1.)What does VDI offer compared to just connecting to a RDP session? Couldn't I just build some Virtual machines in ESX running Windows XP and have the thin clients connect to these via RDP sessions.
That \_is_ VDI. You can add a connection broker to make administration easier.
2.)Does it matter if the local OS is Windows CE or Linux on the thinclient, if it supports RDP should that matter? For example would the scanner i'm using need to be compatible with the Thin client OS or not because i'm connecting to a machine running XP?
Local thin client OS doesn't matter as long as you have a featured RDP client on it. Since you have the need for touchscreens and scanners you'd want to make sure the thin client OS + RDP client on it support that functionality. You will be better off with a Win CE based thin client. Linux based thin clients have the RDP client that normally trails in functionality with a Win CE or XPe based RDP client.
3.)Which thin clients are good? Wyse, Neoware etc. I'm currently waiting on some demo units.
Neoware and Wyse. But you may want to make double sure all the functionality you desire is supported by the thin client + RDP client on it.
\- As far as the client OS, it certainly depends on the manufacturers support. I like the Computer Lab devices (computerlab.com). Their CE thin client has touch screen support for ELO (serial and USB) and Microtouch (serial). On an XP embedded device, you can basically load any driver.
\- I don't think scanners (or even barcode scanners) are supported by RDP. So if that is a must, you might want to look at Provision Networks (provisionnetworks.com). Their VDI broker also includes USB device redirection for PDAs and they have just beta'd scanner support. Of course I'm guessing that your barcode scanners are USB attached (if not you can use a $5 serial to USB converter). Provisions are also integrated with the computer lab thin clients.
Hope this helps - Elie
i preferer to fo for either linux or propritory OS for thin clients, i dont like to manage they once they are out there, i.e. windows patches and virus protection, this does obviously limit what they can be used for in terms of local printer, scanners etc etc
Dont' forget to check on streaming video support/capabilities. Similar discussion that here: http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=73086&tstart=0
That is a issue for us and we are waiting for the new Wyse terminal before continuing.