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Need advice for Server And thin client system(ncomputing) for a small size computer training institute?

Last response: in Business Computing
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July 21, 2013 9:44:13 AM

hello friends we are setting up a small cap computer training institute where we want to deploy ncomputing(thin client) based system; now my hardware dealer is confusing me to buy an assembled system server instead of a company one.

here is what we desire:
1. a system which can smoothly run 30 users simultaneously, with our last system we were running 7; so i am not sure about the hardware requirements and thus want to buy a powerful server within our budget. At first we will use only 15 terminals.
2. we are going to use win7 x64 archietecture and linux both(please advice do we need two systems or a single unit can run both OS?)
3. which company provides the best servers and to which should we go, as we are going to create a development environment (programming laguages like C/C++/C#/JAVA/ASP.NET IDE's : Netbeans/Eclipse/VS 2012/Dreamweaver/Adobe PhotoShop etc.)

i have mentioned Ncomputing as thin client cause we had used it before and was easily available. I am open to assembled system also but than i would like to know about the complete specification if i have to buy and assemble one.(in past our other hardware guy gave us assembled system with amd processor but turned out it was not so powerful as he cheated us cause their are less informed guys about AMD).

i know its a lot to ask in one go, so thanks for your patience.

Regards
Alok Sharma

FYI: i am currently living in india just-in-case. :) 
July 21, 2013 12:06:54 PM

When you write: "an assembled system server instead of a company one", are you saying that your hardware dealer is advising you to buy custom systems assembled by your hardware dealer instead of buying servers from a brand-name server supplier, such as Dell or HP?
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July 21, 2013 1:49:06 PM

When you write: "an assembled system server instead of a company one", are you saying that your hardware dealer is advising you to buy custom systems assembled by your hardware dealer instead of buying servers from a brand-name server supplier, such as Dell or HP?
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July 21, 2013 6:48:34 PM

Of course the first thing to look at when you are talking about running terminal based solutions is what type of computational work is needed, and what is the expected performance needed for each session or user. Based on the description that you are talking about, it seems like your needs are basically all similar or even identical working environments for a development or training environment. Since you don't have any huge computing needs, and especially since you don't need really great graphics performance, this is feasible to do in a terminal system environment.

The next thing to consider is if you need VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) or RDSH (Remote Desktop Session Host.) RDSH is the more traditional form of terminal environment where multiple users log into a single virtual machine and each are given a session at that virtual machine. The nice thing with this is it makes deployment pretty easy, as you can set up one VM with your necessary software (or a few if you need one for Windows, one for Linux, etc.) and then each user is just given a session to that server through remote desktop. They have access to the same software and environment no matter what computer they log in to. And the cost is pretty effective as well, as you only have to purchase licensing for your software on a smaller number of VMs and can be accessed by a larger group of people. However, the end user doesn't have full control to customize the desktop environment as they are only given a session to a shared VM resource. Generally, once the user logs out all the changes they made (and any files they saved) are then lost, unless you set up some form of shared storage for users. In VDI users are given access to individual VMs that are not shared. This means they can have full access to completely different software or environments than other VMs if necessary, and it can be set up so that files or settings that are changed are saved. VDI can be a little more complex to set up, but it's becoming the more popular option. It does, however, require a little more licensing (you have to license each VM individually) and requires more computing resources (you are running multiple VM desktops instead of sharing a couple.)

Again, based off your description it sounds like you are looking into a VDI solution. Either one would work for what you are looking to do I think, but it comes down honestly to your personal preference to fit your needs which is of course hard for us to really determine for you. In this situation, though, it seems like VDI is your way to go.

One thing that can make a difference for you not just on what recommendations we can make for you, but overall the way your environment will operate and the type of budget you are looking into is what operating system you wish to use for running your VDI solution. There are a lot of options out there, from Xen Desktop, VMWare, or Windows Server. VMWare has a huge set of different features and is widely used and supported, but it can be much more complex to set up and a lot more expensive for licensing than setting up the same thing in Windows Server. Either way, just don't forget to factor in the growing cost of licensing of your physical system into the decision of which you wish to use, but your main deciding factor is going to be which do you have experience with and are comfortable using?

Given that you want to run up to 30 virtual desktops, but only want to start with 15, I might suggest that you look at deploying a cluster. A cluster is a group of servers which together run virtual machines as one big server almost. You can move virtual machines around from one physical server to another in the event of a failure or need for maintenance, etc. Creating a cluster can be expensive though! But the reason I recommend looking at this now is because you can start off with just a single server to run your initial workload (15 clients) and already have things ready when you need to add another server in the future and grow out to accommodate a greater workload.

Personally I have used and prefer HP brand servers. The support and options available with them is really nice, and they just seem to truck along without any real issues. The workload that you are looking at doing you could run on a single six-core hyperthreaded processor, but I would recommend looking into a server with dual processors because you will want the room to grow and give you better responsiveness during times of high demand. A lot of times I have seen people set up VMs in a VDI solution running Windows 7 with as little as 1 GB per VM, with a maximum dynamic allocation of 2 GB if needed. I would recommend giving a little more than this for optimal performance though, such as starting with 2 GB and allowing up to 3 GB or 4 GB if needed. This may be hard to really determine but with some testing on your physical system you can determine a good balance for you.

Even though it is an expensive additional component, I would recommend looking into some shared storage like a SAN. A SAN will allow you to store all the virtual machine hard drives on a very high performance and fault-tolerant storage array which can be accessed by multiple devices. This will be the heart of your future cluster. Even if you start with just a single server now, you can add in future servers later and join them to the cluster and they too will have shared access to the SAN for running virtual machines. There's a few different ways about doing this, generally iSCSI, Fiber Channel, or SAS. The cheapest method is going to probably be either 1 GB iSCSI (low performance) or SAS. A SAS connected SAN can be the best for performance and efficiency, but it is often limited in the number of physical servers that can be connected up to a single SAN (usually four.) For what you are doing, you can go with a single server and no SAN, and run all your VMs on the physical server, but if you wish to expand out later into the future it may be a little more complex or at least not have some of the features of moving virtual machines around, load balancing, or automatic high available failover.

When it comes to the actual endpoint thin clients, that is largely going to depend upon which OS system you choose to run your VDI solution with. For instance, if you chose to use Windows Server 2012 to run VDI, then I'd recommend thin clients running Windows Embedded Standard OS to give you a native Windows environment and a lot of other Windows-based applications that might not even need to be run server-side, but can make management pretty easy to learn since it's based on your familiar Windows environment. However, if you look into more complex solutions like VMWare View, then you can use zero clients, which literally have no operating system and does all of the work on the server side. These are very cheap and have almost no configuration or administration needed, but don't really work to do remote desktop back to Windows Server.
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July 22, 2013 2:06:26 AM

mbreslin1954

yes i really meant that.

choucove

OMG thats a huge portion of information and some terms i am reading at first so i have virtually no idea what a SAN , VM etc is. Our ncomputing device is lot similar to what you mentioned as zero client and one more point to add we will use animation training also in future so i think we would need 3-4 clients for good graphics. i am looking for a centralized easy to manage system, but data security and maintenance is always on top of that.
my budget is around 1200$-1500$(only server cost i have not included clients) for this thing.

this is our current systems specs which is running 7 clients:
AMD FX 4100(it says 4 cores at startup)
32GB RAM
2GB radion graphics card
1TB HDD seagate
and the thin client is nComputing some US company
OS- WIN server 8 r2
anyways we are currently running only php enviornments such as xampp(which are very low burden on hardware) and VS 2010 sp1,dreamweaver cs3(when all used it starts hiccups which i dont want).


Regards
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July 22, 2013 10:07:05 AM

Running the number of simultaneous users you are talking about on that type of desktop computer is just killing the performance. There are areas where you have to have better performance, and other areas where you aren't utilizing performance to fit your needs. Unfortunately, $1,500 is not going to come close to getting you a decent server to do what you are talking about. If you are retiring your old server you might be able to transfer licensing of your Server 2008 R2 to the new server, but that's questionable. Technically with any OEM licensing it is bound to that machine, which means if you purchase a new server you have to license it completely new. That alone is half of your budget.

I guess at this point I'd reconsider doing a terminal system if you only have that kind of budget to work with. It's expensive to set up a decent terminal system, especially when you are wanting it to start with 15 VDI clients and grow upwards of 30. And it's not the type of environment you can go graphics-intensive work. Unless you have an unlimited budget and an expert in VMWare View, you are not going to get desktop-quality graphics performance for design work in a terminal services environment. You're far better off getting stand-alone workstation computers for that particular need.

In the end you might be able to build a pretty nice performance consumer-type desktop for $1,500 that, while it's still not going to run 15 clients simultaneously, would at least run your current 7 or 8 at better performance. However, this is just a desktop, it's not a server. It's not meant for that type of work, and in many cases it's not going to be supported (driver, performance, upgradability, etc.) If you're needing something that can run this work continually for years without hiccup, reliably, then you need a true server, and you need to probably budget at least $3,000 for a decent server to do this kind of work. Looking into a SAN would be ideal, but quite well out of your intended budget as even a basic SAN is going to run you at least $6,000.
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July 30, 2013 6:49:27 AM

alright looks like i have to cut the seats at initial level.. sigh.
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October 8, 2013 8:43:33 PM

Dear Alok
Did u get the solution.
We are a solution provider for NComputing, request to call on 9011914646.

Regards
Rakesh Chauhan
Techminds
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October 9, 2013 9:23:31 AM

Rakesh Chauhan said:
Dear Alok
Did u get the solution.
We are a solution provider for NComputing, request to call on 9011914646.

Regards
Rakesh Chauhan
Techminds


HI , my setup is up and running, you can visit my site @ http://aethtech.com but thanks for asking i will keep you in mind for future needs.
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March 14, 2014 5:12:05 PM

aloksharma2k27 said:
Rakesh Chauhan said:
Dear Alok
Did u get the solution.
We are a solution provider for NComputing, request to call on 9011914646.

Regards
Rakesh Chauhan
Techminds


HI , my setup is up and running, you can visit my site @ http://aethtech.com but thanks for asking i will keep you in mind for future needs.



Hi Ashok..

I need your help brother..
I am going to start a computer education institute in New Delhi..I saw this tread and i hope you can help me.
We are going to start the setup with 8-10 computers. We will run applications like Office suit, Internet, Adobe Photoshop, Coral and some basic programming stuff like c, c++, java and .net. I was about to purchase all 10 desktop machine but one of my friend suggested me to use thin/zero client instead of purchasing 10 complete desktop machines.

He told i can use one powerful machine with intel i5/i7 processor and 8 GB ram with 8-9 thin clients. Please suggest will this setup work and will it be able to handle all the load when we run the applications like this.

kindly also explain me which kind of setup you are using now for your institute.
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