Virtualization Technology News and Information
Thin Client Model and BYOD

A Contributed Article by Brad Ellison and Brandon Meyer, SWC Technology Partners

Thin client and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models demonstrate how we as IT leaders adopt to new technology. New technologies must meet the changing market and users' needs in a rapid and secure way. As a result of the consumerization of IT, users now want their software, hardware and applications to be accessible from multiple locations, and to be compatible across other systems and personal devices. Because of these and other considerations, organizations need to consider if thin client and BYOD models will meet their organization's needs.

The Advantages of Thin Client

There are numerous advantages to the thin client model which include lower operational costs, better security and higher reliability. The lack of software being installed on devices will not only lower operational costs, but it will also reduce the amount of time it takes to update, troubleshoot and manage your thin client environment. Thin Clients also provide a smaller surface area for security threats. Should a user become infected with a virus, we can simply have them log off and log back in. They will be logged into a new and healthy virtual desktop.  Further, if a device is stolen there would be no loss of data, since there is no data on the device. Finally, due to the smaller hardware footprint and sometimes no moving parts, the lifespan of a thin client is five to seven years compared to a normal three year life span.

The Disadvantages of Thin Client

Although there are numerous advantages, there are also disadvantages to the thin client model. Some of these disadvantages include client limitations, network requirements and having a single point of failure. Although improvements are being made, thin clients lack performance for Flash, HD video and video conferencing. Thin clients are also dependent on a network connection. High latencies and disconnections can cause disruptions to the user.  Finally, thin clients are often running multiple users on a single host server and the failure of the server can cause multiple users' sessions to fail. Shared sessions can also impact users by sharing resources and a single user can cause a slowdown for the rest of the users on the same host.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Microsoft System Center

Due to the explosion of the thin client and virtualization models, many companies are now adopting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) infrastructure. A concern however with BYOD is finding a secure and effective way to deploy applications and software to various devices while meeting the organization's security framework. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (SCCM) is a proven and successful way to help you deploy the applications and software to user owned devices, even in a VDI type environment With the power of Application Virtualization (AppV), we can stream the applications to the users on any device, anywhere, at any time.

SCCM also allows organizations to control when a user-owned device can download content and software as well as report on inventory based on metering policies. This allows your organization to avoid potentially large mobile data charges and allows your organization to be 100% certain that all of the devices that connect to your network have the appropriate security configuration and other requirements. SCCM can determine whether or not a device is compliant before it connects to your network. These safeguards are a huge benefit towards adopting the BYOD concept.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (SCVMM) on the other hand can help your organization adopt and manage the virtual infrastructure that will support your thin clients.  SCVMM provides the capability to offer Software as a Service (SaaS) by deploying services to in a Private Cloud. By deploying services, it is much quicker and far more efficient to deploy applications and software that businesses require.  Administrators then have the time to focus on more strategic projects and initiatives. SCVMM streamlines the deployment workflow by eliminating the need to have to build the server, configure the networking, configure the storage, install the OS, install any pre-requisite software and updates, and then finally installing the line of business applications. With SCVMM, administrators deploy the application as a service and all of the above steps are completed automatically and in a timely manner. This provides a lot of power to both your thin client and mobile device infrastructure.

Best Practices

If your company is currently using or moving to a thin client model with a BYOD concept, there are best practices you may want to consider. Best practices include, standardizing on a manufacturer, virtualizing as much as possible, training your staff, building in redundancies and having a comprehensive backup plan. A great way to simplify your management is by standardizing on a manufacturer. This can limit the amount of tools needed to manage your thin clients. Also, virtualizing your servers, services and profiles is to your benefit and lowers the risks that come with the client/server model. Further, don't forget to train your users on how to use the system properly. Make sure to build in redundancies to minimize potential downtime to your users. Due to shared server resources, a single server outage can cause outage for many users and building redundancies can make sure your users keep working. Finally, it is crucial to back up the organization's data. Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2012 (DPM) is included in the System Center suite to allow your organization to back up your servers.

If your company is thinking about a thin client BYOD environment, there are several advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered. Thin client and BYOD is not a good fit for all organizations. It must meet the organization's environment, support mission critical application requirements and comply with your security framework.


About the Author 

Brad Ellison is an engineer at SWC Technology Partners, an award-winning provider of IT solutions to midsize businesses in Oak Brook, Illinois. He currently hosts monthly events for SWC on Microsoft System Center.

Brandon Meyer is an engagement manager and virtualization subject-matter-expert at SWC. He currently hosts monthly events for SWC on Virtualization.

For more information, please visit

Published Monday, January 28, 2013 6:34 AM by David Marshall
SWC Virtualization Experts Featured In Virtualization PublicationSWC - (Author's Link) - October 22, 2015 1:05 PM
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