How to successfully implement thin clients.

How to successfully implement thin
The platform for successful thin client rollout is solid planning,
thorough evaluation under real-world test conditions, and well
designed pilot projects.
Generally, planning errors do not become
evident until actual operation begins. This
applies just as much to the rollout of thin
client infrastructures as to any migration
project, particularly if implementation extends
across departmental and location boundaries.
To avoid blunders that can destroy budgets
and wreck schedules during product rollout,
companies need to follow a few basic rules.
Administrators also need to specify the required security
level. For example, special security functions such as support
for PKI or Smartcards may be needed.
Infrastructure, software and peripherals
Key specifications for thin client selection also depend on the
network infrastructure. Some examples of questions relating
to infrastructure include —
- if a VPN is operated, are DSL connections required?
- is a wireless LAN needed?
- is there a need to support special technologies such as
Step 1: Define requirements
It is essential to clarify exact requirements before
implementing a thin client solution. Identification of goals with
clear deadlines makes it easy to check whether rollout has
been successful. Some key aspects to consider are:
Sessions, administration, security
Token Ring?
It is also necessary to determine the available/required
bandwidth and how to best use it. For example, the packet
sizes of the MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) must be taken
into consideration in VPN networks. If the specified packet
size is marginally exceeded, a second packet is generated
and, in extreme situations, this can lead to a doubling of the
required bandwidth. Customers must consider the number of
First, it is necessary to clarify the type and number of
existing or required servers, their hardware characteristics,
sessions planned run on the thin clients. This determines,
and special user requirements.
among other things, which communications protocols are
used. For example, Microsoft® RDP, Citrix ICA or the X11R6
Which standard applications and, more importantly, which
protocol, or the NoMachine NX protocol for UNIX/Linux
vertical or specialized applications are to be made available
environments. It will be helpful to clarify if terminal emulation
subsequently via thin clients? Are these applications already
is required for access to host applications. Terminal emulation
available in a terminal server compatible version, or is costly
solutions permit consolidation of several terminal devices
porting required?
such as workstation PCs and host terminals.
Central administration has a major impact on administration
costs and on savings that can be made. Here are examples
of questions that administrators can use to plan the
implementation: How efficient and operator-friendly is the
supplied administration software? What‘s the price/
performance ratio? Should an existing, alternative third-party
solution be used for reasons of synergy – Altiris, for example?
Clarification of project goals and the thin client
operating environment
Issues relating to basic requirements::
1. Sessions: number and type
2. Central management
3. Security level
Customers can leverage some of the IGEL implementation
4. Network infrastructure
tools to help speed up rollout. Functions such as Buddy
5. Available/required servers
Update or Partial Update for thin clients running Windows®
XP Embedded reduce administrative overhead. When
6. User requirements
compared to Windows® CE or Linux, the tools help update
7. Required peripherals
more extensive Windows® XP Embedded firmware faster with
8. Special requirements (logos, colors, etc.)
sparing use of network bandwidth.
Table 1: Digital services according to category
Communications protocols and add-ons
Citrix ICA, Microsoft® RDP, X11R6, NoMachine NX, XDMCP, ThinLinc, Sun Secure Global Desktop (Tarantella)
Cisco VPN Client (Virtual Private Network), supported by PPTP
(VPN), Smartcard, Aladdin eToken, Kobil myIdentity
VDI Client (e.g. from Leostream for accessing VMware visualization
solutions), ICA 10 (access to Citrix Desktop Server)
Host access
Terminal emulations
SAP access
Application delivery
Citrix Program Neighborhood Agent
Print services
Thin Client as print server, ThinPrint Client (bandwidth-optimized
Firmware-internal applications (bandwidth optimization)
Browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, etc.
Firmware-internal applications / plug-ins
(bandwidth optimization)
Java Runtime Environment, Acrobat Reader, .NET Runtime Environment
Microsoft® Media Player, MPlayer, Real Player, Flash Player, Macromedia Shockwave
IP telephony
VoIP (SIP Client)
It is also necessary to check which digital services, need to
Step 2: Realistic model evaluation
be integrated into the firmware of the thin clients (see Table
Once all requirements have been determined, they must be
1). The term „digital services“ covers, for example, additional
matched to the features of the thin clients. An initial test setup
functions such as media streaming, IP telephony via VoIP and
with several selected models generally identifies one, two or
headset, print server functionality, SAP GUI or terminal
three favorites. A decision matrix helps evaluate the devices.
emulations for direct host access, as well as frequently
A realistic test environment will ensure a smooth rollout.
involved programs such as browsers or plug-ins. Customers
Business-critical applications should be subjected to the
are also relying on digital services for access to desktop
most stringent tests. „Laboratory testing“ can be followed by
virtualization solutions (e.g. VDI Client for VMware or ICA 10
a further test phase. By involving end-users, companies can
and higher for Citrix Desktop Server). All peripherals (and their
cater to all requirements and expectations and ensure that
interfaces) to be addressed by the thin clients must also be
the system is tuned. If possible, users should work with the
taken into account. Examples of these are keyboards and
new devices for several days. This should reveal potential
mice with a PS/2 or USB port, printers with a USB or parallel
faults and problems. The entire test phase benefits greatly
port, monitors with a VGA or DVI interface, etc.
from all-round assistance by the vendor upon request, the
vendor should also carry out customer-specific modifications
Customers can also consider additional requirements such as
to firmware, such as integrating certain device drivers or
multi-display or multi-user scenarios. Examples from the
software clients.
realm of CI are logos or corporate colors for cabinets, boot
process, screen saver, or desktop background.
Thorough testing and pilot operation pay off
by generating savings!
Provision of a feedback loop
If the pilot phase gives rise to new requirements, it is
advisable to include them in a repeat evaluation instead of
Step 3: Pilot phase and rollout
delaying the rollout schedule. Any new requirements must
Larger rollouts should be preceded by „pilot operation“
first be evaluated. In a further evaluation phase, it is then
following on from the test phase. A pilot operation is justified
necessary to decide on the best form of implementation and
for a customer with more than 50 devices, or those with
to select appropriate devices. As a rule, vendors offer a
distributed locations. Qualified employees are crucial to the
variety of performance classes with different equipment
success of the pilot phase and rollout. Internal and external
levels. If the change to the requirements profile affects only
members of the project team must have appropriate training
some workplaces, these can be equipped with devices of a
and be able to resolve standard problems quickly. It is also
higher performance class.
advisable to keep a few devices in reserve. A guide figure is
five to ten percent of the number of devices to be installed.
Faster is better
This ensures that faulty devices (damaged in transport, for
If rollout speed is a key criterion in thin client selection, a pre-
example) can be replaced. If fewer replacement devices than
configuration option should be available. In other words,
expected are needed during rollout, they can be installed at
device configuration is planned and defined before the
the end of rollout. Servers and the network infrastructure
devices are installed. This can be done using profile-based
should be functioning perfectly before final move is made to
management tools. Workplaces are then immediately
production operation. Otherwise, there is a risk in terms of
available for use once the pre-configured devices have been
employee acceptance.
set up and connected. This substantially reduces the costs
and time needed for rollout--a benefit to companies who
want to expand quickly or for those who need to be flexible in
terms of location.
Figure: Recommended project workflow
Good planning is half the roll out
Example: IGEL Remote Management
The cleaner the roll out plan and the better the support from
the vendor, the less problematic the roll out will be. Whoever
has done his homework, has practical know-how in the
IGEL Technology thin clients can be configured in
background, and has tested as realistically as possible, will
advance using the free IGEL Remote Management
enjoy a problem-free thin client implementation.
Suite administration software, and then put into
service within a matter of minutes. Customers can
also save time by importing the device parameters
Good planning is half the
implementation battle
into the Remote Management software by means
of CSV lists containing the MAC addresses of the
Smooth rollout calls for detailed planning and all-round
assistance by the vendor or systems house. Further aspects
thin clients.
that ensure trouble-free migration are near real-world testing
and professional support.
Germany (HQ)
United Kingdom
United States
Hong Kong
IGEL Technology GmbH
Schlachte 39/40
28195 Bremen
+49 (0) 421 1769 240
Fax +49 (0) 421 1769 302
IGEL Technology Ltd
1210 Parkview
Arlington Business Park
Theale · Reading · Berkshire
RG7 4TY · UK
+44 (0) 870 351 4522
Fax +44 (0) 870 351 4523
IGEL Technology Inc.
5353 NW 35th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale
FL 33309 · USA
+1 954 739 9990
Fax +1 954 739 9991
Toll Free (US only): +1 877 GET
IGEL Technology
Care of: C. Melchers GmbH & Co.
Singapore Branch
101 · Thomson Road
# 24-01/05 United Square
Singapore 307591
(65) 6259 9288
Fax (65) 6259 9111
IGEL Technology
Care of: Melchers (H.K.) Ltd.
1210 Shun Tak Centre
West Tower
168-200 Connaught Road C.
Hong Kong
+852 25469069
Fax +852 25596552
©2008 IGEL Technology A member of the Melchers group. [email protected] FEB-08 US