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Virtualization

So You Want to Go to VDI: Thin Clients vs Zero Clients vs Soft Clients

By November 20, 2014December 4th, 2014No Comments

thin clientsDon’t miss the previous post on the infrastructure considerations for VDI.

When you’re planning to adopt VDI at your organization, choosing which end points you will use is important. There are three directions you can go: thin clients, zero clients or soft clients. Choosing which one you’ll use depends on your current environment and hardware lifecycle.

Thin Clients

Thin clients are most commonly used in VDI for a few reasons. They’re basically smaller, purpose-built computers and can even handle some local processing like web browsing. Since thin clients more closely resemble the computer end points most users are familiar with, compared to their zero client counterparts, organizations that are new to VDI are more comfortable with them.

For organizations that aren’t ready to commit to one software vendor over another, thin clients are ideal because they work with all.

Zero Clients

Zero clients have no operating system and just operate off of firmware, hence the “zero.” This type of end point is great if you know which vendor you want to commit to. Zero clients are custom-built for just one vendor, which arguably enhances their performance compared to thin clients. It’s important to note that zero clients have less hardware and generally cost less.

However, zero clients can’t support any kind of local computing like thin clients can and they are locked into one specific vendor. An organization that buys zero clients on Citrix wouldn’t be able to repurpose them if they migrated to VMware.

10ZiG offers a wide range of thin and zero clients that we routinely recommend to our clients. The management software comes free and is extremely user friendly.

Soft Clients

While it’s more common to move to VDI when you reach the end of your hardware lifecycle, it’s not always the case. Even though thin or zero clients cost less than buying new computers, if you’re not ready for new computers, it’s an added expense. You can call up your virtual desktop onto your existing computer and effectively turn it into a “soft client.”

However, part of the allure of VDI is centralized management and utilizing computers will still require maintenance and upkeep. For one, computers’ hardware are expected to experience failure more often and the operating system on each will still require attention.

There is software that will effectively turn your computer into a thin client and remove the need for an operating system, which can be great because it eliminates the Microsoft licensing you’ll have to pay and track. However, you have new software licensing to buy.

When choosing between your options, it’s extremely important to weigh your budgetary restraints with meeting the needs of your users.

Find out what it takes to have a successful proof of concept for your possible VDI in the following installment.

Email us or give us a call at 502-240-0404 if you’d like to do a proof of concept with 10ZiG thin or zero clients or would like help designing your VDI solution.