A zero client is a type of thin client device that has a very small factor with little to no processing, storage and memory components. It is a compact client-end PC that is used in a centralized computing infrastructure or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). A zero client is also known as an ultra-thin client.
A zero client generally does not have a built-in processor, storage, memory or native operating system (OS). It will usually has peripheral and communication ports (such as USB/VGA ports), as well as sound and networking ports. A zero client works through a central purpose-built server that hosts the OS and applications. Itsends and receives computation requests over a network and is consumes very little power during full operation.
Precise specs for can be tough to pin down when you compare zero client devices versus thin clients given how fast the technology changes, but the differentiating factor is usually considered to be that the OS for an ultra-thin client is on the server, whereas it is on the device in the case of a thin client.
Choosing the right zero client for your VDI solution
Deploying zero clients is more cost effective than outfitting each user with a PC. In addition to reduced costs per device, zero clients allow IT to more efficiently manage remote endpoints. However, it’s not the zero clients themselves that optimize the benefits of VDI: it’s the endpoint management software that actually has the greatest impact on the efficiency, scalability and security of zero client computing. Each of IGEL’s zero or thin clients comes bundled with a Universal Management System that runs on Linux OS and provides robust endpoint management on a single platform. There are two zero client hardware platforms in IGEL’s product line: The IZ2 series is affordable, space-saving and energy-efficient, while the IZ3 models come with quad-core processor and multiple connectivity options for peripherals. Select your preferred virtualization solution and combine it with the hardware best-suited for your requirements – zero clients specifically designed for Citrix HDX.
Citrix XenDesktop VDI Use Zero Clients
Most Zero Clients support Citrix XenDesktop; the best zero clients ensure constant compatibility through a robust support that automatically updates the latest versions of ICA. All IGEL zero clients are Citrix XenDesktop compatible, support Citrix Receiver and are certified for HDX Ready. IGEL zero clients constantly have the latest versions of ICA clients and offer full integration of Citrix features, such as the Secure Access Gateway client and Citrix Secure Access Gateway.
Choose the zero clients that offer an easy upgrade path to other VDI solutions.
You should be able to continue using zero client hardware even if you change your VDI solution. An UD-Upgrade-License from IGEL will enable your IGEL zero clients to connect to other leading VDI solutions. Specialized zero clients from IGEL are optimized to one of the three leading virtualization solutions and boot directly into VDI sessions like Citrix XenDesktop or Horizon. They include free technical support, free firmware update that allow you to future proof your VDI solution by offering you an easy upgrade path to other VDI solutions.
Zero Clients or Thin Clients, whats best for your virtual desktop infrastructure?
Despite the many similarities between thin and zero clients, there are a few key differences. Thin clients typically use a minimalist operating system like Linux or Windows Embedded. In contrast, zero clients use an onboard processor designed to handle a protocol such as Microsoft RDP, VMware PCoIP, or Citrix HDX. Because the decoding and display processes take place on dedicated hardware, zero clients boot up much faster, require minimal configuration, and tend to be more efficient and secure. And because they are fine tuned for a specific protocol, zero clients typically offer the end user a more robust video experience.
But zero clients have one big drawback. They are, for the most part, proprietary, which could put you at risk for vendor lock-in. If a company plans on swapping out protocols or connection brokers, thin clients may prove to be the more flexible option in the end.
As for choosing the best VDI client, it all depends on your specific needs. If you need the ability to drag and drop a wide range of applications, particularly legacy applications to end users, would like to maintain a truer desktop experience, or you want to avoid vendor lock-in, thin clients may be the better way to go. However, if you need high-quality multimedia support, want to give your workers the flexibility to log into any terminal or other endpoint within your organisation, or want to avoid any desktop-side configuration, consider zero clients solutions instead.
Its also worth noting that Thin clients and other slimmed-down devices rely on a network connection to a central server for full computing and don’t do much processing on the hardware itself. Best thin and zero client product choices for your VDI environment really rests within the software embedded on the clients. Your thin client management software should be a powerful software product that combines thin client management capabilities with connection management features. HP provide a Device Manager software which seems flexible enough to cover all requirements, however, it must be noted that they do not provide support for this software, which is disappointing.
Again, to host virtual desktops, you have a lot of choices: thin clients, zero clients and not to mention tablets and mobile devices as we continue to advance in today’s mobile and BYOD era. The first step on deciding between thin and zero clients really rests within the requirements of your network and the connection you prefer with your end users.