Hosted “thin client” Systems
EACS hosts a “thin client” server farm at a world class data centre in London. This facility is designed to host up to 100% of all the applications systems used by client customers allowing them to deploy applications 100% “thin client.” Connectivity to the farm can either be via a secure SSL internet connection or via private WAN links (typically leased line or MPLS). Internet connectivity at the data centre is highly resilient allowing users to access their systems from any internet connection without the need for any client software to be deployed in advance on their PCs.
What is “thin client” computing
“Thin client” computing is defined by the fact that the application, Microsoft Excel for example, is executed on a central server and displayed on the client system. This is in contrast to standard PC's in which the application and the display run on the same local desktop computer. Think of it as a server partitioned into multiple individual and separate PCs. A modern powerful server can run the equivalent of 40 single business class PCs. The client system can be either a PC (or a Windows terminal*).
“Thin client” computing means we can take advantage of modern powerful servers running multiple Windows applications, simultaneously, for multiple users in exactly the same way that mainframe and UNIX systems process multiple applications, simultaneously, for multiple users.
When we ask you to think of this as a server being partitioned into multiple individual and separate PCs this is an accurate analogy because that’s exactly what it is and what it looks like to the user. When you use a “thin client” PC you are effectively running your own individual Windows XP desktop PC on a central server - everything - Microsoft Office, Window Explorer, Internet Explorer - looks the same as on a PC because it is the same - it’s the same software - just running on a server - which after all is in effect a very powerful PC. The server happens to be running the equivalent of 40 Windows XP desktop PCs simultaneously and the server system that enables this is manufactured by Citrix Systems.
* Windows terminals are simply low cost PCs (they use the same CPUs as a PC but their cost is reduced because they don’t need all the PC components - hard disks or large amounts of memory for instance). The client system need only have sufficient power to render the display of the user session not process the application – the latter takes place on the server.
Today, when IT people talk about a computer network, what is meant is a PC “client server” network. The client, which is the PC, runs the software applications. The applications are served with data (shared files, databases, email ) stored on a server and delivered to the client PC via a local area network (LAN).
What are the advantages of “thin client” computing compared to traditional “client server” computing ?
a. Software upgrades, updates, hotfixes, patches, device drivers, and service packs
While the PC started out as a simple tool which enabled individuals to increase their personal productivity, it has now evolved into a very sophisticated and complicated device. New PC hardware and software are constantly being released.
This innovation creates an endless stream of compatibility issues, both small and large. Just when you think you have your PCs working perfectly, new applications, devices, device drivers, internet access issues, and security threats arise which require each desktop PC and laptop computer to be individually upgraded, reconfigured, or even completely replaced.
“Thin client” computing removes the need for individual upgrades and reconfigurations because it enables them to be done once and then replicated instantly across all the “thin client” PCs being run by a server and even replicated across multiple servers. This significantly reduces the amount of systems engineer man time required to maintain Windows infra-structures. One systems engineer can maintain 6-10 times the number of “thin client” PCs as he can traditional “client server” PCs (sometimes called “thick client” PCs).
b. Hardware and software upgrades
Historically new versions of Windows (e.g. Windows 2000, Windows XP) and software applications (e.g. Microsoft Office) increase the amount of processing power, memory and hard disk space “thick client” PCs require. Thin client PCs run on server class hardware, which performs much better than desktop “thick client” PCs – this is despite the fact that a single server will be running multiple “thin client” PCs. The life expectancy of a server running 40 “thin client” PCs is therefore longer than that of the equivalent number of “thick client” PCs.