From Zero (Clients) to Hero (Endpoints)

Simon Townsend
Written by: Simon TownsendPublished: September 10, 2019

Deploying a Windows desktop has always come with its challenges. In 1999, I was introduced to a technology called Citrix which, at the time, truly advanced end user computing (EUC) and offered an alternative to deploying fat client PC’s. This “thin” deployment of desktops and applications helped enable remote working, eased scaling due to company acquisition, improved security and for many, helped lower the cost of deploying and managing Windows.

As the Citrix “thin client computing” market grew and evolved, deploying thin clients at the endpoint quickly demonstrated how the endpoint could be delivered at even lower cost, improving ROI. To drive down the cost even further, many vendors then introduced zero clients. An even cheaper alternative, zero clients were optimized for just one protocol, were able to “just do enough” to connect into Citrix and were able to access remote desktops and applications.

Different Era. Different Needs.

Zero clients worked well in an era when virtualized desktops were stationary and everything was on premises. Today, however, the world of VDI and DaaS has a very different set of demands and expectations. Endpoint requirements now must support the choice of provider, cloud and protocol.  At the same time, enterprises fear vendor or protocol lock-in, which can be costly in the long run.

User expectations have also changed; a satisfying user experience must take into account multiple devices, protocols and locations. Zero clients cannot support local application and/or device integration like smart card authentication and unified communications for users working remotely or wishing to communicate across large enterprises, using Skype for Business or high-end graphics.

Furthermore, web- and SaaS-based applications have become more common place, and the ability to provide a local browser on the endpoint is increasing, providing users with even more compute power at their device of choice.

Accelerated Rate of Change

The world of agile development and cloud computing is an environment in which new features and functionality are constantly being added. The requirements of the endpoint are also changing far more quickly. Whereas historically an on-premises implementation of Citrix XenApp on Windows Server 2012 might serve an organization for more than six years without the need to upgrade, now there can be several updates within just two years. This speed of change and increased requirements mean a zero client is commonly of no use. Nor does it provide any future-proof benefits.

Getting from Zero to Hero

Ripping and replacing endpoints, whether fat, thin or zero is never cheap, in time spent or new capital investments. IGEL’s next generation OS for cloud workspace frees enterprises from this rip-and-replace cycle. We provide a software-defined endpoint that can be easily updated to support multi-protocol, multi-cloud, and multi-vendor environments, and includes support for over 80+ integrated technologies and applications, including Web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.

Enterprises are choosing IGEL to conquer the challenges of hybrid cloud migration, of meeting modern user expectations and of staying on top of VDI technology updates, to name a few. Here is how…

  • Future proofing the environment. The IGEL OS is hardware agnostic and works on any x86 device. Adding the Linux-based IGEL OS to aging thin and fat client hardware can give it new life, extending the use and ROI of legacy investments such as existing thin clients.
  • Avoiding vendor lock-in. Enterprises locking themselves in to a specific cloud vendor would be like locking themselves into a cell carrier for five years. What they are seeking is an endpoint solution that supports hybrid cloud environments. IGEL supports any cloud, any device, anywhere, and via its next-gen edge OS for cloud workspaces, can help customers ease the way to modern offerings like the latest version of Citrix workspace, VMware Horizon and Cloud, AWS Workspaces, Parallels, and soon, Windows Virtual Desktop.
  • Supporting Windows in the datacenter. To weather the frequent patching updates, IGEL believes Windows needs to move from the endpoint to the datacenter. As a result, more enterprises are choosing to deploy VDI to make this transition. Since IGEL is purpose-built for enterprise access to virtual environments of all types, enterprises can free themselves from managing Windows at the endpoint with less interruption to the end user, more consistency in patching and improved security.

A Lighter, More Nimble Environment

Zero clients are becoming the poster child for the penny wise-pound foolish axiom. They may save some dollars in the short term, but in the long term, enterprises will bear the costs of falling behind in critical VDI updates, in being locked out of new offerings like Windows Virtual Desktop. Further they may be unable to exercise new options in cloud and VDI services. Our advice? Choose the hardware that meets your budget and requirements and then install the IGEL next gen edge OS for cloud workspaces on top. Simple, Smart and Secure.