M300 Delivers Straightforward Setup Procedure

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-04-19 Print this article Print

Some notable features of the M300 thin client include low power usage (as low as 6 watts), no moving parts (no fans, drives, etc.) and a footprint small enough to allow mounting behind a monitor (Video Electronics Standards Association- (VESA-) mounting-capable). The included software can support as many as 45 thin clients per host, allowing 45 users to share a single host system over Ethernet connections to the thin-client devices.

Setup proves to be very straightforward, thanks to the limited interaction needed by the administrator and the elimination of third-party hypervisors, connection brokers and so forth. The first step is to select the appropriate host PC hardware and software. Host PC performance proves critical for setting up M300 thin clients; more power and memory offered by the host PC translates to better overall performance for the thin clients.

For my tests, I selected an HP Z600 workstation with Dual Xeon X5550 processors and 12GB of RAM. The Z600 was running the Windows 7 enterprise edition. My host PC far exceeded the minimum requirements set forth by NComputing and ultimately should be capable of handling at least 60 thin clients under high workloads. NComputing recommends at least an Intel Core2 Quad Q8300 with 8GB of RAM as a starting point. That level of hardware should support 20 thin clients under a low workload, or a dozen thin clients under a high workload. The thin clients use 10/100 Ethernet connections, which may account for the sometimes-sluggish performance seen in my tests.

Once the hardware and OS (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008R2 or Windows Multipoint Server 2011) was selected, I installed the vSpace software, which is what turns the host PC into a vSpace server. The installation is wizard-driven and simple. Settings, such as screen resolution, streaming video support, USB support, remote control and so forth were readily found under the appropriate option tabs, making configuration easy.

The rest of the setup process, such as plugging in thin clients, attaching monitors, keyboards, peripherals and so on proved to be as easy as setting up a new PC. The thin clients booted up quickly, taking no longer than a typical high-performance desktop PC and many times faster than a typical VDI client that needs to be provisioned upon first-time use. Overall, an M300 thin-client experience is much the same as using a typical desktop PC.

However, as I added more thin clients to the network, performance was affected. On busy networks with multiple thin clients, there are some noticeable lags when launching applications or streaming videos, either due to network contention or additional strain placed on the host PC, or even a combination of both, depending upon the mixture of tasks being processed.

In other words, heavy traffic will slow down the responsiveness of a thin client, while heavy loads placed on the thin client itself will consume more CPU cycles on the host machine. Nevertheless, for typical workloads, such as word processing, email, Web surfing and so forth, the M300 setup proves to be very effective, giving users an experience akin to a typical desktop PC.

With its low entry price, ease of installation and ability to emulate a desktop PC, the M300 may be the ideal way for small businesses, training centers, call centers and the like to inexpensively deploy multiple PCs.

What€™s more, the savings in power usage and OS licenses prove to make the M300 very cost-effective, especially for those looking to pinch pennies. Ultimately, the M300 may not scale to replace large, complex VDI solutions, but it sure is a good alternative for smaller workgroups looking for the benefits of VDI, without all the setup, maintenance and management hassles.

eWEEK also put together a slide show on M300


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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