Citrix / VDI Pilot – Endpoint Thin Client Selection


This is part 5 of an ongoing series of posts to document and describe my journey implementing Citrix VDI with XenApp.  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5. 

Another pain point for our users has been just how dreadfully slow our ancient machines boot.  Between 1-4 minutes to get a to a logon screen coupled with a 2-40 minute logon, our users have often felt the sting and pain of slow machines.  One of our goals was to help mitigate that as much as possible for our endpoints so that users can get to their apps as fast as possible.  To that end, we began evaluating thin client devices.  Our intent was to provide a single, familiar logon to our users with a vast improvement on logon speed.  This meant that not only did our XenDesktop configuration mean desktops would need to be ‘ready’ in sufficient quantity, but also the time from power on to desktop (and VDI desktop) was very important.

I whipped up a small stopwatch app and proceeded to time various devices, including our physical laptops and desktop, timing the login screen was “ready”.  The actual logon to the desktop was a different metric as this can vary by user.  All metrics were taken from the final, ‘base’ configuration and for our physical laptop and desktops represent a fresh image on the machine (so by that very nature, as fast as the user would ever see, but faster than what they were experiencing for sure).  The results were rather surprising.


In addition to boot time, we knew we had a multi-media requirement for a number of our use cases.  A lot of curriculum has moved to flash-based websites that feature video, so I developed a simple test for each unit:  Visit youtube.com, find “Captain America HD” and watch the trailer uploaded by ‘hollywoodstreams’ at 720p.  If it was acceptable, it went into the multimedia category; everything else was for “the other use cases”.  In the end, a single processor, 2GB RAM/2GB Flash WES 2009 Wyse Z90SW was selected for our multimedia unit.  One of our VAR’s had inventory on some C90LEW’s we picked up because at that point we were already managing WES 2009 and there was no recurring cost.  The Xenith options, while tempting at their price point and easy to configure, ultimately got shot down for their recurring support cost (take heed, Dell Wyse, nComputing and others).

Finally, after devices were selected the Citrix Desktop Lock was installed and customized on the base image for the two models, a few fixes here and there (such as Client Selective Trust settings for device redirection prompt disabling) and we were up and running.  A single logon and devices that boot to a logon screen at quite acceptable speeds.

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