One of the top trends for enterprises in 2015 is desktop virtualization, the ability to serve desktops to client devices without the need for expensive hardware. Though many enterprise decision makers are aware of desktop virtualization benefits, finding clear information about desktop virtualization hardware requirements is difficult.
Because the technology has grown so much so quickly, and because computing needs vary so much from one organization to the next, knowing a specific implementation’s exact requirements is difficult without a consultation.
That’s not to say it’s impossible to get an overview of desktop virtualization hardware requirements; in fact, having a broad understanding of enterprise desktop virtualization hardware options helps acquisition managers better understand where to begin the desktop virtualization conversation with a solution provider.
Desktop Virtualization Client Hardware
There are three types of clients typically used with desktop virtualization: thick clients, thin clients, and zero clients. Though each meet the minimum desktop virtualization hardware requirements, they function in fundamentally different ways.
For desktop virtualization purposes, conventional PCs are known as thick clients. These are essentially the computing devices one might find at a local electronics store. However, these devices must have the correct protocols installed to accept virtual desktop environments.
With advances in cloud computing and desktop virtualization technology, even devices such as tablets and smartphones are able to act as thick clients.
Note that some sort of endpoint threat detection should be in place if an organization has a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. This prevents machines that were infected at home from compromising the entire system once they reconnect.
Unlike traditional PCs, thin clients are specifically built for the purpose of connecting to a desktop server. They have very little local software and minimal hardware – just enough to connect and begin serving the desktop.
For example, rather than having the full Windows operating system installed, a thin client will use only Windows Embedded CE or a different minimal OS. This reduces the computing power needed by the desktop hardware for the OS, allowing nearly all computing resources to be used on serving the virtual desktop (and thus reducing the RAM, storage space, and other hardware requirements).
Commonly, thin clients can function with only 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and only 512 MB to 1GB of flash memory to store the operating system. The computing is done on the desktop server, and the thin client simply acts as a display. Thus, a strong network connection (such as Gigabit Ethernet) is highly recommended, as slower network connections can produce a choppy or “laggy” display (especially when streaming media or performing graphic-intensive work).
Zero clients have even less hardware than thin clients. They also lack a built-in operating system. Some devices have no CPU, memory, local storage, or software. Instead, they act more as appliances that simply display the desktop being virtualized on the server. These are the least expensive solutions, but they are also completely unable to function without the server.
Which Hardware Should I Choose?
The actual desktop virtualization hardware requirements for an organization depend on their computing needs, how desktops will be accessed, how often new terminals are added or removed, and other factors. Contact Patriot today to begin discussing the needs of your organization so you can start experiencing the benefits of desktop virtualization for your enterprise.