Tuesday, June 30, 2009

30 Days - Final Thoughts

Tonight ends my 30 days using a thin client laptop, so I guess it's time to share my final thoughts.

I had some challenges during these last 30 days, which I expected. As I worked to resolve them, I tried to employ solutions that I could recommend to a customer. Back doors and workarounds are something I could personally use, but any real solution would need to be something that an IT department could roll out and manage.

My biggest concern during this experiment was that my ability to connect to my virtual desktop was going to a challenge. I have to admit, I did have some challenges. Making some changes to our VPN configuration allowed me some options when faced with a customer network that was being "less than friendly". It didn't work 100% of the time. That's where a wireless broadband card would be helpful. I was unable to get my Blackberry to work with the X90 which was a disappointment. I was tempted to get myself a broadband card, but Apple just released a new iPhone, Palm released the Pre, and I'm still weighing my choices. From what I've read, I could use either access the Internet from my laptop. I really like the iPhone and all the apps that are available for it, but AT&T doesn't offer insurance. I usually drop my phone and need a replacement once a year. I can't afford the cost of a new or refurbished iPhone. I'm not sure which way to go. If I had one, it would have eliminated my connection issues. Having said that, once I modified my VPN, I had good success connecting where ever I was.

I also found that there were some applications that I just needed to have at a moments notice. I do a lot of presentations, but face to face and remotely. I had some issues using GoToMeeting over a VPN connection. I also had a presentation where I didn't have time to boot up and log into a virtual desktop. I needed to just start the presentation. My workaround was to install GoToMeeting and the Powerpoint Viewer directly on the X90. In a corporate setting, these could be pushed out using the Wyse Device Manager.

Flash proved to be a bit of a problem. I tried two different options, but neither worked as well as I hoped. The Wyse Flash Optimizer crashed my browser. This was because I had already upgraded IE to version 8. I have a lot of hope for this piece of software though. All of the other Wyse software worked great, and the Flash Optimizer is still beta. The other was the new Flash management options in View 3.1. These helped out, but only in IE and only when I had a decent connection. Firefox and Opera weren't helped out, and when I had a low bandwidth connection the flash content consumed a ton of bandwidth and slowed my whole VM down. I tried playing with the quality and bandwidth throttling options, but didn't find the right blend that would make the end user experience great. When I was connected to the same LAN as the virtual desktop, this was not an issue at all. Was this enough to make me unproductive? No.

One thing I'd like to see is the ability for the end user to control more of the options RDP offers. Using RDP (mstsc.exe) I can modify screen resolution, disable audio, and a few other options. This are handy when you have a slow connection. Being able to modify these would be helpful. Even if the user was presented with a choice of connection options that are pre-defined would be great.

I guess the real question it, will I keep using this? Yes and no. Typically I have Linux installed on my laptop, and I use VMware Workstation for an XP desktop. I'm definitely going to continue using my virtual desktop located at the corporate data center instead of using VMware Workstation. There is an open source VMware View client for Linux which I am looking forward to testing. I'm going to switch back to my Lenovo for a few reasons:
  • My Blackberry works with it, and I can connect to the Internet.
  • I can listen to music, this is big for me.
  • It's Linux based.
Having said that, I still plan on keeping the X90. It's great not having a heavy laptop to carry around. I would also recommend this to my customers for some use cases. On a LAN the experience was great. Remotely I had some issues, mostly with multimedia. However, many organizations block a lot of Internet sites that are not work related (YouTube, Facebook, etc..). They also shutdown audio services and sites. This eliminates most of the experience issues I was having.

I'm still going to continue to blog about mobile VDI. Once I'm using my Lenovo again, I'm going to test the open source View client and test this with my Blackberry.

2 comments:

  1. As a quick follow up to this, I'm still using the X90 now. It's nice not having a big laptop to lug around.

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  2. See our our company www.thindesk.com in Canada running HP and Wyse thin clients connected to a world-class TELUS Data Centre running on a VMware platform - offering a secure cloud computing solution and a reduced IT spend by 40%. tharaldsen@thindesk.com Tyler Haraldsen

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