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Thin Client Overview

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Overview of how thin client network architecture works and how it compares to standalone PC architecture.

Overview of how thin client network architecture works and how it compares to standalone PC architecture.

Published in Technology
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  • Centralised server(s) provide all the processing, applications and data for remote terminals (attached over the local network) From the terminal a user logs into the server to provide their desktop environment Makes the most of the processing power in the server(s). The processing power in a PC is rarely (if ever) used to its maximum potential Traditional v Thin Client Click1: traditional standalone devices have a loose coupling with the network Click2: thin client devices have a tight coupling to the network Click3: user logs into the specific device, user account specific to the terminal (yes can alter this with LDAP etc) Click4: user authenticated on the server only Click5: data stored on devices (and possibly also on server) Click6: data stored on server only Click7: so user has no real 'home' as it's different on each device. User may often be attached to a particular physical device for a familiar desktop environment Click8: user has a home on the server and it will be the same environment whichever physical device they use to log in Click9: applications need to be installed and maintained on every device Click10: applications only need to be installed and maintained on the server Click11: processing is done on each device, inefficient use of processor power as often devices are idle Click12: all processing done on the server, more efficient usage of processor power and far more scalable
  • This slide it to explain that it's not a black and white decision between thin client and standalone PCs, that there is spectrum of possible architectures and models for computing labs, from standalone PCs over to ultra thin client

Transcript

  • 1. Thin Client Overview
  • 2. Overview
    • Thin clients are lightweight terminals which connect over a network to a central server
    • 3. The server provides all the applications, data and processing, none of this is done on the terminal itself
    • 4. This differs from traditional PCs where the applications and data are stored on the local machine
  • 5. Key advantages
    • The devices are very low cost, robust with much longer usable lifespan than PCs
    • 6. Applications only need to be installed and updated on the server. No need to individually manage each device (as with a PC)
    • 7. Data is centrally stored, so makes it easier to backup
    • 8. User access the same desktop environment, data and application from whichever terminal they connect from
  • 9. Comparison with PCs The next slide shows how the architecture of thin client network differs from PC based network in the following respects:
  • 15. Traditional Standalone Architecture Thin Client Architecture Loose network coupling Tight network coupling User has different account on each device Data spread across different PCs and server User desktop different on each device Same account on every device Stored centrally on server Same desktop environment from all devices Applications installed on every device Applications installed on server only Processing happens on local device Server handles all processing
  • 16. Standalone v Thin Client: Hardware Standalone Thin Client Maintenance and Support Each device needs to be maintained separately Client devices require no maintenance, only the network and server Scalability Low: doubling the number of PCs will double the support requirements Very high, adding many more clients adds little to the overall support requirements Performance Varies from device to device depending on processor/memory. To increase performance each device needs to be upgraded Performance based on the server and network. Can increase performance/capacity by adding servers Security Devices contain valuable components, so every area hosting a device must be well secured Few valuable components within the devices (only the monitor). Data centre needs to be well secured Robustness Devices susceptible to component failure (fans, disk drives etc regularly fail) Devices very robust (no moving parts). Ergonomics Fan noise and heat generation. No noise, low heat.
  • 17. Standalone v Thin Client: Software Standalone Thin Client Application management and support Software needs to be installed/ upgraded/patched on every device Software only needs to be managed on the server Data management Data may be distributed over all devices and moved from device to device with USB disk or CD Data stored centrally so easy to manage and back up Virus resistance Poor (with Windows OS): every PC needs to have it's anti-virus program updated Very high virus resistance with open source operating system. System resource efficiency Low: most of processing capacity idle and disk storage empty Very high: centralised processing and data storage means best use can be made of all system resources Usage Monitoring Hard to report on usage as distributed across many PCs Easy to generate usage reports
  • 18. Standalone v Thin Client: Costs Standalone Thin Client Hardware cost per seat High Low Longevity/ replacement costs PC generally have approx 4 year lifespan Thin client terminals can still be useful after 8+ years. Energy efficiency Low, desktop PC (excluding monitor) is typically 100W High – can save 60-80% on electricity costs. Thin client devices (excluding monitor) are typically 5-10W. Total Cost of Ownership High – each desktop PC requires maintenance and administration Low – only the servers need to be maintained
  • 19. Generic user v Identified user Generic User Identified User Data Management User needs to manage and backup their own data. Risks losing their data as can easily be deleted by other users. Users data is kept secure under their account, can't be deleted by other users. Applications Set up according to generic preferences (or the last user) Users can configure/setup application setting to suit them, their changes won't be lost Device affinity/ownership Users tend to use one particular physical device User owns the desktop environment, so can use any physical machine Application integration User must log in separately to each application (and remember to log out properly) Users can be automatically logged into the email and other systems Monitoring & reporting Cannot monitor individuals usage Can monitor and report on individuals usage
  • 20. Many architectures Standalone PC Thin Client Ultra Thin Client Standard Desktop PC N-computing, Surfboard + more SunRay Spectrum of solutions for student computer labs
  • 21. Summary
    • A thin client system is especially useful for providing low cost computer access
    • 22. Maintenance and support is focussed on the server and network rather than the individual devices.
    • 23. Scalable, so easier to support large numbers of clients
    • 24. Old PCs can be reused as thin client devices
    • 25. More efficient usage of processing power
    • 26. Much lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than PCs