The last couple of meetings I had with customers this was a very hot topic, people are rethinking their client strategy with BYOD and CYO as alternatives to their traditional desktop strategy. I noticed that there still is a demand for a client strategy when using SBC/VDI but there are a lot of choices to be made when looking at enterprise clients:
|Thin Clients||Fat Clients|
|Zero Clients||Linux Clients|
|Linux Clients||Windows Clients|
|Windows Clients||Domain Joined|
|Domain Joined||Non-Domain joined|
And this is just the start, Andrew Morgan did a presentation too and came up with the following discussion points:
- Hardware drivers, smart cards, printer drivers and scanning have their downfalls (although driver support is getting better specific driver support for linux isn’t always widely available)
- Windows Admins are notoriously bad at administering linux and will roll back to a known platform if they have a problem (Golden rule: If it ain’t broke..)
- Linux is lower in priority for Citrix feature releases.
- Company policy: Windows Only
As Barry and me where looking for an approach for this presentation Barry came up with the analogy between thin clients/fat clients and woman.. Guess we all know where that came from.. 😉
We used the following slides:
Where the pro’s and con’s are explained in the text for both a thin and fat client but we did some testing ourselves. We got some test devices and measured power usage as an example to see if a fat client would use that much power in order to deliver the performance (Thanks Lenovo, Wyse and iGEL!).
In comparison (not with our tested models btw) you can see that a device like the Lenovo which is the only fat client we tested is relatively small. The second device from the left is a Lenovo Tiny, it’s the first Ivy Bridge fat client in the Netherlands so thank you IBM/Lenovo for lending us this device.
In the picture above we showed our test devices, one of them is a fat client. Can you guess which one?
We setup XenApp 6.5 and used a manual test (Big Bunny HD anyone?). We wanted to test the devices using an automated test but because it usages a launcher we couldn’t use it on the Linux/Zero clients. The outcome of our test was rather surprising:
As you can see in the picture above the Lenovo client didn’t use a lot of power but it could give us the best performance of all tested devices. From Lenovo we got the following results and as we can see we have similar test results although the testing methods where probably different:
- DevonIT VDI Blaster
- Microsoft ThinPC
- Citrix Desktop Appliance lock
- IGEL Universal Desktop Converter
- RES Software Subscriber
The problem I found in these solutions is that they’re not easy to configure and when configured they’re hard to adjust. Some of them even use USB keys to boot from and the disadvantage of USB keys is that they tend to ‘get lost’ over a period of time. Sometimes this is configured throughout the project and admins won’t or can’t touch it because of lack of knowledge, experience and documentation.
One of the exceptions to these disadvantages is Andrew Morgan’s ThinKiosk (free tool), his goal for thinkiosk:
- Central management.
- Ease of configuration.
- Power Management.
- One size fits all for all desktop models you publish to your users
What else did he want his solution to provide?
Native support for HDX functionality:
- HDX Flash Redirection
- HDX Multimedia Redirection
- Branch Repeater Plugin
- Empower user based configuration changes when needed.
- Support for applications or multiple desktops.
- roll back to the users fat client desktop.
So our conclusion was: There’s a market for both but as thin clients/zero clients normally are under scaled in hardware perspective and the price/quality isn’t always what it should be I see more and more deployments of fat clients that are being reused as thin clients. If you want a feature and future proof, low cost client you should consider a device like the Lenovo Tiny with a tool like ThinKiosk to leverage all functionality but simplify management.
The E2EVC organisation just released the HD video’s from the presentations, so I added ours:
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