Thin client Mac?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
There is a huge movement taking place in both schools and corporates towards using thin client technology. The main benifit is easy maintence of licensing and maintence. Is it possible that we could see a new workstation designed to work with xRaid and xServe exactly for this purpose.



I believe that if Apple do not go down this route they will slip further down the marketshare league table.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Addison :

    There is a huge movement taking place... using thin client technology. The main benifit is easy maintence of licensing and maintence. Is it possible that we could see a new workstation designed to work with xRaid and xServe exactly for this purpose.



    Thin Clients make a lot of sense in the enterprise and educational environments. By definition the thin client is a low powered terminal to applications that run on the server.



    Apple could build a thin client interface box the size of a KVM switch that attaches to their displays (or sits on the desk) and provides keyboard and mouse connectivity. making this device ADC only would assure that an Apple display was used vs. some cheap analog monitor.



    Built in bluetooth could make cordless keyboards and mice possible. An example of the size and possible styling could be taken from this Sun Ray 1 gig ultra-thin client:



  • Reply 2 of 25
    People have been saying this for years, don't really see it happening all that much though. this would basically be going backwards to the 'mainframe' type days, where you had a dumb terminal(thats basically all a 'thing client' is, connecting to a main system that runs and handles everything. while it may be good for some areas, overall, you are better off with a workstation and using thin client type software(like citrix) for apps you want to do that with.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    wmfwmf Posts: 1,164member
    Thin clients = lower margins. I don't think Apple's going to do it.



    If you really want a Mac thin client, take the hard drive out of an eMac.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Where Apple's strengths lie is in creative applications (still), not in the time-share or thin-client realm. Although for space-saving an iMac makes a great client computer.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    knappaknappa Posts: 106member
    At the university where I was studying, we had thin clients only for the Computer Science department. All other departments used Wintel boxes.

    Does anybody know if thin boxes exist for Windows or MacOS ?

    I always supposed that you had to have a hard disk for using Network Boot under MacOS X. Am I wrong with that assumption ?
  • Reply 6 of 25
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,145member
    Apple has the Tech to do Thin Clients with OSX Server Unlimited being so cheap.



    Netboot for small networks.



    Rendezvous. Apple has been dependent on getting $$$$$ from Hardware. They didn't lose the OS war they lost the Software war. They need to be working on a suite of Applications that create a nice workflow for Education/Business. Therefore the Hardware is only a hook to get your software embedded into the network.
  • Reply 7 of 25
    This is an enterprise solution. I'm sure that there are a multitude of IT departments that pine for the "mainframe days", especially if they are Microsoft shops.



    Centralized control and security, total control over what applications are available and license compliance control. Patching all software from the server room. The list is long for the advantages of this scenario.



    The advantage for Apple to go this route is to offer a less expensive solution for enterprise accounts that are considering the BIG FAT client that Microsoft will be demanding with Longhorn. Think about it, to go with (or stay with) a Windows solution corporations will need to upgrade ALL their desktops with NGSCP equipped, Longhorn capable (see the minimum HW requirements) hardware. These won't be $500 Dells.



    Credible, cost effective solutions for the enterprise will be a prerequisite for entry into these accounts. Having a thin client in the mix could only help Apple here.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by The General

    People have been saying this for years, don't really see it happening all that much though. this would basically be going backwards to the 'mainframe' type days, where you had a dumb terminal(thats basically all a 'thing client' is, connecting to a main system that runs and handles everything. while it may be good for some areas, overall, you are better off with a workstation and using thin client type software(like citrix) for apps you want to do that with.



    But the difference now is that it is happening. In the old days we had mainframe computing and the drawback ws that it wasn't scalable as each new terminal slowed the machine. With thin client each terminal containes it's own processing power.



    With the power of OSX it might be possible to make each new terminal act like a cluster, so the more terminals the greater the processing power.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    The old ways die hard... Traditionally the thin client has no processing power other than that needed to communicate with the server. All of the processing is done on the server. What's new today is the concept of "on demand" power for the server room, this is where the money is in thin client business, in adding more CPUs to the server as more thin clients are used.



    IBM's Blade Center is ideal for this, as are the Xserves.



    RACK-UM UP!!!
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Aphelion

    These won't be $500 Dells.



    I disagree - they probably will be $500 Dells, or a similar price.

    I did a quick search online, and found that a Windows Longhorn beta needs 800MHz, 256MB RAM and a 32MB graphics card. Oh, and about 2.5GB of HD space. Big deal - my computer should be able to cope with that easily, and it only cost about $370 to build. OK, so that's without a monitor, but they'll already have them. And I'm not Dell...



    Compare that to buying a Mac machine. You're looking at about $800 minimum. Plus, that's the eMac - you aren't going to be able to reuse the screens etc. with that, like you can with a PC. Now, if they did a thin client that wouldn't mean upgrading all of the office every few years, just a few relatively cheap boxes in the tech room as needed, plus was small so more desktop space is available, plus is pretty cheap... End of game.



    I'd think about going one stage further though - having little boxes lying around that your network, monitor, mouse and keyboard get plugged into is one thing too many. Why not offer a version built into a screen? Sort of like the eMac, except dumb and flatpanel. Put a few USB ports on the front to allow for mice, keyboards, USB data storage devices, whatever into. That seems like a more elegant, a more Apple-like, solution to me.



    My tuppeny.
  • Reply 11 of 25
    cubistcubist Posts: 954member
    I'm unclear on this concept. Are the thin clients mere terminals, only displaying data computed in the blade server? Or are they diskless computation workstations?



    The former has been pushed by Sun for years with little success. In fact, IBM was also pushing this model for a while. Windows was the major obstacle; with the success of Linux, X terminals could make a comeback.



    The latter has a lot of advantages for businesses: greatly reduced cost of ownership, maintenance etc. The client machines have to have good processors and thus will be more expensive. OTOH, the server room doesn't need to have lots of compute power.



    The first model makes CPU upgrades expensive, because server cards (even blades) are more expensive than PCs. The second model puts all the CPU and memory upgrades out at the client end.



    I think both approaches have good points and bad points. If I were Apple, I'd favor the second approach. Why? Because we need more bandwidth between the processor and the screen than we need between the processor and the hard disk. Maybe. YMMV.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    The installations I have seen involve Windows machineswhich boot from the server but use their own processors. They use a single copy of each application which is stored on the server. The administrator only has to update one copy of each software package for everyone to use the new version. I makes the maintainence very much easier, everyone has the same software only one machine to patch etc.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Aphelion

    Thin Clients make a lot of sense in the enterprise and educational environments. By definition the thin client is a low powered terminal to applications that run on the server.



    Apple could build a thin client interface box the size of a KVM switch that attaches to their displays (or sits on the desk) and provides keyboard and mouse connectivity. making this device ADC only would assure that an Apple display was used vs. some cheap analog monitor.



    Built in bluetooth could make cordless keyboards and mice possible. An example of the size and possible styling could be taken from this Sun Ray 1 gig ultra-thin client:







    Bloody SunRays! They're not bad, but where I use them they're running off two Sun E420R servers. When there's more than 10 users on each, they're as slow as hell. They were running Solaris, which I don't mind...



    Personally, I'd hate to see a dumb-terminal archicture machine from Apple. m.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    Doh! Double post. m.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    As I said, thin clients traditionally are simply "smarter" dumb terminals with the additional capability to display graphical elements (ie a GUI) sent from the server. All computational work is done by the server and sent to this thin client to be displayed. These can be built very cheaply because they don't require a CPU that actually processes data, only one that manages the connections. You can think of this as a KVM switch on steroids.



    Now over time, accepted definitions change, and this may be the case here. As "fat clients" become "thinner" by removing disk drives and such, then relying on the server for storage and booting capability, like as Apple's NetBoot, where the system "boots" from the server but processes the information locally, using it's own CPU.



    This is, I think a semantics issue, in the use of terminology to describe a terminal that does not do local processing. But call it what you will, we need to accept some terminology, at least in this forum, (so we all know what we are referring to) that differentiates between :



    1). A device that does no local processing, which simply displays information provided and acted upon at the server.



    2). A device that has no drives or storage, but requests information (or programs) from the server and uses it';s own CPU to process and display that information received from the server.



    3). A device that can boot on it's own, then requests files from the server to be used and acted upon locally, at the user's desk.



    For me, admittedly a greybeard, whose first datacenter used punch cards and later paper tape, my definitions are as follows:



    1). Thin Client

    2). Fat Client (or smart client)

    3). Network enabled PC



    In any case we need to agree on the terminology here, if for no other reason other than knowing whether we are talking about 1). 2). or 3).



    Relating this to Apple products, I think Apple should have an enterprise solution for all three devices.



    1). A very inexpensive connection device that allows an Apple display, keyboard, and mouse to connect to an Xserve in the server room (which, by the way, though multi-tasking can serve several of these things)



    2). A diskless Mac somewhat like Tokyo University's project, where iMacs were put out without disk drives.



    3). Cheaper iMacs and eMacs



    I don't mean to be a grammar policeman here at all, I'd just like to agree on terminology to advance the discussion without confusion.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Addison

    But the difference now is that it is happening. In the old days we had mainframe computing and the drawback ws that it wasn't scalable as each new terminal slowed the machine. With thin client each terminal containes it's own processing power.



    With the power of OSX it might be possible to make each new terminal act like a cluster, so the more terminals the greater the processing power.




    Yes, but the THIN CLIENT doesn't do the processing! thats why its called a thin client. with a thin client, your processing is still being done on the server side. and even if they did make it like a cluster, then what would be the point, each persons pc would be running their own apps once you average it out again.... and the difference isnt 'now is that it is happening' it isnt common. it is rare. most places do it for remote access(working from home) or for certain apps.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Addison:

    But the difference now is that it is happening. In the old days we had mainframe computing and the drawback ws that it wasn't scalable as each new terminal slowed the machine. With thin client each terminal containes it's own processing power.



    With the power of OSX it might be possible to make each new terminal act like a cluster, so the more terminals the greater the processing power.




    Consider the Utopian concept of a enterprise scale corporation with no legacy (ie Wintel hardware) baggage to consider, essentially a clean slate with the need to provide computing services to thousands of desktops, and hundreds of portables:



    5,000 employees with a need to have computer access.



    3,000 of which need only basic access to the system, heavy word processing, database access, email and internet (in some cases).



    1,500 of which need more local power, heavy spreadsheet analysis and modeling, more graphic power for presentations, generally people who analyze data rather than just view it, or type things up.



    100 of which who are creative pros who need workstations with significant power to create things from product brochures to corporate videos.



    400 people who need to take their work (and the work of others) home with them or on the road. The outbound sales force would be the primary percentage here, but others like executives and such who just want cool things would be included.



    If I were and Apple enterprise sales rep, I would want to be able to hit all these bases with the most cost effective solution I could here to be competitive with "Linux everywhere" in this hypothetical scenario.



    More than half of the computer users could get by with thin clients, the next biggest segment could be served by disk-less "iMacs" (security & control). NetBooting from the servers. Only a small percentage really need the power and cost of a Powermac to do their work.



    Of course there will have to be some major horsepower in the server room to make all those thin clients work well, and this is where Addison's quote at the top of this post ties in nicely. Using Xgrid and rendezvous to recover all those wasted CPU cycles in between keystrokes and adding them to the job of supporting all those thin clients.



    RACK-UM UP APPLE!
  • Reply 18 of 25
    rhumgodrhumgod Posts: 1,289member
    Grab a copy of xGrid 1.0 Technology Preview and check out Apple's Enterprise IT page.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    airslufairsluf Posts: 1,861member
    Kickaha and Amorph couldn't moderate themselves out of a paper bag. Abdicate responsibility and succumb to idiocy. Two years of letting a member make personal attacks against others, then stepping aside when someone won't put up with it. Not only that but go ahead and shut down my posting priviledges but not the one making the attacks. Not even the common decency to abide by their warning (afer three days of absorbing personal attacks with no mods in sight), just shut my posting down and then say it might happen later if a certian line is crossed. Bullshit flag is flying, I won't abide by lying and coddling of liars who go off-site, create accounts differing in a single letter from my handle with the express purpose to decieve and then claim here that I did it. Everyone be warned, kim kap sol is a lying, deceitful poster.



    Now I guess they should have banned me rather than just shut off posting priviledges, because kickaha and Amorph definitely aren't going to like being called to task when they thought they had it all ignored *cough* *cough* I mean under control. Just a couple o' tools.



    Don't worry, as soon as my work resetting my posts is done I'll disappear forever.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    rhumgodrhumgod Posts: 1,289member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AirSluf

    [B]My organization is transitioning to server based applications and regularly sees screech to a halt work flows not to mention 20-45 minute logins when everyone shows up for work.



    I think you need a larger server farm behind it, if it takes you THAT long to login. Curious, what platform are you running?
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