Lower Costs, Better Durability
Cost savings was also a factor in the decision to implement a thin-client environment. A thin-client appliance can cost as little as one-third of traditional PCs, Camp said. Those savings are enhanced by JCCs ability to get the thin-client devices through IBM, which resells the Neoware devices to JCC at discounted prices. In addition, because the thin-client devices dont have such components as hard or floppy drives, they tend to last longer than desktop PCs, he said. There are drawbacks, Camp said. Centralization means that if there are problems with the server or software, everyone on the network is affected. "If someone is getting an error, theyre all getting it," he said. "But with thin clients, [the errors] can be dealt with centrally."Through Citrix Systems Inc.s MetaFrame software, library officials can monitor what students are viewing on the appliances and regulate when students can log in to the network. At JCCs new campus, the plan is to continue replacing desktops with thin clients in student areas, although there are some compute-intensive softwaresuch as CAD applicationsthat will remain on PCs, Camp said. In addition, Camp said he is looking at bringing remote access capabilities into the thin-client environment, enabling students to load terminal emulation software onto their home PCs and laptops. Camp and his team are reviewing the schools infrastructure to ensure that there is enough bandwidth to handle the demand generated by students accessing the network remotely. Eventually, students will be able to get the same access and experience from their homes as they get from the Neoware terminals on the campuses, he said.
The college implemented the thin clients first in a classroom setting in the library, where students could use them to get information from the librarys resource sites or the Internet, Camp said. The implementation has since expanded into the main part of the library, replacing the card catalog with a Web-based access point.