1 THIN CLIENT OPTIONS Sponsored by: Speaker: Brian Madden, Independent Industry Analyst and Blogger Brian Madden: Hello. My name is Brian Madden, and welcome to Part 2 of our threepart video series about thin clients. Part 2 is about what are the options we have for thin clients. So, in Part 1, I talked about when you might want to use thin clients. Now, if you decide okay, yes, I want to use thin clients. Well, what does that mean? Because there are tons of different options. If I because it is not like oh, I say I want a thin client, give me one. We have traditional thin clients, which have local OS system, often were streamed. There is some have media processors added to them locally. There are systems on chips. We can convert old PCs to thin clients. We have got direct-connected Netbooks, tablets, all sorts of things. So, in this short video, we are just, kind of, go through all the options of what actually exist when we say a thin client. So, I guess, you know, that is the first takeaway from this is, is this whole concept like this traditional thin client, that doesn t exist. If someone comes to me at a conference and is like hey, we are going thin clients, what do you think? I got to say what are you talking about? Like when you say a thin client, what do you mean? Because there is no like one-size, you know, fits-all thin client anymore. So, the thin clients when we say traditional thin clients, you know, currently, I guess I could say is that, you know, they have most traditional thin clients, if I want to call that have an OS locally. It could be Linux or Java or, you know, Windows embedded. It could be, you know, vendor-specific like thin OS or you know, like Blazer or like one of these types of things. So, traditional thin clients have an OS locally, usually on a chip in firmware. Traditional thin clients have CPU memory. CPU could be, I mean, maybe even some like super cheap ones have like a couple of hundred megahertz up through like multiple gigahertz.
2 They have got memory again on the low end, you know, a couple of hundred megs, up through multiple gigabytes, and they have got Flash where they have got like the actual image itself that has your Citrix client, a VMware, a Microsoft client, whatever on it. And then, finally, some of these thin clients have special chips in them. So, there are thin clients that have like PCoIP processing chips. Some clients have GPUs in them, so they can do like video redirection and like, you know, 3D graphics and that kind of stuff. Some thin clients actually have media processing chips built into them as well like H.264 decoding. So, if you want to watch, you know, full screen H.264 encoded movies, you can do it even on a very low end thin client because it has got like a media, you know, coprocessor built into it. So, when we say traditional thin clients, as I said, there is a lot of different things that it could mean, but it is we are all we are talking about, sort of, this is the range of options. So, where the traditional thin clients make sense? I mean, you know, we like traditional thin clients. They have got it is really a very small footprint, a lot of the classic thin client option or benefits I should say, you know, that can be easy to manage. There is not a lot of moving parts. There is not a lot of setup at the location. So, they are easy to replace, right? So, the idea is, if you break one or something like that, you don t have to have an IT pro on site to put and help us to get you couldn t literally have some extra ones in the closet, pull out of the closet, plug it in, and it will, sort of, auto-configure itself, and the user has backup to working right where they left off. Thin clients also, you know, if theft is an issue, there is they don t do anything. It is like stealing a cable modem or stealing a cable box, right? There is nothing inside it. So, if theft is common, if someone steals a thin client, a they probably don t want to steal it because like it doesn t do anything without the backend, but b there is no data on it. You don t have to worry about like data loss and that sort of thing. And thin clients are also lower power, and I don t mention about the green aspects because I think it is a you are getting into a lot of funny math when you are talking about oh, are these more green than traditional computers because yeah, thin clients are lower power, but you need more backend power, but thin clients do have lower power at the actual point of the thin client. So, yeah, maybe, we say fine, I got to have, you know, 5,000 lots of servers to support a lab full of computer users. Well, your thin clients, you know, maybe, you have a school or a room with like old wiring and there are only a few power plugs like only around the
3 room. You can actually throw 30 PCs in that room because it takes off too much power, so that you can put your, you know, computing back in the cloud or in the data center, and actually, thin clients themselves have lower power. So, that is cool. Now, of course, now the cons of traditional thin clients, they are small, so there is not a lot there is not a ton of resources. You can t there is not too much room in these things for like tons of GPUs and like CD-ROM drives, and all that kind of stuff. Also, even though thin clients are designed to be, you know, long lifecycle, you don t you still don t always have compatibility with the next thing. So, you might say that, you know, oh, I want my thin clients to last seven years, which is cool, but seven years ago, what were user s expectations? We had like 1024 x 768 single screen, and now, we want 1900 x 1200 times two screens, and now, we want like GPUs. Now, we want like USB 3.0 and like lightning port, you know, all all these kinds like advanced ports and that kind of stuff, which yeah, your old thin clients still work, but they just didn t have all these new capabilities. So, that can be one of the, sort of, downsides of having thin clients to last a long time, and then, also, different thin client makers like, you know, Dell or with Wyse has their own management infrastructure. HP has their own I mean, all the thin client makers have their own, sort of, management infrastructure, so you know, if you and these are different than PC management infrastructure. So, if you are going for an environment that is all PCs and domain-joined laptops, then you want to replace with thin clients, you got to learn a new environment or if you want to switch from HP thin clients to, you know, like Wyse thin clients, you got to learn a new management environment. So, that is, kind of, like the traditional thin clients. One of the newer types of thin clients that is out there, it is something called like zero clients. This is it is a joke word, right? It is like thin clients were thin while zero is like thinner than thin. It is zero, and zero clients are even like a lot of the same advantages of traditional thin clients, even maybe smaller form factor. The big difference with zero clients is zero clients are typically dedicated like the client protocol, like if it is PCoIP or Citrix HDX or Microsoft RemoteFX, they are usually more dedicated that they only work with they have got chips in them that only work with that one protocol. Or that is, sort of, some people want to say zero clients, they mean that or they mean that there is no configuration like some of these zero clients, they can work with multiple protocols, but there is nothing on the there is no firmware like there is nothing on the
4 device ahead of time like you turn it on, and it does like a network boot and downloads everything over the network. So, there is like literally like no configuration locally, which is just less, you know, firmware potentially and things like that. Some of the problems with these zero clients though is that, you know, because they are so small and so very specific, you don t have you have even a less expandability and, sort of, like future proofing than you might have with traditional thin clients, and then, if you are getting one that has like a specific hardware in it, you might be locked into specific protocols. So, if you buy a zero client that is made for VMware PCoIP protocol, it is only going to work as a VMware PCoIP client, and if you, in the future, decide you are going to move over to Citrix with HDX, you got to throw away those PCoIP thin clients. So, less to configure, maybe, locked down (Inaudible) out there. Some people are using cheap PCs as thin clients. So, it is like hey, you already have existing PCs in your environment, why not just lock them down and re-use them and just call them thin clients? So, you know, they are so cheap, you probably already have them. All your management infrastructure is in place. Your domains are already domain-joined. It is either easier to lock down. They are pretty expandable. It is nice because cheap PCs just run like probably a version of Windows and typically, like VMware and Citrix or Microsoft. They are Windows client software, like it is the most advanced and it has the most features. You can also run some applications locally if you need to like local web browsers or like if you have got like a few apps of (Inaudible) locally like video conferencing, you can do that, and even a three-year or four-year-old PC might be more powerful than even like a new thin client. So, that is a cool option, but you know, these things have still big full-sized PCs. They got hard drives. They have fans. They require service. You know, it is possible for users to break them, which means that, you know, now you are back in the game of like managing devices, which is, maybe, why you went to thin clients in the first place. These are full PCs with the hard drives. They can be stolen. If they are stolen, is there data on them? Are you sure there was not? You know and so, yeah, it is still used on PC. You don t get the power benefit to that kind of stuff. So, that is an option. There are these things called direct-connected thin clients. So, if you ever heard of Windows MultiPoint Server, these are thin clients or plug-in like with USBs. So, these are not even network devices. These are like super tiny, like they plug
5 in via USB and connected that way. It has got a nice user experience, super cheap like under 100 bucks, so simple installation like teachers can install and configure these kinds of things, but these are super this is a very niche. So, there are not a lot of companies that even make these things, and you are connecting via USB. So, it is fine for like a class with like one computer and five little, you know, small direct-attach thin clients next to it, but this is not like a major infrastructure, kind of, thing. What we are talking with thin clients hey, remember, there is Netbook and Notebook style of thin clients. These are like thin clients, but they come like in laptop formats, which is awesome because it is portable, but it is, kind of, weird because they are portable. So, obviously, thin clients, I, sort of, joke that you know, if you have got users who want to work offline, then thin clients is maybe not the best choice, and when users have something that looks like a laptop, they may try to work offline. Like these portable ones are cool if you are going to be in a campus environment, like in your office and you want to use thin clients, but users are going to walk from, you know, their desk to a conference room or like you know like moving around and that kind of stuff. So, these two have a lot of benefit. A lot of conferences use these for the thin clients, for the Internet access labs, and that kind of stuff just because like, you know, they like they are easier to ship around. They are like monitors and all that kind of stuff, but I don t know, so those are the other two. And then, like next-gen thin clients, I am just going to say that everyone has like tablets and phones and all those kind of stuff like in their bags at all times. Well, now, all of the thin client makers like Citrix has client software for these, VMware has client software, you know, like Dell, Wyse, like there is Microsoft. Lots of client software for these kinds of things. So, these can be used as thin clients too. Users love them because like they love their ipads, you know, and now, hey, if I can use my ipad as a thin client, that is cool. Users always have them with them. The interface, since these are touch, might not be the most ideal for Windows apps. They might be hard to manage, so it depends on how your like what client software you are using for these, if they are manageable or not. Some client software is better than others, but that is an option.
6 So, yeah, that is it. So, that is the whole landscape of thin client options. Now, in our third and final video, we are going to look at how you pick amongst all this landscape that is out there.