Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Zero or Not?

The term zero client is often misapplied to thin client endpoints in vendor marketing ploys. True zero client endpoints have no local processing, software, storage, or even any configurations or settings. They are completely stateless and management-free.

Zero clients mean zero endpoint management - absolutely zero.

Some thin client vendors have even tried to make their end points look "zero" by keeping the client operating system image on the hard disk of a separate "streaming" appliance, requiring that users wait while it is downloaded to the endpoint's hard disk o rflash storage before use. Unfortunately, this only makes the entire VDI architecture from these vendors even more complex and fragile.

To see if vendor claims of "zero-ness" are valid, apply these tests:

1. Does the endpoint include a CPU of any kind? Any RAM? Any storage devices or moving parts at all?

2. Are you forced to configure the endpoint in any way before use?

3. Do you need to reconfigure the endpoints before you are able to swap them between users?

4. Does the endpoint need to download an operating system image or any software before you can
use it?

5. Are you not able to use the native Windows drivers that XP or the manufacturer supply to connect to a new peripheral?

6. Does the endpoint require you to learn and adopt any embedded management interface or tools?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then despite the vendor's claims,
the client isn't a true zero client.

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