North Shore City has been discovering the benefits of thin-client computing since it began deploying Citrix server-based systems two-and-a-half years ago.
After initially deploying Citrix in remote offices, the council is about to extend it to hundreds more users in its Takapuna corporate office.
CIO Tony Rogers says the aim was simplification and a side benefit has been savings on desktop systems cost. However, that has been offset to some degree by the need for more server grunt.
“We didn’t take a big-bang approach. The biggest management payback was going to come from doing remote offices first and we’re now doing the corporate office,” Rogers says.
It’s intended to convert 80% of the council’s 800 desktops initially.
“There were two drivers: simplifying the application mix that we use to run our business -— one way was to use thin-client to move applications back to running at the server level; and standardisation —- deploying software upgrades has become easier.”IS manager Jeff Shaw (pictured) says about $500,000 is being spent on the corporate office rollout, which covers terminals, software licensing, training and a dozen additional servers. The HP Proliant servers add to 10 existing back-end machines.
Apart from making system administration simpler, the low processing demands of Citrix means the council can extend the replacement cycle of desktop systems from three years to four to five years, Rogers says. And replacing desktops that are at the end of their life with Windows terminals costs a third to half as much as for a full-blown machine.
The corporate office rollout involves replacing 400 desktop PCs with Wyse terminals. Staff with the terminals are ending up with unobtrusive systems: the machines are no more than a “communications device”, Rogers says, in an A5-size form factor; paired with the council’s standard 15in flat-panel monitors, the systems take up little desktop space.
However, not all users can get by with terminals, says Rogers. Those running demanding applications like GIS are keeping fully specified PCs. But the council’s core application, Geac’s Pathway, runs in thin-client mode, as do its Dataworks record management system and Microsoft Office applications.