The basics of modern client computing
Issues IT administrators need to consider when implementing a client computing solution
Client computing, circa 2012, entails centralizing and managing from a single location all the primary agency technologies and components utilized by end users. The list of technologies used can include desktop computers, mobile devices, servers and applications.
Federal agencies are attempting “to find a balance of managing costs and gaining greater control of all aspects of IT, all while allowing their users to access [their] networks from any location, using a variety of devices,” said Paul Schaapman, a data center solutions architect at CDW-G. Once agencies are able to determine a strategy that works, users will gain increased access to networks and other resources for continuity of operations, telework, and greater overall mobility and productivity, he explained.
Implementing a client computing strategy allows an agency better control, enabling IT administrators to provide secure access to government networks and resources. A successful client computing solution, according to CDW-G experts, typically includes one or more of the following:
• Client virtualization — Decouples hardware and software components to increase security, availability and disaster recovery capabilities.
• Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) — Abstracts existing hardware; virtualizes the operating system, applications and data; and runs all applications/services from servers housed in the data center.
• Infrastructure support — When considering client virtualization, especially VDI, agencies must view it as a shift of resources from “personal” computers to data centers. It’s important to assess the potential cost and impact of housing a new infrastructure in the data center.
• Software management — Streamlines software license management to ensure proper tracking and procurement of new licenses. Inventory all software applications running on agency networks and ensure that software entitlements match software installations.
Primary client computing components
Effective centralized client computing uses multiple technologies and components, including:
Devices — Consider the user experience and all the devices they will use, including notebook PCs, desktop computers, thin clients, tablet PCs and mobile devices/smart phones. For stringent security, look for smart card readers, biometric scanners and two-factor authentication tokens to provide added protection.
Operating systems — In a hosted model, Microsoft Windows can run on blade PCs or workstations in the data center, or in virtual machines on a hypervisor. Alternatively, Windows images can be hosted on a server and the operating system streamed to existing client systems.
Licensing — The licensing impact of virtualized operating systems and applications can be complex. A knowledgeable software licensing specialist can help agencies ensure compliance with the right client virtualization software.
Support — Some suppliers don’t support their applications on a virtual machine, so this should be taken into consideration when evaluating virtualization strategies.
Remote access — Each operating system and device, as well as access methodology (DSL, cable modem, dial-up), should be included during the planning and design phase.