Thin Client rollout reduces university TCO

Improved efficiency in the management and administration of IT services, and time and cost savings, that’s the verdict of Rim Kadi, PC service unit manager at the American University of Lebanon, on their thin client deployment.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  February 28, 2001

Page 1|~||~||~|Improved efficiency in the management and administration of IT services, as well as time and cost savings, that’s the verdict of Rim Kadi, PC service unit manager at the American University of Lebanon, on their deployment of Windows 2000 Server Edition, Terminal Services and Citrix MetaFrame environment.

“The thin client deployment reduces the overheads, and the management cost of deploying and installing the software on each and every desktop at the university,” said Kadi.

“The way we are currently deploying the thin clients is [accessed] through the Web. We have applications that are published on the Web and accessed through Web browsers,” explained Kadi.

The university has over 2000 PCs, but the installation of the thin client has negated the need to install software on all of these desktops and as Kadi commented, “the cost savings are hard to evaluate, but definitely a lot.”

The university has rolled out two thin client environments, one in the Saab Medical Library and the other in the Jafet Library.

By publishing applications to the web, using NFuse, the university has reduced application rollout times and headaches to its staff and 5,500 students. “We used the two thin client implementations to deploy specific applications that students or the faculty might want to use and that would have required a great deal of time to deploy to every desktop,” added Kadi.

The applications the university is currently running in the thin client environment are primarily educational and teaching programs, including databases and statistical SPSS applications, which are used by both students and faculties for specific research.

The university does not have any specific thin client hardware and mostly uses regular PCs, “the hardware is varied because the main access point is in the web browser.”

The university initially began using thin clients more than three years ago, based on Microsoft’s Winframe, before moving to Citrix MetaFrame 1.8.

“The benefits of going to Citrix were many, Citrix had more to offer than Windows [NT 4.0] Terminal Server, as far as the client goes, like access to the local drive, and publishing applications readily to the user’s desktop. All of these features come right out of the box with the Citrix MetaFrame,” said Kadi.

Going hand in hand with the thin client rollout has been the deployment of an Active Directory Service (ADS), which has enabled greater configuration and manageability. “There are two ways to access applications publications on either Terminal Services or Citrix MetaFrame more specifically; either as an anonymous user or as an authenticated user.”

Kadi added, “the Active Directory Services allows you to manage the authenticated user access in a better way,” enabling the university to enhance both user profile and security.
Although the university currently uses Windows 2000 Server Edition, Kadi says the university is planning an implementation of Windows Advanced Server in the coming quarter.

The Advanced Server however, will be used primarily to improve load balancing between the university’s servers. The university is also planning over the coming months to run a pilot project with an intranet ASP, running Microsoft products, such as Office.
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