Software Defined Thin Clients

Deliver software-defined, Windows-based, enterprise ready thin clients

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Work Anywhere Solutions

Enable end users to work securely from any location or Windows device

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Performance Enhancement

Intelligently manage and optimize your virtual infrastructure resources

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ThinKiosk - Software defined Windows Thin Clients

A software-only solution that repurposes existing Windows devices into secure, fully-featured, centrally managed Windows thin clients.

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Key Benefits

  • Repurpose existing hardware
  • Familiar Windows interface
  • Centralized management
  • Maximise your VDI investment
  • Support for Citrix, VMware and Microsoft

Secure Remote Worker - Secure connectivity from a personal Windows device

A software-only solution that turns a personal Windows device into a secure software defined thin client enabling secure remote access and BYOD.

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Key Benefits

  • Connect from Personal Devices
  • PCI Compliance
  • End Point Validation
  • Easy Deployment
  • Remove logistical complexities

IntelliPerform - Powering the optimization of desktop performance

A software optimization solution that maximizes the performance of desktop infrastructure resources.

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Key Benefits

  • CPU Optimization
  • Memory Optimization
  • Advanced rules-based engine
  • Comprehensive reporting tools
  • Centralized management
09 May 2019

Software Defined Thin Client FAQs

Our team receives questions concerning thin clients on a daily basis. This article delivers answers to many of the questions we encounter most often.

Please see below answers to some of the more common questions we receive from clients and other interested parties about thin clients and our flagship thin client product, ThinKiosk.

Key Thin Client Concepts

Please find bellow general thin client information:

Can thin clients access the internet?

Yes, a thin client can access the Internet. Depending on the vendor and model, the device may have its own integrated browser, and then based on network policy, could access the internet directly. Alternatively the device can access the internet via the remote desktop session that it connects to, although technically speaking it’s the session that is accessing the internet in that case and not the device directly.

Can a thin client be used as a PC?

In theory yes, however due to the cut down nature of a thin client (lower CPU and memory resource and no hard disk) then they wouldn’t make very good PCs, unless you were just using it as an internet browsing device.

Can I use my thin client at home?

Yes, thin clients can be used at home just so long as you have a good internet connection to connect to your remote desktop and application sessions, although you could use them just for browsing. You will also need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

What can a thin client do?

A thin client is used to connect to server-based computing environments, such as virtual desktops, published apps, and published desktops, where the processing power is running on server that are located centrally in the datacenter. These servers host the desktops and apps and then display them across the network or internet to the thin client device, which displays the output.

In turn the local key strokes and mouse movements are redirected from the thin client back to the servers. Depending on the device and it’s OS, a thin client could also run less resource hungry apps locally, such as a browser.

Which thin client should I use?

It depends on your use case. Thin clients come in many configurations from high-spec expensive devices, to low-cost low-spec devices and so you need to match the device to what the end user is going to be using it for. You may need a device that supports four monitors for example. You also need to choose a device that supports the relevant display/delivery protocol used by you VDI/published app vendor.

What does the term 'thin client' mean?

Thin client refers to a hardware device that is essentially a cut-down ultra-small form factor PC (hence the term ‘thin’) with lower CPU and memory resources, and typically no local storage other than what is required for its own OS. They are used to connect to server-based computing environments such as VDI or published apps.

Where can I buy thin clients?

You can purchase thin clients directly from the major vendors such as Dell Wyse, HP, and Lenovo, or from some of the thin client specialists such as 10Zig, IGEL, and Praim. Thin clients can also be purchased from channel partners as well as online.

How do thin clients work?

Thin clients are cut down versions of PCs. They contain limited CPU and memory resources, and little or no local storage, save for that used for their own operating system. They also contain graphics and networking. The device is used to connect to remote servers that are hosting virtual desktops and apps in the datacenter.

Users log in to the device and open some form of client connection software or browser that then connects and displays the screenshots of the desktop and app hosted in the datacenter onto the screen of the local device. Local keyboard and mouse interaction are sent back to the desktop or app session. It’s almost like having a very long distance remote control for your desktop!

What is a thin client application?

There are two answers to this. First, a thin client application could refer to an application that is installed directly onto the client device itself. Such as a browser, or some form of anti-virus software. The second is an application that creates a software-based thin client environment such as ThinKiosk.

What is thin client architecture?

Thin client architecture could also be referred to as Server Based Computing or SBC. This architecture describes an environment where apps and desktops run on server hardware hosted in a datacenter or cloud platform, with the thin client being used as the means to interact with that centralized, remote session, displaying screenshots and sending back keyboard and mouse movements over the network back to the hosted session.

What is thin client software?

Thin client software is the operating system that runs on the thin client device. This is typically Windows or Linux based and in the case of Linux is customized by the thin client vendor. In the case of ThinKiosk the thin client software is an application that turns Windows based devices into Windows thin clients.

Users log in to the device and open some form of client connection software or browser that then connects and displays the screenshots of the desktop and app hosted in the datacenter onto the screen of the local device. Local keyboard and mouse interaction are sent back to the desktop or app session. It’s almost like having a very long distance remote control for your desktop!

What is a thin client laptop?

A thin client laptop is exactly the same as a standard thin client in that it has CPU, memory and little or no local storage, along with graphics and networking capabilities, however this is now in a laptop form factor so has integrated keyboard, mouse, and screen.

How do thin clients connect to a server?

Thin clients will have a wireless network adapter or a physical ethernet adapter to connect to the network, and to the datacenter hosted servers. The end user will then launch either a browser or the connection software provided by the virtual desktop or app publishing vendor (Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft typically). The connection software allows the end user to connect to their apps and desktops and launches a session and displays this using the thin client, using the vendors chosen delivery protocol (RDP, HDX, PCoIP, or VMware Blast Extreme).

Are thin clients software or hardware?

Thin clients can be both software and hardware. Hardware devices are cut down PC devices with minimal resource and typically no local storage, or any moving parts. Software thin clients typically run as an application on an existing device.

Are thin clients an app?

Thin clients can be an app, especially so in the case of ThinKiosk. ThinKiosk runs on top of the existing device operating system, locking it down and making it secure. Other solutions wipe the existing operating system and replace it with their own, typically Linux, operating system.

What are other names for thin clients?

Thin clients are also referred to as “terminals” or “dumb terminals”

What is a thin client management solution?

A thin client management solution provides a centralized platform from where to manage you thin client estate from. It typically allows you to send software patches and updates to devices, manage device inventory, and in some cases allow remote power and support capabilities.

What is a thin client operating system?

A thin client operating system refers to a specific operating environment tailored to running on a cut-down device. It can be Windows or Linux based, with Linux-based thin clients typically being a bespoke ‘flavour’ of a cut down Linux OS and dependant/bespoke, based on the vendor of the device.

What is the purpose of a thin client?

The purpose of a thin client is to provide a minimalist device, with lower CPU and memory resources with no local storage, that is used to connect to virtual desktops and apps running in the data center. It is purely used to connect to these environments. They consume less power, are easier to manage, and provide a better level of security.

What does thin client mean?

Thin client refers to a hardware device that is essentially a cut-down ultra-small form factor PC (hence the term ‘thin’) with lower CPU and memory resources, and typically no local storage other than what is required for its own OS. Zero clients will have no local storage. They are used to connect to server-based computing environments such as VDI or published apps.

What is a thin client server network?

A thin client network is a server-based network where all the processing is on a server rather than by the individual client machine. Virtual desktops and published application run on servers and display the screen shots on the thin client.

Is a web browser a thin client?

No, a web browser is not a thin client. A Chromebook is often referred to as a web client as it is browser based, using the ChromeOS, however it’s a device that does more than a thin client as it can have local apps installed. Web browsers can be used to connect to virtual desktops and published apps.

What is client architecture?

A client-server architecture, is made up of a network in which clients or end point device request and receive information, data, and files from a server hosted in the datacenter (or cloud). The Client computers provides the user interface to initiate the request for data from the server and to display the results from the server on the client device in a user friendly interface. The client-server model is especially effective when clients and servers have different tasks that they routinely perform.

For example; in call center where end users are selling products and service, the client computer can be running an application that allows them to enter customer data while the server is running a back-end database where the customer information and data is stored. All clients can access the server simultaneously ensuring they all access the same real-time data, while the client could also be using an e-mail client, and maybe the server is running other tasks too.

What is an example of a thin client?

An example of a thin client, is a device with lower CPU and memory resources, with no local storage, and has a physically small form factor with low consumption power supply and no moving parts. There are numerous vendors including Dell Wyse, HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo, IGEL, 10Zig, Praim to name a few.

How does a thin client work?

Thin clients are cut down versions of PCs. They contain limited CPU and memory resources, and little or no local storage, save for that used for their own operating system. They also contain graphics and networking. The device is used to connect to remote servers that are hosting virtual desktops and apps in the datacenter.

Users log in to the device and open some form of client connection software or browser that then connects and displays the screenshots of the desktop and app hosted in the datacenter onto the screen of the local device. Local keyboard and mouse interaction are sent back to the desktop or app session. It’s almost like having a very long distance remote control for your desktop!

What is thin client technology?

Thin client technology simply referes to thin client computing in the context of having a thin client device that is used to connect to server resources hosted in the datacenter.

What is a thin client computer system?

A thin client computer systems is basically a thin client device as previously described.

Comparison with zero clients and thick (fat) clients

Please find below key information relating to the differences between thin clients, zero clients and thick (sometimes called 'fat') clients.

What are thin and thick clients?

Thin clients are cut down versions of PCs. They contain limited CPU and memory resources, and little or no local storage, save for that used for their own operating system. They also contain graphics and networking. The device is used to connect to remote servers that are hosting virtual desktops and apps in the datacenter. Thick clients in this context is the name given to a full-blown PC device, that has more resources, and runs a local OS and applications. Thick refers to the fact that they are physically bigger and higher-spec.

What is the difference between zero client and thin client?

Compared to a thin client, a Zero Client has no OS, instead it will have a highly tuned on-board processor that's been specifically designed for one of the VDI protocols (PCoIP, HDX, or RemoteFX). For example, the VMware View-based Zero Clients would use the onboard Tera2 hardware chipset. The decoding and display processes take place on the silicon of the Zero Client and are more efficient. Since they are a hardware-based solution, they deliver better performance than if you were to use a software client with a standard CPU and GPU.

Zero Clients boot up in just a few seconds as there is no operating system to load. As such, they are far more immune to viruses and other malware as they have next to no storage or data stored on them. A Zero Client device does not require any major maintenance and it rarely needs any updates, that is, unless there is a remarkable change or improvement to the VDI protocol or a rare BIOS-related update. If you change your VDI infrastructure from PCoIP to a new protocol, then the device cannot be used with a different protocol, so you lose the flexibility that you get with a thin client.

What is a rich client versus a thin client?

A rich client is halfway between a thin client and a full PC. It’s a device that has some resources installed and run locally but also has access to other resources such as virtual desktops and published applications running in the datacenter. A fat client has local installed resources and doesn’t much rely on those hosted in the datacenter.

Is Citrix a thick or thin client?

Citrix itself is neither of these things. Citrix is an ISV (software vendor) that provides the virtual desktop infrastructure (Citrix Virtual Desktop or XenDesktop) or publish application solutions (Citrix Virtual Apps or XenApp) that run in the datacenter or cloud. Both thick and thin clients can be used to access the Citrix resources from the datacenter.

What does thick client mean?

Thick client referes to a full blown PC device that has fairly high spec hardware resources (CPU and memory), local storage with it's own full-blown operating system. Applications are installed and run locally.

What is rich client application?

A rich client is like an intelligent client/terminal. It’s a networked computer that has some resources installed locally but also depends on other the server resources that it connects to over the network or internet. It could also refer to an application running on an endpoint device that retrieves data from the Internet, which has complete access to all the functions in the computer, the rich client program runs stand-alone without the need of a Web browser to enhance performance.

What is rich user experience?

A rich user experience means that the end user interaction with their device and applications provides a more interactive and dynamic experience. For example, it would use higher resolution imagery, high quality audio and overall and deliver a more feature rich environment.

What is a rich user interface?

A rich user interface is what will deliver the best end user experience delivering a feature rich interactive, dynamic, and graphical interface using higher resolution imagery rather than a text-based interface. Familiarity should also be a big part of delivering a rich end user interface experience, in this case delivering something that the end user is comfortable with. A user interface is like a joke – if you have to stop and explain it then it is not very good !!

What is the difference between a thin client and a fat client?

Thin clients are cut down versions of PCs. They contain limited CPU and memory resources, and little or no local storage, save for that used for their own operating system. They also contain graphics and networking. The device is used to connect to remote servers that are hosting virtual desktops and apps in the datacenter.

Thick clients are full-blown PC devices, that have more resources (CPU and memory), and run a local OS and applications. Thick refers to the fact that they are physically bigger and have a higher-spec.

What is a thick client application?

An example of a thick client application is an application that is installed and run on a local PC device or client. This is usually due to the amount of resources that the applications requires in order to run, requiring high CPU, memory, and specialist GPU resources that thin clients don’t provide.

What is a zero client computer?

A Zero Client performs the same functionality as a thin client; however, instead of an operating system, a Zero Client will have a highly tuned on-board processor that's been specifically designed for one of the VDI protocols (PCoIP, HDX, or RemoteFX). The decoding and display processes take place on the silicon of the Zero Client and are more efficient. Since they are a hardware-based solution, they deliver better performance than if you were to use a software client with a standard CPU and GPU. Zero Clients boot up in just a few seconds as there is no operating system to load. As such, they are far more immune to viruses and other malware as they have next to no storage or data stored on them.

This decreases the overall downtime of the device, meaning there are very few failures, mainly due to the lack of moving parts. This increases productivity to the end user. A Zero Client device does not require any major maintenance and it rarely needs any updates, that is, unless there is a remarkable change or improvement to the VDI protocol or a rare BIOS-related update. There are a couple of things to watch out for. First is the licensing. Since these devices are not running on an operating system, you need to look at VDA licensing for using a non-Windows device. The final thing is that if you change your VDI infrastructure from PCoIP to a new protocol, then the device cannot be used with a different protocol, so you lose the flexibility that you get with a thin client. However, you will get much better performance.

Comparison with PCs and hardware

Thin client computing often involves knowledge of PC and hardware installation. Please find below key thin client related PC and hardware information:

How do I configure my thin client solution?

There are two elements to configuring a thin client environment. There is the configuration of the thin client management platform to ensure the devices are up to date, and can be managed, and then there is the devices themselves, ensuring that they are configured with the correct connection software appropriate to the remote vendors solution you are using, and that it is configured to point at the correct infrastructure resources.

How do I set up my thin client?

Unlike a PC, a thin client is very simple to setup. It’s a case of plugging in the various components, keyboard, mouse, screen, and power, and then connecting it to the network. Once powered up you need to ‘point’ it to the address of your virtual desktop and published app environment hosted on the servers.

How easy is it to install thin clients?

Installing thin clients is simple. There is no OS to install, just a case of plugging in external peripherals and then connecting to your remote desktop and application sessions. There is also the installation of the management elements to manage the devices centrally.

How can I set up a thin client server?

If this question is referring to the management server, then that is easy too. You need to install the software on a central server somewhere in your datacenter or cloud hosted environment, and then connect the thin client devices to that server. They are then fully manageable using the management console.

What do I need to setup a thin client network?

Your network will already be in place, used by the current desktop PCs that are being replaced by the thin clients. You don’t need a special or separate network. The devices connect, via ethernet cables or wireless LAN, are assigned an IP address using DHCP, and then are able to connect to the network and connect to the virtual desktop and published app sessions.

How easy is it to convert a PC to a thin client?

How easy it is to convert a PC into a thin client depends on the solution. Some solutions require you to boot from an external device, potentially requiring a deskside visit, or some user intervention. Others can convert centrally from a management server, deployed automatically by the IT admins. It’s also worth noting that some conversions are one way only, meaning that once converted there is no going back to anything that was on the device previously.

What is the difference between a thin client and a PC?

Thin clients are physically smaller than traditional PCs and have minimal resources such as CPU and memory resources with no local storage, with a very cut down operating system. They are used to connect to virtual desktops and apps running in the data center. A PC will have much higher resources, so higher-spec CPUs, more memory and certainly will have a hard disk with a local full-blown OS that will need to be managed. This is because the OS and apps are running locally on a PC whereas they run in the datacenter with a thin client. This also adds to the security of thin clients.

Do thin clients have hard drives?

No, thin clients typically do not have their own hard drives. The most they will have is a small amount of flash memory that would contain the thin client operating system if it’s a model that has that, such as a Windows 10 IoT device, or a Linux-based operating system. The exception is for PCs that have been repurposed as thin clients as the PC would have originally had a hard drive installed in it.

What is a thin client workstation?

A thin client worksation is just another name for a thin client device.

Windows Thin Clients

Windows thin client solutions contain particular challenges and opportunities. Please see below some of the more common queries we receive:

Why choose Windows thin clients in a VDI environment?

You would choose Windows based thin client in a VDI environment, as typically you are delivering Windows virtual desktops and having Windows on the end point as well ensures application and hardware peripheral compatibility, so you know everything will still work. This is especially important if you deploy unified communications solutions such as Skype for Business.

There have been documented issues with unified comms working on non-Windows platforms. Windows is also easy to support as IT admins will be more familiar in supporting a Windows environment, as will end users who will be more than familiar in using a Windows desktop-style environment. Both would mean not having to retrain people.

How do I set up my Windows thin client?

Windows thin clients already have the operating system pre-built so it's just a case on confguring it, namely giving it an IP address and connecting it to your network and then launching the appropriate conncetion software to mathc your VDI or published app vendor.

How do I restart my Windows thin client?

As it's a Windows-based device then you restart it in exactly the same way as you would any other Windows device by clicking the Windows start button and selecting restart.

How do you screenshot on a Windows thin client?

The same as you would do in Windows today, just so long as you have a policy to allow it. IE you've not disabled the clipboard. So you can press the PrtSc button.

Advantages of Thin Clients: Security in the Workplace

A major benefit of thin clients is the workplace security features they typically contain. Below is some more specific information:

Can thin clients get viruses?

Thin clients run an operating system, albeit a cut-down, and often a bespoke version designed for thin client, and are potentially connected to the internet and so they can potentially become infected by viruses and other malware. As with a PC, it is dependent on the operating system as to how secure they are, with some operating systems offering more protection than others. You can minimize the risk by not allowing local browsing, and only allowing the device to connect to the remote desktops and apps as well as preventing access to things like USB devices.

Why are thin clients used?

With PCs end users are often seen as the security risk by installing unauthorized onto their desktop PCs, deleting operating system files, copying and removing data to removable storage devices, or clicking links to malicious websites. With thin clients end users have no access to the device environment and so these issues can be easily reduced or completely removed.

Thin clients have no local storage, other than that for their internal OS, and processing is actioned over the network connection to the host servers in the data center. Even though the thin client may have its own OS, end users do not have access to it and so cannot install software or copy files from it.

How can we use thin clients at home?

Yes, thin clients can be used at home without compromising workplace security, just so long as you have a good internet connection to connect to your remote desktop and application sessions, although you could use them just for browsing. You will also need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

What are the security benefits of thin clients?

Thin client devices are deployed within an organization to support connectivity to virtual and hosted desktops or published apps, providing an extra layer of protection from user-initiated security risks. They do this by preventing end users from having direct access to the endpoint operating system (if it even has one) and the ability for an end user to install their own apps or introduce malicious files or data.

One of the ways a thin client makes this possible is by not having its own local storage. As you are accessing a remote session, no data is sent to the endpoint device. The thin client is purely a mechanism to display the screen of the remote session and send back the keyboard strokes and mouse movements. Devices can also be restricted to prevent end users removing sensitive data as well.

How can thin clients help with security breaches?

Thin clients can lessen the chances of security breaches in conjunction with virtual desktop infrastructure and app publishing. By centralizing compute resource into the cloud or data center ensure that they are behind an organisations firewall and network protection. Thin clients then provide a secure end point device that is used to access the remote environments.

The thin client device and its operating are isolated from the remote session and prevents users removing data or introducing malicious files, malware, and other harmful files. As some devices have no operating system then they prevent less of an attack surface for potential hackers. End users are also prevented from plugging in external devices that could not only introduce harmful files, but also secure private and confidential information from being removed.

What differences do thin clients bring to existing security frameworks?

Thin clients are now able to secure the endpoints. In a typical desktop PC environment, other than anti-virus protection, the desktops have a full operating system that end users typically have access to. This means they could install unauthorized applications or copy data to or from the PC potentially causing data breaches.

Thin clients change the security model in that there are no operating systems for an end user to access and are completely locked down. Therefore, they cannot install rogue or unauthorized apps. It means IT have far greater control over the security of the endpoint than they do in traditional PC environments.

Do thin clients integrate easily with existing security frameworks?

Yes, thin clients can integrate into existing security frameworks. Deployed thin client devices connect to the network and add endpoint protection to the existing network. Existing network policies are also applied to the thin client network, unchanged.

What devices can you manage with a thin client solution?

A thin client management solution is designed to manage thin client devices. It can also manage Windows devices that have been repurposed into Windows-based thin clients, as in the case of ThinScale ThinKiosk or Secure Remote Worker.

Can thin clients enable secure BYOD?

Thin clients could provide security, however not from a BYOD perspective. An end user is never going to own a thin client as they only work by connecting to virtual desktop and published app solutions. However, having said that, there is nothing stopping an end user having a thin client should they only want to use a Desktop-as-a-Service solution such as Amazon Workspaces. ThinScale change that with Secure Remote Worker as it delivers a temporary, locked down thin client environment on their BYOD device while it is running, and without changing the device.

Why should one use thin client computing?

You should use a thin client when deploying virtual desktop computing and published application solution, as the device used to access these environments securely. Thin clients are cheaper to purchase and reduce the cost of support and management. Not only that, they help secure the end point.

What are the main advantages of thin clients?

The main advantage of thin clients are that they offer a secure way of connecting to virtual desktop and published application resources in the datacenter. With no local OS, they are far more secure than a PC. They are also cheaper to purchase and lower the management costs. You can also turn existing devices into thin client devices meaning you can extend the useful life of existing devices.

Advantages of Thin Clients: Environmental

Thin client solutions are known to be more environmentally friendly than traditional IT infrastructure. Below is some more information:

What environmental benefits do thin clients have over PCs?

Thin clients use less power than a traditional full-blown PC. This is because they have lower CPU and memory resources, and no local storage. Particularly spinning disks. As they have less components to power then power supplies draw far less power and themselves have no moving parts such as cooling fans.

Turning existing devices into thin clients also has a positive environment impact as older devices are kept much longer and not sent to landfill. We wrote a blog on this subject - https://www.thinscale.com/blog/go-green-recycle-repurpose-reuse/

Advantages of Thin Clients: Costs

Please find bellow every information related to the Advantages of Thin Client concerning the costs.

Why buy a thin client?

Thin clients are used as replacements devices for full blown PCs when an organization deploys a virtual desktop environment or published application solution. They cost a lot less than deploying full-blown PCs, and they are cheaper to manage and maintain.

Typically, thin clients have their own centralized management platform and help an organization to manage device updates and inventories using a single pane of glass. As they have no moving parts then a thin client will last a lot longer than a typical PC would meaning they don’t need to be replaced as often. There is also the security aspect of there not being any data stored locally on the device.

How much does a thin client cost?

It depends on the model, specification, and operating system. Using a particular vendors configuration site the price ranges from around $300 right up to $1200 for an i7 CPU with Windows 10 IoT.

Limitations of Thin Clients

Thin client computing needs to be assessed against a range of other considerations. Below is a detailed analysis of incoming queries we have seen around these types of issues:

What are the limitations of thin clients?

The single biggest limitation with thin clients is their dependency on the network. As everything a thin client does is delivered from the virtual desktops or applications running in the datacenter across the network, the network then becomes both a single point of failure and the single biggest performance bottleneck in the system. If the network slows down, experiences latency or cuts out completely, the thin client could either slow right down and deliver a poor end user experience or could stop working completely.

Other limitations are dependent on the type of thin client you deploy. An example of this is with zero clients, is if you change VDI vendor. The zero client will be hardcoded at the silicon level to the vendors specific delivery protocol and therefore cannot be changed. If you choose a Linux-based thin client there may be limitations with external hardware devices you use and some of the applications and tools you run, such as unified communications solutions.

Thin Clients: 'Dumb' and 'Intelligent' Terminals

There is some jargon around thin client terminology. Below is some specific information around 'intelligent' and 'dumb' terminals.

What is a dumb terminal?

A dumb terminal is another name given to a thin client. It's called a dumb terminal as it does not do any of the processing. The processing is all executed in the datacenter and the terminal is just used as a display mechanism and way to interact with the virtual desktop or published apps. Dumb terminal of the past were literally a green screen monitor and keyboard.

What is an intelligent terminal?

Intelligent clients or smart clients sit somewhere between thin and fat clients and take the best from both models to create a hybrid model. Applications make use of the local device resources such as CPU, memory, and storage across a range of devices. Although they still access virtual desktops and applications over the local network or internet, they cache information locally in an intelligent way, enabling them to remain working even when the network connection to the server suffers from high latency, or drops out completely.

This means productivity is not lost when the network goes down. Smart clients also adopt a deployment model that is like a web app. IT manager retain a fine degree of control over which resources users can access through deployed applications. These applications are no longer constrained by the limitations of HTML and can offload processing to the local device delivering greater functionality.

Thin Clients and Citrix

Below is the start of a new section focused on queries we have received regarding Citrix and thin client computing:

What is a Citrix thin client?

A Citrix thin client is an and point device that is a cut down versions of a PC in that it has lower CPU and memory resources, and little or no local storage, save for that used for their own operating system. They also contain graphics and networking to connect to and display the remote environment. In this case a Citrix thin client is optimized to run the Citrix delivery protocols to deliver the best end user experience.

Thin Clients and Cloud Computing

Cloud compuing has revolutionized the thin client landscape in recent years. Below are answers to some of the more common questions we receive:

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What are the benefits of cloud computing?

Rather than a business spending money on expensive servers, storage, and networking infrastructure to host internally, you can reduce the costs by using the servers, storage, and networking resources of a cloud-hosting company or service provider. The reduction in costs comes from no acquisition of hardware and not having to upgrade every 3-5 years.

You are effectively renting server space from somebody else’s servers. As you are paying for a service then this may now become an operation expense and not a capital expense, helping the bottom line. It also adds flexibility and scalability as you can simply add more resource when you need it, and take it away when you don’t, all using a subscription (monthly) payment method.

What is server consolidation?

Server consolidation is the practice of taking large numbers servers and consolidating them down into fewer servers. Typically associated with server virtualization where you take a number of physical servers, virtualize them and then host them on fewer more powerful servers, either on premises, or in the cloud. For example, you could take 10 physical servers, virtualize them, and then run them all as virtual machines on a single server running a hypervisor such as VMware, Citrix, or Microsoft.

What is thin client in cloud computing?

Thin client in cloud computing refers to the fact that the virtual desktop machines and applications are running in the cloud and the thin client is being used to access them across the internet rather than your internal network. An example of this is for Desktop-as-a-Service where you ‘rent’ a desktop from a cloud provider such as Amazon Workspaces, VMware, Citrix, or VMware, and connect using your thin client device.

VDI and Thin Clients

Please find below information about VDI and Thin Clients.

Is a thin client a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

No. A thin client is purely referring to the end point device that is used to connect to the virtual desktop infrastructure. It’s used as a means of displaying the datacenter-based desktop session on and end user’s device. Virtual desktop infrastructure refers to the datacenter components that are required to host the virtual desktop machines, such as servers, storage, networking etc.

What is PCoip?

PCoIP, built from the ground up for delivering desktops and apps over the network, is a high-performance display protocol designed and developed by Teradici. It has been purpose-built to deliver virtual desktops over the LAN or WAN and to provide end users with the best feature-rich desktop experience.

With PCoIP, the entire screen content is compressed, encrypted, and encoded in the data center before transmitting only the pixels across a standard IP network to PCoIP-enabled endpoint devices (such as zero clients) that use the hardware-based Teradici Terra 1 or Terra 2 chipset. It supports high-resolution, full-frame rates, 3D graphics, HD media, multiple displays (up to four, depending on the endpoint device), and high-definition audio as well as USB peripheral redirection. PCoIP is used by VMware and Amazon Workspaces as the means of delivering virtual desktops and apps from on premises or the cloud in the case of Amazon.

Is VDI secure?

VDI is secure and is often deployed to deliver that security or enhance existing security policies. As virtual desktops machines are running on centralized servers located in the datacenter or the cloud, they are isolated, and no data actually leave the confines of the datacenter. It remains centralized. It extends user productivity with its security.

You can safely use a public computer, log in to your VDI session and then when the next user comes along there is no trace of your session. It helps with remote workers and contractors as you don’t need to copy your confidential data onto their local device. You just allow them to have access for the duration of the project and then revoke access. Blocking devices ensures they cannot remove confidential data or introduce any malware of viruses.

Thin Clients as an Enterprise Solution

Thin Clients can be an extremely compelling enterprise solution. Below are some reasons why:

Can thin clients support dual monitors?

Depending on the device manufacturer and the model then thin clients can support multi-screen environments. Either dual-screen, triple-screen, or quad-screen configurations can be supported.

Which thin client solution is best for me?

Which thin client is best for you boils down to your use case and what you need from the device? You may need a device that supports four monitors for example, or one that runs an OS that supports your apps such as unified communications. You also need to choose a device that supports the server environment you are connected to, such as Citrix, Vmware, Microsoft, or Amazon Workspaces.

When should an organization make use of thin clients?

Thin clients should be used when an organization looks to deploy a virtual desktop or published application solution within their environment. End users no longer needs a full-blown PC when connecting to remote resources as all the processing is now server based. By deploying thin clients an organization can reduce their costs.

The cost of thin clients is significantly lower than desktop PCs and require less management. As they have far fewer moving parts, no spinning disks or power supply fans they also have a longer lifespan. Security is also improved as the device has no local storage.

What is the best thin client solution for me?

Which thin client is best for you boils down to your use case and what you need from the device? You may need a device that supports four monitors for example, or one that runs an OS that supports your apps such as unified communications. You also need to choose a device that supports the server environment you are connected to, such as Citrix, Vmware, Microsoft, or Amazon Workspaces.

Why are enterprises implementing thin clients?

Enterprises are deploying thin client solutions as they move to cloud-based and virtual desktop solutions, as a means to reduce the cost of end points, from both the cost of acquisition as well as ongoing management, as well as increase endpoint security.

As remote solutions secure data in the datacenter, enterprises need to look at also how to secure the endpoint.

Which industry verticals are implementing thin client strategies the most?

Thin clients are relevant to most verticals. Where they are looked at the most is within public sector organizations where budgets are being cut, yet the organization is tasked with delivering an enhanced end user experience. Healthcare and education type organisations are environments where thin client computing can deliver several benefits. These benefits are the low cost of the device, and the lower management costs.

Security plays an equally big part given some of the locations of where the devices are deployed. Places where they could be taken, and not having local storage ensure data is safe. Enterprises also deploy thin clients for desk-based users that use VDI on a daily basis, so particularly those with large call centres or an outsourced workforce.

What kind of value do enterprises want to derive from thin client implementation?

Enterprises deploy thin clients to reduce the costs of end user computing. When deploying VDI and app publishing, moving processing to the datacenter, end users no longer need the power of a full-blown desktop PC, and for an enterprise they don’t want the management overhead of having to manage two sets of operating systems, or the cost of the management and also the device. They are looking to deploy a secure cost-effective solution.

How can you work out what the correct thin client solution is for your business?

The easiest way to work out which thin client is right for your business is first of all perform an assessment of your environment, which you should do for any VDI deployment, and pay particular attention to what the end user currently has. Pay attention to external peripherals that they use, along with the number of screens. Then based on the chosen VDI vendor, choose a thin client that support the appropriate display protocol and the peripherals you need to attach. If you know you may change vendor then you will need to consider thin clients that support all protocols, or can have the connection software updated to reflect the vendors VDI solution.

The ThinKiosk Thin Client

ThinKiosk is Thinscale's flagship software defined thin client solution. Please see below some of the more common questions we receive from interested organizations.

Is it possible to perform a thin client proof of concept?

Yes. You can perform a thin client POC with your short list of devices/software to test the device/solution works within your environment. Ensure that you have a solid list of success criteria to measure against.

How do I open my ThinKiosk thin client?

ThinKiosk thin clients open automatically when the end user powers on the device. The OS will boot and then ThinKiosk will launch, locking the device down, and applying any of the centrally delivered policies. End user will then simply login and will be presented with the secure workspace environment from where they can launch their apps and services.

What thin client solutions can Thinscale provide?

ThinScale provides two types of thin client solution. The first, ThinKiosk, is a software-defined solution that repurposes an existing Windows device (PC, laptop or thin client) into a Windows-based thin client. ThinKiosk is available in Community, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus editions, each with different feature sets. The second solution is Secure Remote Worker and is a software-only solution that allows an end user to run Secure Remote Worker as an app on their device.

This temporarily locks down their device all the time its running and delivers them a secure workspace environment from where they can launch their virtual desktops and published apps from. Ideal for BYOD environments. Currently Secure Remote Worker is available in Enterprise edition only.

Will ThinKiosk continue to be available into the future?

Yes, ThinKiosk will continue to be available in the future and will continue to embrace new features and innovations.

Might I be forced to change ThinKiosk models during the rollout?

You won’t be forced to change ThinKiosk models, or versions as ThinKiosk is a software-based solution, during rollout. A new version may well be released but you can continue rolling out the version you have chosen. As a software-based solution it doesn’t matter what endpoint devices you deploy on, so you can change devices as often as you like or use completely different devices. ThinKiosk delivers the same experience regardless of device.

Who will be my ThinKiosk Account Representative?

ThinScale have a number of account executives as well as a number of authorized/certified partners that can also help with sales and technical questions.

What are the different types of ThinKiosk solution?

ThinScale provides two types of thin client solution. The first, ThinKiosk, is a software-defined solution that repurposes an existing Windows device (PC, laptop or thin client) into a Windows-based thin client. ThinKiosk is available in Community, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus editions, each with different feature sets. The second solution is Secure Remote Worker and is a software-only solution that allows an end user to run Secure Remote Worker as an app on their device. This temporarily locks down their device all the time its running and delivers them a secure workspace environment from where they can launch their virtual desktops and published apps from. Ideal for BYOD environments. Currently Secure Remote Worker is available in Enterprise edition only.

Will any of the ThinKiosk features change after implementation?

ThinKiosk continues to innovate when it comes to new features and therefore these could change depending how long your roll out takes. You can either upgrade or continue to use your current version.

Where can I see a ThinKiosk case study?

There are a number of customer case studies available to read on the ThinScale website - https://www.thinscale.com/

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