VDI Blog
Read. Learn. Stay in contact.
June 19, 2013

Your Basic Industry Questions Answered by 10ZiG!

What is a Thin Client?

10ZiG Clients

For some people the word "Thin Client" is still foreign. 10ZiG is here to educate you on the smartest, cost effective technological switch your company could make, Thin Clients. 10ZiG Thin Clients are an energy saving, cost efficient alternatives to PCs. Thin Clients refer to either a software program or to a physical hardware Thin Client Desktop both of which rely heavily on offloading a majority of its work to a server. Opposed to a PC that has the memory, storage and computing power to run applications and perform computing tasks on its own, using a lot of power. A Thin Client functions as a virtual desktop, using the server to send information to the Thin Client, which gives you a desktop experience that is similar to that of a PC. A PC has hard drives, CD/DVD drives, fans and other moving parts, all of which Thin Clients lack. This allows them to be smaller requiring less power, and with no moving parts, it is far more reliable.

What is a Zero Client?

Tera2 Quad Front

Zero Clients are small form factor, solid state endpoint devices that are generally optimized for one VDI connection type. Zero clients come in two flavors, a(soft) zero client that runs a cut down custom Linux image or a hardware based zero client in which the processor itself has been finely tuned, both optimized for a specific VDI Protocol. Zero clients provide a lock-down image directly from the server that is easy to deploy and ready to go right out of the box. Software updates for these units are minor or non-existent meaning there maintenance is highly minimal. Soft zero clients’ updates are only implemented when the connection broker needs an update, which doesn’t happen often. Hardware zero clients rarely require updates, except the occasional BIOS updates that apply minor changes in the protocol itself. Hardware zero clients such as the V1200 often offer performance advantages are they can be specialized for the protocol itself. Most of the decoding and display processes take place in dedicated hardware and therefore are more efficient than using a soft zero client and a standard CPU and GPU setup as with a thin client.

Pros and Cons of having a Thin Client with an OS?

Thin vs. Zero Clients, choosing to have an Operating System or not is the main decision when choosing to implement VDI into your work environment. There are many key factors that one has to consider when choosing which of the two to go with.

Thin Clients come with an Operating System of your choice, whether it be Windows 8, Windows 7, Linux, CE, ect.. Zero Clients however are units that have no OS. There are various pros and cons to either of the options. Having a Thin Client with an OS allows for multiple protocols where as a Zero Client only has one or two connections.

Thin Clients are known for being flexible and designed for the needs of the individual end-user. IT managers can simply drag and drop the proper applications to the Thin Client for the end-user to access ranging from graphic design applications for the advanced user to very simple Microsoft Office applications for the every-day task worker.

Thin Clients have the ability for installed applications such as browsers, email clients, office/PDF viewers as well as, connectivity to any legacy client server application. Zero Clients will only have applications provisioned to them from the desktop server. These devices can handle the most graphic demanding applications and can support the highest quality multi-media.

Zero Clients are the perfect fit for those looking to use quad monitors without losing precision. Thin Clients are usually configured using a template from previous Thin Client configurations and therefore makes managing the device(s) very simple and can be done by a single IT administrator. With Thin Clients, software updates are usually larger and can be more frequently than for Zero Clients because of their extensive features. Thin Client software updates are still quite small and less frequent compared to a PC.

Zero Clients have a relatively short and simple configuration compared to that of a Thin Client. Software updates for Zero Clients are usually minute, for example the Tera2 PCoIP Zero Client contains the Teradici PCoIP chipset and usually only has updates for the PCoIP protocol itself or the occasional BIOS update for improved peripheral support, thus making for simple software updates. The Zero Client has less maintenance needed, however is restricted in its capabilities more so than Thin Clients. Hardware Zero Clients tend to tie you to one specific protocol, however with a Thin Client with an OS can support multiple VDI Connection Brokers throughout its life span with ease.