mclark
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Thin client recommendation or advise

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I realize that this question is somewhat subjective, but I'm hoping to get some good recommendations. We are looking into a VMware View deployment, but we're not familiar at all with thin clients. We are hoping to standardize on 1 - 3 types of thin clients, hopefully from the same vendor. Our thought is that we would have one client that is good for 98% or our users, one for "power users" that need a more powerful client, and one for lab machines that don't need even as much as regular users. We are also thinking about a "notebook" type of thin client for some users that currently have laptops (maybe).

I've been doing some research, and Wyse seems like a good brand, but I want to be sure before I recommend something up the line. My key concerns in a thin client are manageability, security, ease of use (both for administrators and users), having the processing power necessary to perform tasks users want to do (which includes the possibility of dual monitors), having the ability to offload multimedia to the client versus the server, and PRICE.

I've found a Wyse V10L for about $320 (running Wyse ThinOS) and a V90L for about $415 (running Windows XPe). I don't know what advantages (or disadvantages) we will have running a "Thin OS" versus Windows XP or XPe. Also, I am wondering how much difference memory makes in a thin client. It seems like a lot of them come with 128 MB of RAM, but that doesn't seem like a lot. We don't know if we should be targeting a client that has at least 512 MB or RAM, or if that really matters all that much.

I hope this gives you an idea of what we are looking at. I would appreciate any advise or information on brands, what OS's to use (or not use), what to look for in terms of processing power and/or memory, etc. We also really don't want to spend over $500 on a thin client as we would then be geting close to a desktop price, although I realize that the life span of the thin client should be greater than that of a desktop, in theory.

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justin_emerson
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The HP product can do what the Wyse can do, but they haven't officially released the software to do it on the t5545, only the XP embedded thin clients so far. That should be coming this month, and yes it doesn't require add'l $$$.

For the Wyse, you do not need an add'l server to do any of the TCX things... and they don't need to be in Active Directory. There are management consoles for both vendors' thin clients, but those are for asset tracking/remote assist more than they are for authentication.

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justin_emerson
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The two largest Thin client vendors are HP and Wyse. You will see VMware supports both of these manufacturers pretty extensively (they're always the first ones on the HCL).

On the Wyse side, the V10L should suffice for almost all your users. I highly recommend the V10L, and if you have a power user who needs two very large DVI monitors there's a version of the V10L with Dual-DVI ports. It handles multimedia redirection, USB redirection (though these are both add'l cost options) and performs very very well.

On the HP side, the t5145 is a good low-cost thin client comparable to the V10L. It can be managed similarly, and its performance is pretty good (I find the V10L to be just a bit snappier). The t5545 is twice as fast, and will have support for HP's RDP Enhancements which include USB and Multimedia redirection (at no add'l cost). The HP thin clients also have more USB ports - I find the 3 on the Wyse V10Ls to be a little lacking.

Finally, if you need laptop thin clients, both vendors make them. They're about the same - but I tend to like the HP one more because it just looks more professional. Feature-wise they're mostly identical.

However, I would shy away from designating "power users" as requiring a more beefy thin client - the TC itself shouldn't have to do anything differently for a power user vs. a standard user. The Wyse V10L only needs 128MB of RAM because its firmware image is less than 8MB.

mclark
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Thanks. This is a great help. Just a couple of follow-up questions...

Based on your post, to get some of the multimedia and USB redirection features on Wyse, we would need the TCX software, right? It looks like it's about $30 per client, plus an additional Windows server. Do you use this functionality? If so, do you know if the server that it requires can be a virtual server on ESX?

Also, do you have any experience in Wyse's capabilities with the TCX add-on versus the capabilities built-in to the HP client? If the HP client can do alone what the Wyse client can do but needing an additional piece of software and a server, that may push us to the HP product.

Finally, will both of these clients integrate into Active Directory (or do they need to)? As I said before, we're totally new to thin clients, so I don't know how they are managed, but it looks like there are management servers that you can install for them, is that right?

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EXPRESS
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Here's my two-cents, we are using Wyse V10L's, with XP guest OS, we are using TCX for USB, Multi-Display, Rich Sound, Multimedia all seems to be working fairly well. We have come across a few issues nothing to serious. The WNOS.ini file is hosted on the VC server not a big deal at all. So I can only speak of Wyse since we havn't tested HP. Good product customer service is okay.

Thank you,

Express

Thank you, Express
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justin_emerson
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The HP product can do what the Wyse can do, but they haven't officially released the software to do it on the t5545, only the XP embedded thin clients so far. That should be coming this month, and yes it doesn't require add'l $$$.

For the Wyse, you do not need an add'l server to do any of the TCX things... and they don't need to be in Active Directory. There are management consoles for both vendors' thin clients, but those are for asset tracking/remote assist more than they are for authentication.

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mclark
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OK. I looked at Wyse's site and it sounded like TCX required a server, so that's good to know.

In terms of management, what I was wondering about was firmware updates, seeing if any are malfunctioning, looking at their statuses, etc. It looks like there's management software you can use to see all of your devices, maintain them, etc. I wondered how easy that was for each vendor's device.

If they don't have to be in AD, how does the VMware View Connection Client use AD to authenticate? Does the View client software have the internal capability to authenticate against AD without the thin client itself actually being a domain member?

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Vitaly91
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I would like to also suggest looking at Sun's SunRay clients. They offer a wide variety of functionality. They can authenticate to AD or Novell's eDirectory or any LDAP.

They are stateless devices, so no embeded WinXP to manage.

They allow connection not only to Windows desktops but also Linux, Solaris, mainframe, etc.

And they, of course, integrate with VMware VIew.

If you 'd like more info please take a look at this link: http://www.sun.com/software/index.jsp?cat=Desktop&tab=3&subcat=Sun%20Ray%20Clients

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions.

And no, I do not work for Sun!! 🐵

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justin_emerson
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The View Client authenticates to AD the same way a standard RDP connection would. If I RDP from a device to another server somewhere, that's when I authenticate - my client doesn't have to be in the same AD. Same thin with VMware View - you authenticate after connecting to a View Connection Server.

And regarding Sun-Ray... I think their thin clients are slick, but what I worry about is Sun's long-term commitment. I've been burned by Sun in the past, and to them I don't think this is their core business. On the technical side, SunRay requires an additional "SunRay server" which does the ALP -> RDP translation, and they've already started supporting their own xVM virtualization platform, so we'll see how long they stick with VMware before they start pushing an all-Sun solution.

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Vitaly91
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

Justin,

You correct. SunRays require SunRay server. But it's just a VM that you run along with your Windows desktops anyway.

As for long-term support, Sun has just released their Sun VDI 3. It has both - Virtual Box and Virtual Center integration. So they are definitely commited to keep supporting VMware View. They have also release View "connector" for SunRays. So I believe there is nothing to worry about from that perspective.

Since you mentioned ALP -> RDP translation, that would be another advantage of SunRays over other thin clients. ALP is a pixel-based protocol. As such, it performs much better than RDP. Considering if you need to provide access to virtual desktops over the WAN or Internet, ALP will perform better than sending the whole screens over the network as RDP does. The only RDP action would then be just inside your ESX server and not on your network.

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justin_emerson
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ALP is better than RDP hands-down, but the way that it does the ALP->RDP translation means that if it sucks over RDP over the LAN, it will still suck over ALP via the WAN, because of the inherent shortcomings of RDP.

If we want to get into the protocol wars, HP has RGS (which there should be some really great news about coming very soon) and VMware has their own PCoIP which will be available before the end of the year.

I think if you're trying to look at recommended Thin Clients (which was the original question) I'd rather go with a more generalized Thin Client that doesn't lock you into using a particular solution, but that's just my opinion. I'm actually a big fan of SunRay as an end-to-end solution, but not so much when paired with VDI.

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mclark
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justin.emerson -

Thanks for your helpful advice and assistance.

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mclark
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Thanks for the info. I had heard of Sun Rays before, but the additional piece(s) that we would need to maintain kind of turned me off to them somewhat.

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