Thin clients proved to be just what the doctor ordered when it came to moving staff around during the worst of Auckland’s power crisis.
Organisation X, the unusually named subsidiary of systems integrator RHE, recently did a thin-client implementation for an organisation with 250 to 300 users. RHE business development manager Peter Idione says the concern about thin clients is usually that a single point of failure within a network potentially produces availability considerations.
“But ironically, we found during the power crisis that the network has been the single biggest benefit because we’ve been able to move users around without having to relocate equipment and servers.”
One of the Organisation X directors, Peter Garrick, says Organisation X’s customer had a centralised system which was able to maintain power during the power crisis. Two additional sites were affected, however, one badly and the other partially.
Users at those sites took their machines to another site. Or, if they were sharing a new site which already had machines, they loaded the thin client from a diskette. This could be done within half an hour at most.
“Once they had a network connection everything was identical to what they had [at the office].”
Idoine says all the information about the users’ profiles - access to data, icons, desktop, security, services allowed to use - is centrally held. This means users can log on from another city see what they would normally see if they were sitting at their desk.
Garrick says the NC-based system was very versatile during the power crisis, but that versatility is useful at any time.
The customer bought the system but because of cost of ownership issues, but Garrick and Idoine say portability is a benefit they will be pointing out to clients in future.
“The ability to move people to any location and not have to worry about moving data, managing the security, moving applications, and setting them up from a profiles’ perspective is significant,” says Idoine:
He says the client feels the NCs’ portability has been a real business benefit - and has saved the company real dollars.
Garrick says if the wide area network had been affected, only the full clients would have been working.
But Idoine says if the client had kept his previous infrastructure (a mixture of distributed NT and Novell servers throughout the country) the company would have had to move a great deal more equipment and disruption to the business would have been significantly greater.
Garrick says the company would have had to bring applications and data from the affected site to the temporary site.
The organisation has 50 full clients and the remainder are thin clients including old 386 and 486 PCs, which run at Pentium speeds.
Garrick says the deployment of the thin clients could be done in the “back-room” and tested before going to the site.