COMPARES and CONTRASTS* all the VDI Solutions available!

If budget is important, Citrix is the least expensive, and can be used on Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Citrix XenServer.

http://www.pqr.com/images/stories/Downloads/whitepapers/vdi%20smackdown.pdf

if you do not want to maintain VMs, and usually if using VMware, you would only maintain 1!

then look at a Session based system, e.g. XenApp or RDS

http://www.wtslabs.com/Downloads/TSAtoZ.pdf
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Ad-ApexAuthor Commented:
hanccocka:
Thanks! I'll read both of those today!

smckeown777:
Interesting! Can you talk to me about the back-end of that solution? What are the server specs and for how many users?
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smckeown777Commented:
Yep...

This was the spec we used exactly
Dell R410
Dual Xeon E5620 (2.4GHz)
24GB DDR3 Ram
2 x 250GB HA(Note these were regular SATA drives - 7200rpm)
Server 2008 R2
NComputing V 6.6.2.3

Currently this server runs 32 users(or there are 32 thin clients onsite I mean) and works fine...since you are looking for 50 I'd expect it would still be fine(since I originally spec'd it for 50 users plus)

Only thing I would change on another build would be the drives - SAS I think would make it even better...right now I don't have any real performance numbers for you, but we've never had any complaints from the school in terms of any issues...
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Ad-ApexAuthor Commented:
SMCKEOWN777:
Great, thanks for the specs.
Within the last hour I hooked up a test N500 device to a monitor and keyboard and got it working with a Citrix XenApp trial backend and it's exactly what I'm looking for. We will probably go with the Citrix XenApp because we eventually want to publish desktops to non-windows devices like tablets and such.
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smckeown777Commented:
Cool, haven't used the N500's yet so can't comment...but all in all the NComputing solution is great, never had any real issue with the hardware and so far its been working great on lots of sites...
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