The Skinny on CCAD's Zero Clients
July 24, 2013
To maintain the cutting edge of digital communications and technology, CCAD's S6 -- Information Technologies team deployed their new zero client system.
This will replace about 2,200 old thin client computers throughout the hangars and CCAD. Mass deployment began on July 1 and should wrap up sometime in August or September.
"The zero client is better than the thin client," said Hector Leyva, CCAD IT System Admin. "You don't have an actual PC at your desk but [the zero client] gives you that experience as though you do."
While thin clients utilize a Windows Embedded Compact (CE) operating system to connect with other computers, zero clients operate using a cloud based architecture that reside in our local data center. This new technology simplifies and reduces administrative support, a move that allows S6 to become more efficient and cost effective.
Each zero client workstation will offer a full Windows 7 desktop complete with Outlook, CCAD's e-mail system, and other applications like Microsoft Word and Electronic Shop Production System (ESPS). The clients will also have full audio to play depot videos and news programs -- a welcomed change for current thin client users.
"Now you can watch the CCAD News and listen to it," said Chad Hammer, the lead project manager for the zero client initiative. "This is becoming one of the popular features of the zero client. Thin clients could not play videos and some of the thin clients didn't have sound at all, so you could see why many users are excited about this."
Issues with thin clients sparked the need for this change.
"We tend to lose connection with the smartcard," Leyva said of the old thin clients. "Users have to log off every now and then which is becoming a problem because it takes time to launch everything back up again." In fact, thin client users had to reboot about ten times a day from Common Access Card (CAC) failure, equaling about 2.5 hours of wasted time just to log in.
But this won't be a problem with the new zero clients. Once a user logs in, they stay in. The login procedure is also faster. IT found no CAC issues with zero client hardware or applications.
The system is an obvious boon for IT. "It allows S6 to standardize and improve the end user computing experience and back-end infrastructure management," said Connie Salas, S6 Director. "The standardization will result in increased mission effectiveness through improved accessibility, user device flexibility, tightly controlled security and enhanced computing capability.
For CCAD's IT technicians , zero clients mean better support and fewer trips to physical workstations since most issues can be resolved via remote troubleshooting. It should only take about 20 minutes to replace each system. Once they're installed, users can log back in, launch their new profile, and start rolling.