Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Attack of the Thin Clients!

So, for my latest project at work, I'm working on transitioning our company to Server Based Computing and thin clients.  There are many pieces to this puzzle, especially considering the fact that the company is not yet even on a domain.  I'm in the process of evaluating several pieces of software (Ericom's WebConnect, Provision Network's Virtual Access Suite and of course the almighty Citrix's XenApp) and several pieces of hardware (Wyse and HP thin clients).  Not to mention the whole Windows domain infrastructure that will also need to be in place :)

Anyway, I thought it may be a good idea to keep track of my findings -- and see if anyone out there might have any advice or suggestions for our journey ahead... as I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have already done, or are in the process of doing the same thing.

We've decided to build all of this on top of Windows Server 2008, so I have already set up a test Active Directory domain, and Terminal Services on separate servers.  I was able to install WebConnect as well as XenApp on the Terminal Services box, and have been able to give both a little bit of a test run.  WebConnect was very easy to set up and get up and running since it is fairly simple.  And while that is a strength, it also limits the possibilities of what you can do with it.  Then, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum you have XenApp, which has so many options and possible customizations that it took a day with a Citrix employee to configure.... and that's just XenApp.  There are apparently quite a few different modules that can be used in conjunction with XenApp to enhance the functionality and feature set even more.

We've also purchased a Wyse Thin Client, which is running Wyse's Thin OS on it.  It's been configured to boot, get info for an FTP server from DHCP and pull all of the settings for connecting to Citrix, etc from that FTP server.  So, at this point, we can literally take the thin client with all its factory default settings, turn it on, and within 15 seconds be looking at a published desktop.  How crazy is that?

Now, we're waiting for the HP thin client to come in so that we can compare and contrast :)

Again, any input, suggestions, questions or advice are welcome!