When you’re planning a new SBC or VDI deployment obviously the most exciting things that are planned down to the minutest details is the back end infrastructure. The servers and the technology Citrix/VMware/Others all grab the limelight but there is another piece of the puzzle that is more often than not almost treated as an afterthought, the desktop clients or more precisely thin or zero clients.
So often when organisations decide to go down the thin or zero client route, not enough thought is put into what devices to actually purchase or what vendor brand to purchase. It becomes more of a budget minimising exercise, because they’re all the same right!? Some organisations are looking for a solution that fits both their immediate requirements and their budget, whilst others are looking toward future endpoint use cases such as application support, peripheral support, multi-screen support or greater graphic/multimedia capability.
Far more frequently than you think, organisations get trapped in the mindset of only looking to fullfil their immediate requirements and buying the cheapest devices available. Seeing a Thin or Zero Client as a commodity can be a bit of a short-sighted perspective of the technology, which can very easily lead to buyer’s remorse in a year or two. It is far better to buy a Thin or Zero Client that caters for today, but also has the versatility to cope with tomorrow.
I’ve kindly been sent a couple of thin clients by 10ZiG Technology to review, now I must at first say that I have no official association to them other than I keep bumping into the 10ZiG chaps at conferences over the years and I happen to really like the clients and their management functionality.
They have sent me two of their new quad core clients to put through the paces namely a 5848qc Citrix Zero Client and a 5818q Windows Embedded 8 based thin client.
So let’s talk about specs first. The Zero Client 5848qc has a 2GHz quad core processor that can boost to speeds of 2.42GHz and by default ships with 2GBs of RAM (can be upgraded to 8GB) and 1GB internal storage (upgradable at purchase to 128GB). It also comes with 7 x USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0 and one secure lockable port too. It has 2 x DVI ports and the standard audio in and out jacks and rj45 sockets. There are also optional extras in the guise of Wireless networking, VESA mounting and support for USB based smart cards.
The 5818q is a WES8 device and comes with the same Intel Quad Core 2Ghz processor with 2.42GHz boost mode. 2GB’s of RAM is default in this model (upgradable to 8GB) and 16GB’s of internal storage upgradable to 128GB. Same I/O options to the above are in this model. The difference between the two models I’ve been sent lies with the target SBC/VDI technologies that they are directed towards. The zero client is solely optimised for the Citrix technology (HDX) stack while the 5818q Windows Embedded 8 device caters for all of the major VDI clients, including VMware Horizon View (PCoIP) stack, Citrix HDX stack and Microsoft RDS. The increase in base specs of the WES8 device clearly is to accommodate the Microsoft Windows operating system with plenty of spare storage for the needs of today and tomorrow . This device is also available with Windows Embedded 7, the 5817q.
Management is another strong point for me of the devices as 10ZiG provide their Management suite, ‘10ZiG Manager’, for all their thin clients free of charge with any number of purchased clients, so if you have 1 thin client or 100,000 you’re still entitled to use the management software no strings attached. There are also no hidden upgrade charges, so you get full enterprise functionality, for unlimited devices, 100% cost free.
The 10ZiG Manager will auto discover and apply custom template configurations to thin clients as they are added to the network and the configurations are also applied dynamically so any updates are applied applied when the thin & zero clients are rebooted, so no SneakerNet required here thank you! Additionally, templates, images or configuration changes can be scheduled remotely to occur when it suits you your staff’s working hours, meaning no downtime.
So whats Quadcore all about then
Quadcore thin clients may seem a little over the top and in fact when I’ve told people about them thats often the politest reply I’ve received however thinking about the technologies involved this makes a great deal of sense. As I’ve mentioned above organisations are happy to tweak tune and plan their infrastructure in miniscule detail in order to maxis IOP’s reduce OS bloat and increase performance on the datacentre and then by the same token often you see then purchasing the cheapest items available that sit on the users actual desktops be that actual workstations or thin clients. Now you can have one of those fandabbydozy 1million IOP arrays with NVIDIA GRID cards serving just two VDI instances but if the endpoint that actually has to make sense of the PCOIP/HDX/RDP traffic and deal with keyboard/mouse move along with Lync voice etc transactions is not up to the job the end user will still get a shabby experience.
VDI and SBC traffic whilst always being optimised and improved by the vendors is also being asked to do more and more each month and its not just a nice to have niche cases within the organisation anymore. Everyone wants lync to run virtually across HDX or PCOIP for instance and the trend is growing to make use of graphics acceleration technologies such as NVIDIA GRID to serve up things as seemingly mundane as web pages as Internet Explorer has used for quite some time capabilities of a GPU.
All this and whatever else is round the corner requires grunt at the client end to be processed and dealt with accordingly. Those often purchased bargin bin thin clients by any vendor that would have served their purpose very well in the PS 4.5 2003 days of a bit of Word, Outlook and basic admin task published applications suddenly end up costing a lot of money when they are discovered to be underpar and end up in the skip or Ebay.
10ZiG have made sure that the thin client experience is great for both IT admins and end users, with all thin clients I’ve tested booting into their Operating Systems and their PCOIP/HDX sessions with the minimum amount of fuss that normally confuses and upsets. Both thin clients I received coped with office type workloads and playing video content etc flawlessly. I also ran a quick test of the NVIDIA faceworks demo on the zero client as shown in the video below (sorry no pro video equipment here) which even with the underpowered lab equipment I had worked very nicely indeed.
Both devices reviewed also support local HDX flash redirection, which is particularly unique in the 5848qc’s case as you would be hard pushed to find another Zero Client that does this on the market. If you have tens of users running flash content all at once then this allows all of that server workload to be taken on locally by the device itself.
In addition to all the above 10ZiG are currently (as per the date of this blog post) running a buy-back program where customers who have any vendor’s treradici 1 based hardware can trade them in for new 10ZiG thin clients. This is great news for any long time VMware Horizon View customers who are facing the end of the Tera1 protocol which will see out its days within the VMware Horizon View 6.01 release. All future releases of VMware View will use the Tera2 protocol. This is a great incentive to ease the financial burden of upgrading your VMware Horizon View estate and also to standardise your thin client estate at the same time. You can get more information on the scheme from HERE.
If your still not sure 10ZiG will send you demo units which you can use along with the management server component to see if they make a good fit in your environment.
Personally I love 10ZiG devices and will always recommend them for their ease of use and great management options and now with the quadcore thin clients even those staff who require extra end to end grunt in their infrastructure no longer need be tied to a full on PC.
For more reason to choose 10ZiG, see HERE
Author: Dale Scriven