Dell, HP Upgrade Thin Client for Better Security, Communications

The companies unveil new and enhanced thin client offerings aimed at improved performance in cloud and virtual environments.

Dell and Hewlett-Packard introduced new thin client offerings designed to give increasingly cloud-bound enterprises more powerful client tools.

The tech giants unveiled the products this week at the Citrix Synergy 2013 show in Anaheim, Calif., where virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) was a central theme. The Dell and HP thin client offerings focused on better performance and improved security capabilities in environments where employees work remotely or from the road.

HP and Dell officials also made improved communications a key part of what they were rolling out.

“As office workers become more mobile and more smartphones, laptops and tablets enter the workplace, the challenge to secure data grows more daunting,” Jeff Groudan, marketing director of thin clients at HP, said in a statement. “With innovations such as HP Velocity and our support for unified communications, companies can enable their mobile workforce while knowing they have the security, reliability and manageability of thin clients without sacrificing productivity, user experience or performance.”

Thin clients have been around for a long time and offer the capabilities of traditional PCs. However, they offer greater security, easier manageability and reduced costs because no data or applications are stored on the endpoints. Instead, they’re typically centrally stored in a data center. As businesses increasingly adopt cloud computing models, thin clients become attractive, particularly for more heavy-duty applications that don’t typically run on tablets or smartphones.

Dell, which acquired thin client products when it bought Wyse last year, on May 23 introduced the D90Q7 and Z90Q7 quad-core thin clients that run Microsoft’s Windows Embedded operating system and can be used in a range of virtualized environments, including Citrix, Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware. Both systems come with quad-core systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) from Advanced Micro Devices and offer flexible networking, I/O and storage options. In addition, more than 100,000 of the devices can be managed through Dell’s Wyse Device Manager software, according to Dell officials.

The Z90Q7 consumes as little as 15 watts of power, and is aimed at workstation-type workloads that tend to run on desktops or in virtualized environments. The D90Q7 consumes as little as 9 watts, and is aimed at virtualized and cloud computing workloads.

In addition, Dell unveiled the Xenith Pro 2, a dual-core zero-client endpoint for Citrix-based desktop virtualization environments combined with secure firmware. The device is aimed at such applications as unified communications (UC) and high-definition multimedia creation and consumption, according to the company.

Those devices were introduced just days after Dell announced the Wyse ThinOS 8 and Wyse D10D thin client, a dual-core device that Dell officials said was combined with the ThinOS firmware to provide high levels of security. ThinOS 8 supports such common security measures as smartcards, proximity cards, single sign-on, 802.1x and EAP security.

Wyse ThinOS 8 also can be used with such existing Wyse thin clients as the V10LE, C10LE, T10 and R10L. Both the firmware and D10D thin client will be available starting next month.

“Dell is committed to empowering enterprises of any size with the most secure, manageable and turnkey virtual desktop solutions possible,” Steve Lalla, executive director of marketing and chief strategy officer at Dell Cloud Client Computing, said in a statement. “With the combination of the Dell Wyse D10D and ThinOS 8, we are delivering our customers great value for their IT investments. These solutions allow customers to address security challenges with a cost-effective, high-performing VDI solution so they can focus on growing their businesses.”

For their part, HP officials at Citrix Synergy showed off improvements to the company’s Velocity network performance management software for thin clients, which was first introduced in 2012. Network issues over latency and unreliable WiFi can impact user experience when trying to use such applications as voice over IP (VoIP) with their thin clients. The combination of Citrix’s virtualization and networking products with the Velocity enhancements offers better performance of video streaming, VoIP and similar applications, company officials said.

Velocity helps the devices adapt to network conditions and improves network utilization, they said.

In addition, HP officials said their mt40 mobile thin client and t410 platforms can more fully support Citrix cloud and virtualization technologies, and that their thin clients can now work with UC solutions from Avaya, Cisco Systems, Citrix and Microsoft.