As the cost of IT grows and companies evolve, the most important question for many organizations is: ‘How can we make our IT systems more cost-effective?’ A traditional, networked Windows environment is difficult to maintain, large PC installations are difficult to upgrade, and PCs have a limited lifespan. Businesses need a solution that extends the life of hardware, and makes it easier to upgrade and change systems.
Reduce Growing IT Costs
Traditionally, the solution of choice has been to move from fat to thin clients, thereby gaining a more secure and cost-effective IT environment but losing some flexibility. Another approach that has lately become more appealing is the client desktop replacement: the IT administrator can transform Windows clients into fully managed desktops running local and remote applications and following the needs of the business.
Thin client technology is not new; it has been around for over a decade. The technology is based on terminal access to mainframes. These systems evolved into Unix X terminals, which provided a graphical interface but not a Microsoft Windows environment. In the 1990s, the then revolutionary thin clients were introduced. The main differences between X terminals and thin clients are that the latter could run Windows, and used less expensive hardware (X terminals were not a cheap option). Instead of running all applications locally on a PC, with thin clients all applications can be run centrally. This is done via a group of servers using a technology called virtualization, which then delivers the appropriate software service to the user over a network.
Modern thin clients replicate the familiar PC environment, but are safer, easier to upgrade, and protect data by storing applications and data in the central environment instead of on individual PCs. This means that even if a thin client fails, all the information remains accessible, which would not be possible with standalone PCs. Today, thin clients are used across a range of industrial, government and educational environments. Users are drawn by the reduced running costs, simpler maintenance and longer life of the equipment.
Client Desktop Replacement
Desktop replacement software allows you to transform any Windows client into a secure and fully managed workstation. The software is embedded in the 2X RDP client and can be enabled at any time from the central console. It does not require specific hardware or software to be installed on the computer, and works with Windows XP, 7, 8 and 8.1. Existing company computers can be used as is, immediately starting to deliver remote applications. This is a major advantage, because the cost of new hardware and installations prevents many companies – even those crushed by the heaviness of their PCs – from moving to a thin client structure.
If users still need to run local applications, the thin client solution is not feasible because one cannot run anything on a thin client. In principle, it is generally agreed that nothing should be done locally, but this may be necessary sometimes when applications are tied to a legacy operating system such as Windows XP or Windows 7. This situation is transitory because the applications will eventually move to the latest OS, but in the meantime the thin client cannot be used. The 2X solution allows you to be very flexible: you can lock machine configuration on the user side, placing your corporate data in an extremely secure position, or you might decide to allow users to run some local and remote applications.
2X Client Desktop Replacement is able to reduce the operability of the local machine by disabling the most common local configuration options, while guaranteeing the same level of service and security afforded by thin clients directly from your existing PCs. The main changes that affect a PC after the desktop replacement are listed below. The most evident change is the disappearance of the Start button, so that the user is forced to use only the applications published by the IT administrator.
- Disable Start Button
- Restrict Control Panel Access
- Disable Windows Key
- Disable the Task Manager
- Disable Quick Access Toolbars
- Disable Security Manager / Action Center Notifications
- Lock the Taskbar
- Remove Pinned Applications
- Disable Metro Screen (user logs directly to desktop)
- Disable Hot Corners
- Disable Charm Hints
- Disable Help Aids
- Disable Windows Sidebar
What Makes 2X RAS Different?
In view of Windows XP’s end-of-life on April 8, 2014, Microsoft and tailor-made software development companies are stopping development for XP, or have stopped years ago. Migrating away from XP is costly and is not a long-term solution. As the next version of Windows reaches its end-of-life, hardware will once again have to be replaced, again incurring downtime to get the new OS, applications and related data onto each machine. To add further perspective, it is noteworthy that mainstream support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will end on January 13, 2015. Converting Windows machines with 2X Remote Application Server (2X RAS) mitigates this process by transforming your outdated Windows machines into managed clients, bringing all the latest applications to all users without the associated costs and downtime. Windows managed clients are also less likely to run out of processing power, as new applications continue to become more memory intensive.
How Does Using 2X RAS Extend The Life Of Hardware?
As computing power continues to increase, and software becomes more complex – including the Windows Operating System – the lifespan of PCs in commercial environments decreases. PCs quickly become too under-powered to run new applications (and operating systems). Often PCs only last 2 years. Hardware can be reused in less intensive environments, but this requires additional IT costs to reconfigure the PC for its new role.
In educational environments, the lifespan of PCs is extended, as institutions continue using outdated hardware and software to reduce costs. However, even in these environments, standalone PC life is assumed to be 5 years, while client-managed solutions are estimated at 7 years. Converting outdated Windows machines into managed clients also allows educational institutions to deliver the latest software to users without upgrading the hardware or software on the PCs.
2X RAS prolongs the life of PCs running on current and legacy Windows Operating Systems, such as Windows XP, by converting them to secure managed clients and delivering considerable cost savings. Using the desktop replacement feature, 2X RAS will disable most of the original OS and create a shell in which you can securely run a virtual desktop or applications, therefore reducing the risk of viruses. The device can then be fully managed from the 2X RAS management console. The administrator can check the state of the device, shadow the desktop and also perform power control actions such as Power On, Power Off, Reboot and Logoff. 2X RAS delivers tomorrow on yesterday’s hardware.
ReferencesThin clients http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/feature/VDI-hardware-comparison-Thin-vs-thick-vs-zero-clients Thin clients http://www.knowledgeonecorp.com/news/pdfs/Thin%20client%20vs%20Fat%20client%20Computing.pdf Thin clients http://www.thinclient.net/pdf/Thin_Client_Benefits_Paper.pdf Thin clients http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Switch-to-thin-client-cuts-support-costs-for-council Thin clients http://www.2x.com/learn/whitepapers/savings-thin-client-computing/ Thin clients http://www.londonhigher.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/GrILH/EAUC_ThinClient.pdf Thin clients http://www.biztechmagazine.com/article/2011/09/thin-vs-thick-clients Thin clients http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore’s_law Thin clients http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/feature/Thin-clients-vs-thick-clients-for-desktop-virtualization Thin clients http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_client Thin clients http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Hardware_Software/thin_client.asp Thin clients http://www.zdnet.com/windows-xp-what-to-expect-once-microsoft-shuts-down-support-7000025348/ Thin clients http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle