Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:23

Dell Wyse says 'thin is in'

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Thin clients are regaining popularity for security and convenience. Dell acquired leading thin client provider Wyse back in 2012 and has quietly been developing the technology for enterprise use.

Dell Wyse has released two new thin clients (7040 and 3030 LT), a thin client appliance server 2.0, Wyse Device Manager 5.7, ThinOS 8.3, ThinLinux 1.0, and Dell Data Protection Threat Defence for WES Thin Clients.

If the term thin client (or zero client) means little to you, this article won’t be relevant except to say that for the most part the Internet is based around thin clients (lower powered devices) to display things done on higher powered Internet servers. Anything accessed via a browser, for example, could be likened to a thin client.

A thin client is essentially a lower powered, ultra-small form factor computer that runs an operating system (OS) like ThinOS, ThinLinux, or Windows Embedded to communicate with a higher powered server where the work is done. The client replaces a full blown PC and displays a virtualised desktop and apps (usually Windows and Office) and handles an external keyboard and monitor. The term zero client simply means that the operating system is built into the firmware – like VMWare or Citrix.

In my corporate past, I have used thin clients to great effect. They can lower the cost of ownership (of PCs and their attendant support costs), they are infinitely more secure, and for the most part, will do what a PC does – with the notable exceptions being in heavy graphics but technology now has an answer for that.

Dell Wyse is bullish about the technology, especially in high-security environments like health, finance, banking, government and larger enterprise – although it also makes sense in small environments to replace say, 20-30 PCs.

Wyse 7040 (US site)

Wyse 7040This is the top of the range thin client running Windows Embedded, and a choice of Intel Core i5 or i7, VPro, TPM, at least 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a range of SSD or hard disks. It has a fibre network option and will support a single 4K screen or three HD screens.

It has been popular as an ultra-secure, high-performance thin client to meet the demanding needs of the Federal and other similar markets where performance and security* are paramount. Prices start from US$1202 so it is comparable in price with many desktop PCs.

* Windows Embedded OS requires security. Dell recommends Dell Data Protection | Threat Defence.

Wyse 3030 LT (Australian site)

Wyse 3030 LTThis is a value device (mainstream is 500 series, and performance is 700 series) and can run Windows Embedded, Thin OS or ThinLinux (303 LT). It uses a dual-core Intel Celeron N2807 1.6GHz processor (many Wyse thin clients used AMD processors). It has TPM, USB, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x DisplayPort and Wi-Fi AC dual band. It is compatible with Citrix, Windows, and VMWare virtual environments.

It is the workhorse device for hospitality, retail, finance, healthcare, and education. Prices start from US$329.

Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse V2.0 (Australian site)

Wyse Server 2It is an end-to-end ISV-certified solution that offers Dell “Precision-class” high-performance workstation functionality through a secure, efficient and optimised virtual desktop environment. It is based on a Dell PowerEdge R730 server and has NVIDIA M60 Tesla 3D graphics. It will typically support up to 32 thin clients.

It supports Citrix XenDesktop broker and related HDX/HDX 3D Pro protocols. VMware Horizon broker support is also included. Certification Partners include Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, and Dassault.

It supports the latest Wyse clients, including the Wyse 7040, Wyse 5212 AIO and Wyse 5010 thin client. These would be great in branch offices or workgroups requiring high levels of video and graphics support.

Wyse Device Manager 5.7 (Australian site)

It provides centralised management of Dell Wyse thin and zero clients, allowing IT teams to easily issue software images, patches, updates and add-ons from a single console. WDM is a highly scalable thin client management software solution, giving the ability to scale reliably to more than 100,000 devices based on either Windows Embedded Standard, Linux, ThinLinux, Wyse ThinOS, or PCoIP.

It has the capability to host WDM into AWS environments.

Wyse ThinOS 8.3

Wyse claims this is the most virus-resistant, thin client operating system. It now supports Citrix HDX RealTime Optimisation Pack and Skype for Business in addition to Lync 2010 and Lync 2013.

It supports updated protocol features from Citrix, VMware, Teradici, and RDP, as well as Windows 10 virtual machines. It also supports Amazon Web Services connections over PCoIP and is compatible with the latest Wyse management options, including Wyse Device Manager 5.7. It supports Imprivata’s biometric fingerprint authentication solution for secure access to data.

In short, it has narrowed the functionality gap between other Thin Client OS without sacrificing security. It does not, however, support any browser.

Wyse ThinLinux 1.0

This is new thin client-optimised software based on SUSE Linux that has been further hardened and optimised by Dell for thin client environments. It features a simplified user experience and intuitive interface for easy adoption for new users. It provides a flexible thin client operating environment with broad peripheral support including a variety of monitors, including 4k displays, printers, smart cards, and fingerprint readers. It also features broad broker support including Citrix Receiver 13.1, VMware View and Amazon Workspace, and support for unified communication platforms including Skype for Business, Lync 2013 and Lync 2010. For additional security, ThinLinux also supports single sign-on and VPN. It supports browsers.

* Dell Data Protection | Threat Defence for WES Thin Clients (US Site)

Dell says its protection will stop 99% of all APTs. It is designed for Windows Embedded Thin Clients as well as Windows and macOS desktops, and Windows servers 2008+, it does not use traditional anti-virus/malware signature-based detection. As it uses the power of the cloud and its associated artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect any departure from known good behaviour, it uses very little CPU or memory making it ideal for thin clients.

This type of protection is becoming more popular as traditional AV struggles to keep up with the 390,000 new malicious programs detected daily. It also reduces the time that cyber attackers can spend undetected in the system from an average of 205 days to virtually instantaneous.

Comment

Thin clients in the right environment are set and forget – often staying in use for 5-10 years out of sight and mind. They require far lower support overheads and cut energy consumption and cooling overheads dramatically.

They are still not a 100% replacement for an Intel Core i5/i7 desktop but for the majority of users will do an equally good job. I am impressed with the Dell Wyse offerings, especially their interoperability with legacy thin clients, computers, and servers.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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